The Festival delle Città Medievali, 35th edition, from the 31st july till the 23th of August, 2015.
From three decades the Festival of Medieval Cities is considered an appointment of considerable cultural significance for Frosinone’s province and in particular for the area comprised within the boundaries of the cities of Anagni, Alatri, Fiuggi and by the plateaus of Arcinazzo. In this respect, the Festival has played a major role in spreading musical culture in this area, already considerably rich of cultural inheritance and tradition. This cultural excellence has been achieved by involving the Festival’s faithful public in a fascinating repertoire performed by extraordinary soloists.
Also the 2015 edition of the Festival is perfectly matching its “historical” characteristics; the musical program of the Festival spans from Classicism to the twentieth century with a special focus on jazz and on the popular matrix of classical music.
FIUGGI: WELLNESS AND CULTURE
The town of Fiuggi was called “Anticoli di campagna” until 1911. Some hold that the name derives from the Latin “antiquae incolae”, meaning the ancient local people; others maintain that it comes from “ante colles”, because the first settlement stood on a hill surrounded by higher mountains. Records of the town’s history date back to the first half of the 11th century. Yet the area was occupied in the 5th-4th BC by the Ernici who built their settlement at an altitude of around 800 m. The village was defended by two ditches still existing. After the subjugation of the Ernici people by Rome, a Roman colony settled in the village. In 1088-89 it passed under the rule of the Papal State, whereas the Anticolana valley became a feud of the Cajetani’s family. Ruled in turn by the Morgani’s, the Coloni’s and the Carafa’s, the village went back again to the Colonna’s in 1571. SIGHTS Fiuggi is a thermal resort known since the 12th century; many illustrious people took its water including Pope Boniface VIII, the artist Michaelangel, Pope Pius X, the politician Giolitti and the philosopher Benedetto Croce. The old town of Fiuggi stands on a hill overlooking an enchanting valley, at 747 m a.s.l. The church of St. Biagio Martire is worth visiting for its painting of the Virgin Mary with Jesus and a picture by the Cavalier d’Arpino. The church of S. Chiara has lost its original structure through the years. It was erected in the 18th century and consecrated in 1747; in front of its external staircase stands the monument to the Faioli sisters, a work by the sculptor Angelo Canivari (1989) depicting two of the three sisters in the act of receiving a baby girl asking for shelter, while the third sister comforts her. The City Council Palace was built in 1925 and 1926 on a drawing by the engineer Luigi Rodolfi. Its frontage has a colonnade made of three rounded arches. Inside it is possible to admire a fresco depicting Boniface VIII on the throne as he receives a delegation of ambassadors carrying a sample of Fiuggi water. The fresco, unfortunately incomplete, is a work by the local painter Alfredo Tosti. The oldest church of Fiuggi is the church devoted to the patron saint St. Biagio. Although the exact period of its building is unknown, yet it is certain that in the year 1000 it belonged to the Benedictines in Subiaco. As it stood outside the circle of walls of the castle it was abandoned because it was thought inconvenient for the inhabitants; so another church was built within the walls, namely the collegiate church of St. Pietro Apostolo. Yet the people restored the old church as they preferred it. Inside the church there is a 13th-century fresco depicting the Virgin Mary with Jesus and two more recent paintings that come from the Roman church of St. Lorenzo. The pictures feature St. Lorenzo in the act of christianization. St. Ippolito and the Virgin Mary with Jesus between St. Francis and St. Augustine. Noteworthy is also the holy water font carved out of a Roman column coming from Nero’s villa in Subiaco. The most important monuments of Fiuggi include the monument to the Virgin Mary, 30 m high, whose base bears the inscription: “Filippo Falconi donates to the people of Fiuggi”, as it was built with the generous contribution of the Falconi family. The statue was blessed by Pope John XXIII in Castelgandolfo. Down below there is Fiuggi “fonte”, with the sources that have made the town one of the most important spas in Italy. Although it is also suitable for sports and relaxing, Fiuggi is especially famous for its thermal baths, which since the 19th century gathered people from all over Italy, thanks to the many curing powers attributed to its waters suitable for the treatment of renal calculi, gout, etc. The first attempts at organizing the sources date back to 1870, but the first bath was built in 1905 and named after Boniface VIII. Its neoclassic style has been gradually changed into a modern structure made of a mushroom-shaped concrete roof with two lateral sail-shaped wings designed by the famous architect Luigi Moretti. Inside the building there is a large park with blooming flower beds, tennis courts, mini-golf, children playgrounds, bowls playfields, etc. Along the year the town administration organizes many shows which are held in the theatre, inside the baths.
(source APT Frosinone)
MINERAL WATERS: THE THERMAE OF FIUGGI
Although known since the times of Plinio the elder, the earliest documents which testify the therapeutic use of Fiuggi’s water, preserved in the Vatican archives, refer to the middle ages citing the name of a famous patient, Pope Boniface VIII, which benefited of the curative effect of these waters. Also Michelangelo, subsequently, was cured from kidney stones by Fiuggi’s “miraculous” water.
The Fiuggi’s thermal center spreads downstream from the margins of the town, in the surrounding woods formed by chestnut, oak and pine trees. The thermae of Fiuggi are formed by two hydrothermal facilities: the spring of Bonifacio VIII (Fonte Bonifacio VIII) and the Anticolana spring (Fonte Anticolana). La Fonte Bonifacio VIII was built at the beginning of the century, in an elegant liberty style which can be admired, today, only in the impressive entrance portal. It is the favorite place for morning care, which must be done on an empty stomach.
La Fonte Anticolana, also known as “New Source” since it was opened in the 1920s, is attended mainly in the afternoon. Situated in a panoramic position, it offers beautiful walks in the gardens of Themae’s large park, where tennis courts, bowls, mini-golf, table tennis and children’s playgrounds are located. Here is located also the Theatre of the Thermae which every year hosts major musical and cultural events.
Besides being an important thermal center, Fiuggi is today also an important congress venue, thanks to the existence of many efficient facilities. In addition, the congresses’ attenders often prolong their time in Fiuggi for further days due to the presence of elegant wellness centres within the most prestigious hotel of the city, .
The old town is of considerable artistic and cultural interest. Passing through its evocative alleys, you can reach and admire fascinating ancient buildings and churches, in addition to the Palazzo Comunale and the Teatro Comunale. Besides the thermal and conferencing activities, Fiuggi has a strong appeal for golf tourism. The fields of Fiuggi Golf Club, within a natural park that dominates the countryside, offer a beautiful 18-hole path at 621 meters above the sea level full of ups and downs, as well as ditches, in which are often held prestigious national and international contests. The characteristics of the path requires a higher physical and technical commitment, but the path is also suitable for those who wish to practice this sport purely at an amateur level.
(fonte APT Frosinone)
Countless are the castles, fortresses, towers that soar high above the Fiuggi’s region (the “Ciociaria”) telling us about past struggles, conquests, hegemonies and decadences. In a border zone between the Papal State and the Kingdom of the two Sicilies, but not to far from Rome, this territory was ruled by the temporal power of the Popes and by the powerful feudal dynasties which followed one another in the conquest of these fertile valleys. The counts of Marsi, Ceccano, Aquino and then the Caetani and the Colonna dominated the medieval scene upon this area. These families struggled with all foreigners kings and armies which invaded these lands: Henry IV, Robert Guiscard and Roger II of Sicily, Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II, Tancredi, Manfredi and Charles of Anjou. Mighty figures of Popes are also part of the historical heritage of the Ciociaria: Innocent III, Gregory IX, Alexander IV, Boniface VIII. And it shouldn’t be forgotten the historical, cultural and artistic greatness of the Abbey of Monte Cassino with its large land possessions (named “Sancti Benedicti”) governed by the glorious abbots Aligerio, Desiderio, Odorisio, Roffredo dell’Isola. But even before this turbulent period threats coming from the barbarian invasions and also by the Saracens had determined the need to fortify the original settlements founded by the ancient inhabitants of the region (Ernici, Volsci, Samnites, Romans).
Thus the CASTRA, or fortified towns, arose with their mighty walls: they were used to block roads from prominent locations or to resist furious attacks by enemies. At the highest point of the fortress, there was the ROCCA. Its towers, were sighting stations that often, with appropriate warnings, could link the various fortresses. The towers had obviously also a defensive function, especially those built in the plains along the course of the rivers. They were called “Torri di Mola”, because they protected the mills which were providing the daily bread of the poor populations. The CASTELLI (Castles) stood in the most important strategic points. Essential part of the castle was the “mastio”, i.e. a very high tower from which they could monitor the external land, and courtyards and last refuge for the defense. Over the centuries, especially from the 7th to the 10th century, the Castle was governed by the rude dwelling of the castellano, who ruled justice. Only later the PALAZZI (“Palace”) started to substitute the CASTELLI. However also the Palaces were built at the beginning as a dwelling and defence of the feudal Lord but then they gradually expanded and embellished. Through the grandeur of its construction, the Lord could show all its power and discourage the territorial claims of the overbearing neighbors. But over the centuries being the government concentrated in hands of few principles many small forts appeared then inadequate also in respect of the new needs of Defense based on artillery. Many castles were thus abandoned and fell into disrepair, but others turned into Ducal palaces, sumptuous dwelling of the last Lords. When you’ll visit Ciociaria take the time to breathe deeply the essence of these places, that have kept alive, over time, their authenticity.
HIGH CIOCIARIA, IN CIOCIARIA, BETWEEN NATURE AND CESANESE WINE
There is a well known area in Ciociaria which is famous for its vineyards. This area is so renowned that it is the only one in the province of Frosinone to be entitled, since 1973, to use the D.O.C. mark (Denominazione d’origine Controllata) for its wines. This part of Ciociaria is formed by the municipalities of Anagni, Acuto, Serrone, Paliano and Piglio and it is possible to visit this area following a simple route of about thirty kilometers. The production, which is mainly red wine, is based on two different types of Cesanese wine, the typical Cesanese characterized by large grapes and the Affile variety by smaller ones.
The trip across the 390 hectares of D.O.C vineyards begins in Anagni. This ancient town, founded by the Ernici and birthplace of four Popes, had an important historical role in the 12th century.
After eleven kilometers you arrive in Acuto passing through forests and olive groves. This village was once the feudal property of the bishop of Anagni and the medieval castle as well as its cylindrical towers shows its important historical heritage. You can then proceed to Piglio, main feudal property of the Orsini during the Middle Ages. A “must” of Piglio is the wonderful atmosphere of the “Sagra dell’Uva” (grape Festival) in October.
A few more kilometers are left and you arrive in Serrone, a little town rich in Roman and Medieval findings. We recommend visiting the powerful walls and the fortress of the Colonna family.
From Serrone you can easily reach the Monte Scalambra. There,at 1400 meters, you can enjoy a splendid view of the Sacco Valley, the Lepini and the Ausoni Mounts.
Last stop of this itinerary of Cesanese wine is Paliano, not far from Serrone a historical stronghold of the noble Colonna family who are still today owners of the splendid 16th century “palazzo” (palace).
(source Apt Frosinone)
BREATHTAKING NATURE AND SKI SLOPES
At the extreme North of the Ciociaria area, on the Simbruini and Ernici mountains, two of the most important ski resorts of Lazio are located: Campo Staffi, in the municipality of Filettino and Campo Catino, in the municipality of Guarcino. These two resorts offer their customers not only modern facilities but also the possibility of splendid excursions with cross country skis. In particular, from campo Staffi, it is possible to have access to the long path of Campo Ceraso.
If winter sports are the main attractions of this area, we mustn’t forget the summer attractions. A large part of the territory is included in the Regional Park of Monti Simbruini where splendid forests, springs, peaks, flowers, and animals provide a magnificent scenery for excursions on foot, horseback, or by bicycle.
There are also historical and artistic sights, which deserve a more detailed visit. Guarcino for example stands out from its medieval area which rises around Via Monastero (Monastero road), beyond the churches of St. Nicholas and St. Michele. Proceeding along the road which turns north west towards the Aniene river arrive at Trevi nel Lazio where the remains of the ancient Acropolis of the Aequi, founders of this town are located. On the foundations of this Acropolis the walls and castle of the Caetani were erected. The dungeon, which is the oldest part of the castle, is still in good condition. Filettino has also preserved itself and is rather characteristic with its narrow alleys and squares overlooking the mountains. Beautiful is the parish church of St. Maria Assunta and that of cemetery (St. Nicholas) with its splendid 12th century frescoes.
Of particular interest is the torch-lit procession which is held on the 30th of December in the slopes of Campo Staffi. In the same month the “Sagra del Ciavattone” (a typical bread)and that of “cotiche con polenta” (pork with cornmeal) takes place.
(source Apt Frosinone)