Ciociaria is the beautiful region in Italy covering the area between Rome and Naples. Full of food, culture, history, art and wonderful people, Ciociaria is the perfect place for an enjoyable holiday. I have just returned home from the #AmazingCiociaria blog tour and was absolutely amazed by the history of the area along with the stunning surroundings. The region is often overlooked by tourists because it is so close to Rome, but its proximity to one of Italy’s most famous cities makes it very easy to visit. Stay tuned for upcoming articles in our Ciocioria series, but for now, here’s an overview of 10 great reasons why you should visit!
I think food is an obvious reason for visiting any part of Italy, but the food in Ciociaria was a cut above the rest. There is delicious and wide range of freshly made Italian classics, such as pasta. The region is also famous for it’s cheese and meats. The homemade cheese was outstanding and is characterized by the regional tradition of sheep farming. I had the pleasure of sampling sheep, goat and buffalo cheese. The meat in Ciociaria was also outstanding and comes from locally grazed animals.
As Ciociaria is so close to Rome, it played an integral part in both Roman and Italian history. There are so many towns and cities within the region that are home to some fascinating historical sites. Some of the highlights include Anagni (city of the Popes – named so because of the number of popes who were born there), Alatri (a pre-Roman town and home to one of the largest city wall’s of its kind in Italy), Cassino (home to the famous Monte Cassino Abbey) and the ancient city of Arpino which dates back to the 7th century BC and is the birthplace of Cicero.
Going hand in hand with history, Ciociaria is also a great place for art lovers to visit. The insides of many of the abbeys in the region are stunning. Artwork includes everything from Byzantine-style frescoes from the 12th and 13th century in Anagni up to the restoration work done at Monte Cassino Abbey after World War II. Another highlight is the Cristo nel labirinto, a fresco discovered in Alatri, which depicts Christ in the centre of a labyrinth. The date and the exact meaning of the fresco is still unknown.
If you’re a wine lover you definitely need to visit Ciociaria! The wine tradition in Ciociaria dates back to pre-Roman times. For red wine, three denominations derive from the Cesanese di Affile: the Cesanese del Piglio DOCG, the Cesanese di Affile DOC and the Cesanese di Olevano DOC. The white wine in the area is the Passerina del Frusinate. There are also some great wine guides and tours for visitors to the area.
I experienced some excellent live music while I was in Ciciario. We attended a concer by Musicisti Basso Lazio, a music project which works to reinvent and revive the musical heritage of the region. Their show incorporated both traditional music and dance. In Aprino, you can also visit the historic workshop of Luigi Embergher, guitar and mandolin maker, and Domenico Cerrone, violin maker.
If you’re interested in walking and hiking there are some great opportunities for you to do so in Ciociaria. One example is the new Cammino di San Benedetto or ‘The Way of St. Benedict’. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of St. Benedict and visit the most significant places in his life. There are 16 stages of the Cammino and can be completed on foot, by bicycle or by horse. We attended the opening event on 30 May 2015, and it was very exciting!
The scenery in Ciociaria is unbelievable beautiful. I don’t think I have ever been to a place where there is such gorgeous views every way you turn. Most of the cities are located on the tops of hills, meaning you can look out and see far across the region. The towns are also very picturesque, and if you think of a romantic picture of Italy in your head, that is exactly what you get when you visit Ciociaria. Old cobblestone streets, traditional looking Italian buildings and views from the hilltops all make for some of the best scenery I have ever seen.
8. Monte Cassino
The Abbey of Monte Cassino truly deserves its own spot on this list. Out of all of my travels, it was one of the most impressive sites I have ever seen. As one of the most famous abbey’s in Italy, it was here that St. Benedict established his first established his first monastery in 529 which went on to be head of the Benedictine Order. The abbey has a rich history and probably most famously was destroyed by Allied bombing after being mistaken for Nazi headquarters during World War II. The abbey has since been rebuilt and provides some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Italy.
9. Proximity to Rome and Naples
As mentioned previously, Ciociaria is located very close to two of Italy’s major cities. Ciociaria is only a few dozen miles from Rome, making it a perfect place to escape to after touring the big city. With it’s sprawling countryside and small towns, it is a perfect place to go for a few days after touring the grand sites of Rome, or for visitors who have already been to Rome and are looking to do something different.
10. The People
If you’re looking for a warm and friendly welcome from locals during your holiday, you will find it in Ciociaria! The people we met were absolutely lovely and very happy to welcome you to their home. As Ciociaria is often overlooked as a tourist destination, locals are more than happy to show you the great things their region has to offer and make sure you feel comfortable. You do not feel like a stranger in Ciociaria, you feel like a friend!
So what are you waiting for! You can learn more about visiting Ciociaria here: www.visitlazio.com