A brand new excursion!
For the first time I can offer deluxe accommodations in an elegant nineteenth-century manor house right on a Roman road, the Via Cassia. Set in a park of majestic pines and gorgeous flowers, Villa La Trinità has spacious bedrooms with ensuite bath, lovely antique furnishings and a large swimming pool. Best of all, Michela treats you like a guest in her home. Come spend a week with me next spring, exploring the magnificent landscape, discovering the rich history and relaxing in beautiful surroundings.
A bit of history
In the fourth century BCE, Rome was gobbling up Italy at a rapid pace. At Sutri to the north, they hit a roadblock: the rugged forest of the Cimini mountains. “Pathless and terrifying,” wrote historian Livy. This was the heartland of the powerful Etruscans and Faliscans, remarkable people who had built monumental cities while Rome was still a backwater. Skilled artisans and expert seafarers, the Etruscans had long traded with the Greeks and absorbed much of their civilization; they were the first literate people in Italy. Allied with the Faliscans, they held off the Roman juggernaut for two hundred years, but were ultimately defeated.
Tower of Orlando
The pathless forest became a network of Roman roads, most notably the Via Cassia to Florence. Along it arose a way station near today’s Villa La Trinità, evidenced by numerous Roman inscriptions, tombs and monuments. One tomb yielded a stunning marble sarcophagus now in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. Two imposing funerary monuments mystified local people in medieval times. Having no knowledge of the Roman past, they dubbed the structures “The Towers of Orlando,” attributing their origin to the legendary knight of Charlemagne who was reputedly born nearby (see sidebar). The name stuck and is still used today.
Two other roads branched off the Cassia: the Via Amerina into Umbria and the Via Clodia to the west. Both are rich in artifacts cut in stone by Etruscans, Faliscans and Romans: marvelous bridges, ornamented tombs mimicking cozy homes; narrow passages cut into canyon walls; theatres, aqueducts, cisterns. Less than an hour away are the famous painted tombs of Tarquinia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Legend of Orlando
The Holy Roman Empire was born on Christmas day of the year 800, when Charlemagne was crowned Emperor by the pope in Rome. This much is fact. A legend arose that Charlemagne paused in Sutri on his way to Rome, and there encountered his sister Berta and her son Orlando. The two had been living in a cave, a former Etruscan tomb, after Berta’s banishment from her homeland. Orlando was to become Charlemagne’s chief knight — and the subject of countless medieval songs and tales. In French he was called Roland.
Sutri tombs: Orlando’s birthplace?
Etruscan tombs near Barbarano Romano
Mithraic cult chamber, Sutri
Etruscan tomb painting at Tarquinia
Barbarano Romano on the Via Clodia
Via Amerina with Roman tombs
A week of discovery
For seven days we’ll enjoy scenic walks and excursions: volcanic lakes, a lush canyon resembling a rain forest, numerous picturesque towns, archeological sites and museums. As always the meals will be memorable: I’ve personally chosen terrific family restaurants where we’ll enjoy delicious home-style food and wine.
With just four to six guests, there’s a refreshing sense of spontaneity, and you get just the trip you want. You can join a group or put together your own. Walks are typically 5 to 8 miles per day depending on the group’s ambition level.
The first week (23-30 May) is fully booked, but the week of 2-9 June is still available. The price is 2175 Euros per person for a party of four, 1925 Euros per person for a party of six. Prices are based on double occupancy and include all lodging, meals, ground transportation and guided excursions for seven days. The price in US dollars will be based on the exchange rate next May (currently 1 euro = US$1.10). Airfare is not included. We’ll meet in Rome and drive to Capranica. Booking is open until 25 January or until the maximum group size is reached. More about Villa La Trinità here.
Write to me to book a spot on this excursion.
All trips are custom designed for four to six guests, and there are many options. Learn more at www.romanroadwalks.com or write to me.
Donations for Earthquake Relief
Survivors of the August earthquake in the Amatrice area are still in desperate need of help. You can donate to the Italian Red Cross here.
To subscribe to the Roman Road Walks mailing list, click here
To unsubscribe, click here and put “unsubscribe” in the Comments box.