Saturday, May 10, 2014

Rome to Tuscany : rediscovering the Via Clodia


Sandro Vanucci leads the group past the Colosseum-

-and the Roman Forum 


Today hundreds of  horsemen, bikers and trekkers  left Rome  for a 230 km. voyage  of rediscovery: they  are traveling  along  the  ancient Roman road, Via Clodia, north from Rome, through the Lazio countryside. 
Via Clodia route  from Rome to Grosseto 


traffic under my windows on May 8th 

  
Cavalieri  del 8 Maggio celebrate Vetralla's  Wedding of the Trees   

lunch stop  at Lake Martignano 


Arrival in the Tuscan provincial town of  Grosseto  is expected on Sunday, May 18th, as the climax of   “Passione Maremma-Food and Wine Shire”  festival   where over 100 producers will celebrate the area’s fine food products, wine and handicrafts.  
Maremma cowboys, butteri,  herd wild horses 

For 2,000 years the Via Clodia  was a major road connecting  the towns of Etruria. Then,with the defeat of the Etruscans by the Romans it was abandoned in favor of the Via  Cassia and Via Aurelia.

1581 map of ancient Etruria 
Since  the Middle Ages  Lazio and Tuscan coastal areas were considered  uninhabitable , a land of punishment and exile. 





 Until  about  60 years ago the area between Montalto  di Castro and  Grosseto  were  under the shadow of  malaria  and the area was known  as  “Maremma Amara”.
wild boar thrive in Maremma

Things have certainly changed in the past half century, for now  the coast  and hinterland are sought after holiday destinations, blessed with  pristine beaches, nature reserves, hill towns and genuine food and wine. 

 bruschette  to  begin a feast in Maremma




Maremma wines 
Along their route the horsemen  will visit archeological  sites such as Norchia in  the town of Vetralla, Tuscania, Vulci  and  Pitigliano  and live as travelers did in the past centuries. 
Etruscan necropolis of Norchia, in Vetralla 

For a full schedule see the event's website   Passione Maremma.
For  expert  information  on  Maremma  in English,  I can highly  recommend  my colleagues  Elisa and Donna  who live there:
-guest blog  by Elisa Scarton Detti 
-  Donna Stiles  website
See also  this story about  the Wedding of the Trees. 


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Secrets of San Pellegrino, Viterbo's Medieval Quarter

dressed for the flower festival in San Pellegrino  
Pauline Stiles was a rare American visitor to Viterbo  a century ago  who penned an  uncomplimentary description of the  San Pellegrino medieval quarter of Viterbo  in her book “New Footsteps in Old Places” (1917). 

lilies leading to the Duomo 
She described the quarter  as a dark, mysterious and smelly place  with ."....an odor that disgusts one’s olfactory sense so completely that the others hardly survive!”*

crowds at the Duomo and Papal Palace 
 
Times have changed over the century and  the droves of visitors to the San Pellegrino flower festival  (May 1-4) were thrilled with the colors and perfumes  that wafted through the narrow medieval streets and piazzas decked with flowers.


a beautiful piazza and B&B 
Surely there were many American  and other foreign visitors in Viterbo  from May 1st to 4th  who enjoyed  the highlights and novelties of  this year's San Pellegrino's  festival. 

Were you one of them? What piazza or corner did you like best?  
medieval shards at the tiny St. Rosa Venerini museum

I noticed a definite  improvement on the past editions of the festival, with dozens of new  stands and activities that the thousands of visitors  much appreciated.


new bookshop  near Duomo 

orchids decorate Piazza della Morte 

Piazza San Carluccio  should be like this all year round

There were concerts, encounters with artisans, treasure hunts for children, minting of coins, wine and food tastings  held in the church of San Salvatore organized by the  Chamnber of Commerce  and Archeoares.

with Irene, head of Viterbo's Pro Loco, Davide and Franco 

a gurgling fountain 

sleepy cat ignores tourists


medieval  arches and colorful  flowers 

with sculptor Morucci 
sculptor Ivano learns the drums 
 Click on the highlighted link to discover other interesting festivals that are coming up in the month of May including the Wedding of the Trees on May 8th in Vetralla  and  La Barabbata  in Marta  on May  14 .  
corks with cacti

Viterbo has come a long way since the days when  early American writers,  including Nathaniel Hawthorne, ignored the filthy alleys  of San Pellegrino and wrote negative reviews for the city. **

dining amid the flowers 

colorful palette 
Please share with friends, leave a comment and mark your calendar for next year. 
*p 54  Etruria Travel,History and Itineraries in Central Italy 
** p 46  ETRURIA TRAVEL,HISTORY AND ITINERARIES IN CENTRAL ITALY