We traveled to Soriano Nel Cimino, our preferred base in Italy, after spending the night in Sorrento and a day in Pompeii.
The town provided us the opportunity to experience Italian living as well as to visit the province of Viterbo in Central Italy, and it continues to do so because we have a timeshare there. The fact that our lodging is in a historic castle helps. Additionally, it enables us to see Rome and Florence again in a single journey.
One of my favorite Italian locations is Soriano. Here are the explanations.
1. It’s A Tiny, Charming Italian Town
Imagine a village that is surrounded by one of the Monti Cimini range’s tallest peaks. Breathtaking! You may stroll around the 15th-century Fontana Vecchia (“Old Fountain”) and the Porta Romana, a model of the Porta Pia in Rome, before dining at one of the superb restaurants nearby (we discovered one where we had to return a second night). Surprisingly, the city’s 8,000 citizens have three beautiful places of worship to choose from: the 11th-century Romanesque Chiesa di San Giorgio, the 15th-century Chiesa di Sant’Eutizio, and the 18th-century Cathedral of San Nicola di Bari.
One afternoon, we set out to find the ideal vantage point for a memorable photograph. We realized we had forgotten to bring our tripod when we finally located it. Fortunately, a kind old man passed by. He had no English but recognized our predicament and was happy to take our photo. Following that, we discovered winding cobblestone streets on hills, magnificent Italian homes and gardens, and one of the teeny-tiny curbside petrol stations Italy is famous for. The flowers in the town served as a gentle reminder that spring was still here, and the local bakeries, grocers, and fruit and vegetable stands offered us a fair taste of Italian life. We also found a tiny restaurant (just four seats) hidden behind one of the shops, and we adored the homemade meatballs and spaghetti they served. Naturally, it was simple to locate a nearby gelato afterward.
The Sagra delle Castagne, or the Chestnut Festival, which is celebrated in Soriano, is a fantastic time to visit. It lasts from the conclusion of September until the start of October.
2. It Has a Protracted and Interesting History
The Orsini Castle is located at the highest point in the town. The castle, built in the 13th century by Orso Orsini, served as Pope Nicholas III’s summer home. Up until the 1990s, it was a building with a high level of security; today, the University of Viterbo manages it as a tourist destination.
We walked up a narrow circular stone staircase meant for one after taking in the dismal jail cells, the great room, and the courtyard of Orsini Castle’s former glory. We could see the town’s history spreading out from the top of the castle.
History of Soriano nel Cimino may be traced back to the pre-Roman civilisation of the Etruscans, who were “easily defeated” by the Romans invading in 443 BC, according to the Roman historian Livy. The region is replete of Etruscan inscriptions, tombs, and medieval ruins connected by trails, especially close to the nearby town of Bomarzo. The hike takes around four hours.
3. It’s Possible To Sleep In A Castle
We stayed in Palazzo Catalani, a castle that is a member of our global timeshare network of 300 resorts. It is a tiny castle from the 14th century with amazing architectural features and charming interior decoration that combines Renaissance style with Roman components. From parallel streets, we could choose between two meandering cobblestone roads that led to the top of the little hill where the castle is situated.
Our room was a stunning studio with authentic murals, substantial antique furniture, and additional period furnishings. It was ideally situated next to the welcoming reception area and the well-equipped bar. We also had a tiny kitchen where we made food for cocktails on some nights and breakfast in the mornings. (We ate dinner at an a la carte restaurant on the first evening that had delectable Italian specialties and other European cuisines.) We relaxed in the heated pool and sauna before going to bed. But what we valued most was the top-notch customer service provided by the knowledgeable employees.
4. It Makes a Great Base for Viterbo Exploration
A fantastic starting point for exploring the province of Viterbo, which is near to Rome, is Soriano. In Viterbo, you can observe the profound impact that the Roman Catholic Church has had and will continue to have on Italian culture. Here are three charming old-world towns that are worth visiting, together with Viterbo, the province capital and a former papal seat.
Civita di Bagnoregio is 45 minutes from Soriano and 75 miles north of Rome. You will be astounded by its arresting location, which is atop a small volcanic tuff plateau with views of the Tiber River valley. At the end of the 17th century, a significant earthquake caused its edges to start falling (and still falling). Two centuries later, the rate of erosion accelerated, creating the spectacle of an island hill and causing the houses on its sides to collapse.
Despite having a population of only 12 in the winter and approximately 100 in the summer, it is nonetheless incredibly fascinating to explore due of how isolated it is and how its non-edge architecture has remained untouched. It was added to the World Monuments Fund’s Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World in 2006.
Prior to the bishop and the municipal authority moving to the hamlet in the valley after the earthquake, Civita and Bagnoregio were a part of the same town.
Around Lake Bolsena, a caldera (or sizable volcanic crater) that emerged from the Vulsini Volcanic Complex, is where Montefiascone is located. The village, which is 59 miles from Rome and 30 miles from Soriano, offers a lot of campgrounds and bed & breakfasts. The Montefiascone Cathedral, also known as the Basilica of Santa Margherita, is its finest achievement. Its dome is the fourth largest in Italy, behind those of the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Florence’s Duomo. It appeared as though the dome covered the entire church.
The final town we went to was Caprarola, which is located in the Cimini range of volcanic hills and is only 25 minutes from Soriano and 31 miles northwest of Rome. I was interested in seeing the enormous, pentagonal-shaped Villa Farnese (not to be confused with the Palazzo Farnese in Rome). When Cardinal Alessandro Farnese was chosen to be Pope as Paul III in 1534, construction of the Renaissance villa that was intended to serve as a fortress to protect him was put on hold. On the finished pentagonal base, his grandson commissioned the construction of an estate.
The layout of the village was changed such that the main road leads straight to Villa Farnese, which dominates the entire area. I was pleasantly astonished to discover that the Philippines (referred to as Philipina) appeared on the Asian map in the Room of the World Map, one of many rooms that are covered in enormous paintings. The maps, which were made in the 1570s, show how the Earth was perceived by cartographers at the time.
Viterbo, the capital, is located 20 minutes from Soriano and 50 miles north of Rome. Ancient gates serve as entrances to the still-standing medieval walls that enclose the city’s historic core. They were constructed in the eleventh and twelfth century. Viterbo joined the Papal States and was made a papal seat in the fourteenth century. In actuality, Viterbo saw the election of four popes. However, the longest conclave in history was taking place when a foreigner was elected, prompting the townspeople to assault the Papal Palace. The police detained two Cardinals. Following this event, popes started to stay away from Viterbo, and the city lost some of its significance.
5. Accessibility To Florence And Rome Is Simple
the greatest is saved for last. It was straightforward to visit Rome and Florence because Soriano is only 8 miles from the A1 Motorway and is situated directly between them. Florence is two hours away by car, and Rome is only an hour away by train. There are still numerous piazzas and sights to explore, even if it’s always fun to see the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Vatican, and the Spanish Steps. And although though we have already seen Florence’s Accademia, Duomo, Santa Croce, and Leather School, there are still plenty of other places to see, like the Palazzo and Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi, wineries, and more.
When we start flying again, we intend to return to Italy. There are constantly new things to explore in Viterbo, and we miss our accommodation in the Palazzo Catalani. Furthermore, this is unquestionably the ideal starting point for trips that include visits to Florence and Rome.
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