One Saturday morning of September, I woke up early and decided to do something new. It was a while since I had picked up my camera and it was a lifetime that I meant to visit the abandoned town of Monterano. Once upon a time, there was a magical and fascinating village. It used to be an important village, commercially speaking, and Monterano also has a church designed by Bernini himself.
Following a sack and an outbreak of malaria, Monterano was abandoned forever, marking its decline. The road to the ancient Monterano from the village of Canale Monterano is a pleasant country road, nestled in the woods. You can’t walk there because it is too far from the centre of town, but once you reach the proximity of the site, you are forced to continue on foot.
The town had been abandoned at the time, but it is still deserted today, no one was there. The only sound I heard was the flow of the river Mignone and the chirping of birds. The sky was electric blue, the vegetation green, and where the vegetation was thicker, it seemed that the air was green as well. The village is perched on the slopes of a tuff cliff, where you can see Etruscan tombs cut into the rock. At one point, I saw some tombs, and as I approached, I saw a staircase and an archway that led into the village. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that there was still an entire city to explore!
I knew it had often been used as a location for films, including Ben Hur and The Marchese del Grillo, and I had heard that the place was very impressive, but I didn’t realize that I would find an entire village with a castle. I was only aware of the church and the convent. At every street and every corner I walked, I remained more and more amazed at what I saw. There was a castle, which once must have been very impressive, with its side towers; another church, a bell tower, as well as some other buildings I didn’t identify.
All of a sudden, coming out of an alley, a clearing opened in front of me and the vision of the convent manifested itself in all its beauty. A visit to the church could not be missed, with its centuries-old fig tree growing inside. The roof is gone, but you can see the niches and walls, which are still intact.
Returning from walking behind the convent, I thought my day could not get any better, since the place gave me such peace and serenity, despite its sad end. Instead, just as I was thinking this, I found a patch of four-leaf-clovers. They were so many that after having taken a good handful, I left the rest.
Finished picking shamrocks, I turned the corner back to the clearing, which has a beautiful octagonal shaped fountain in the middle, and I found four horses grazing the grass and drinking from the fountain in complete freedom. I love horses and seeing them in this place, free, was magical. While I was happily walking back to my car, I saw a sign indicating a waterfall. Indeed, I had heard water flowing all day, so I decided to follow the path that led down to the valley.
The trail was steep and narrow, but well kept. About halfway down is an Etruscan via cava, a road dug out of rock. Continuing the route, finally I arrived in the valley, where I found a lunar landscape: huge stones on one side of the valley, near the river. The river Mignone, which that day flowed like a stream, during the rainy season becomes a rather important river, and these rocks were to testify its power. Walking through the large stones, which are located close to the riverbank, I was surprised to see that the riverbed was rust red, almost a dark orange. I guess it's due to the iron in the water, but this colour made the atmosphere even more surreal. A lovely wooden bridge connects the banks of the stream leading into the woods. Just ahead of the bridge is a beautiful cave with long tunnels that are, unfortunately, closed off by gratings. It would be fun to explore them.
To complete the frame of this beautiful and surreal valley, there has to be a natural hot water spring. Slightly further back, a spring of bubbling sulphur water boils away. Monterano is a magical place that lets out unique vibes; it has been a truly memorable day, one of those days that makes the soul feel good.