A few years ago I started living part of the time in Ferentino, a small hill-town colonized by the Romans. I was inspired in part by the Roman poet, Horace, who praised Ferentino as a place, not far from Rome, where it was possible to escape the noise of the city traffic and the late night shouts of revelers leaving the taverns. This sounded idyllic to a resident in Rome"s Piazza Venezia, but I did not realise I was slowly about to discover an entrancing, "secret Italy". I am still discovering new treasures and I want to share them with you in my October Adventure.
Ciociaria lies between Rome and Naples, bordered by the sea on one side and the mountains and Abruzzo on the other. It is an area that has remained almost in a time-warp, untouched by mass tourism. The country side is dramatically lovely and the area is very fertile. It has many prestigious, prize-winning local products: wine, olive oil, cheese, vegetables and fruit, and the local restaurants and trattorias know how to make good use of this bounty. The little, mediaeval hill towns all have interesting things to explore with a history going back long before the Romans, and there is a rich religious heritage because this area was in the papal States before the unification of Italy in .
.Some of the places to be visited:
Anagni, known as the "City of Popes" because four popes were born here. It once served as a Papal summer retreat, and In the crypt of San Magno has brilliant, colourful 12th and 13th century frescoes.
At Casamari Abbey, near medieaval Veroli, the monks Gregorian chants float through the air in the peaceful, austere refectory, but modern life is present in the shop selling liqueurs, potions and cosmetics. The 13th century Certosa di Trisulti
is open to visitors and the rich decoration in the18th century pharmacy delights the eye and adds another dimension to religious life.
At Posta Fibreno there is a Nature Reserve and the area teems with wild life. The lake is fed by underwater springs and the crystal-clear waters waters remain a constant throughout the year. There is a small island, known locally as "La Rota", which moves round the lake, propelled by the underwater springs. It is strange to see the slender willows and poplars swaying as they float over the lake.
The trout from the Fibreno river are served in local trattorie and in season Campoli Appennino provides delectable black and white truffles. Amaseno has large buffalo farms and the local mozzarella has won many prizes. The ricotta with walnuts is delicious and I like the Nero di Amaseno, which is covered with vegetable carbon and matured for about 6 months.
Further along the river Isola del Liri amazes us with the great waterfall in the middle of the small town. The water used to power paper mills and today supplies electricity for the castle.
Another unexpected discovery is Casa Lawrence in Picinisco, where D.H :Lawrence stayed in 1919 while he was finishing writing "The Lost Girl". He described it as the back of beyond. Today it is an Agriturismo where the Pacitti family produce great cheeses.
We will move about with a private minibus and stay in two small hotels to avoid too much travel. Our first night will be spent in the famous spa town, Fiuggi, whose waters were praised by Michelangelo. Here we can relax and recover from arrival flights before starting on our Odyssey.
This includes 7 nights with breakfast, 7 main meals and local transport. Also pick up from meeting point in Rome around 10 am on 13 October.