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Digital Subscriptions > Italia! > Dec 2018 > Lazio & Abruzzo

Lazio & Abruzzo

Driving northeast from Rome, into deepest Lazio, you soon come across some places that can only be in Italy. Penny Wainwright takes the tour…
The River Aniene, site of the Palio di San Lorenzo; I Canaje, the public laundry in Pacentro; view of Subiaco from Palazzo del Drago; handmade paper and watermark; a pilgrim walks through Castel di Tora; the view from Rocca Lorenizo; 12th-century tower in Castel di Tora; traditional greeting in Castel di Tora
Images by Penny Wainwright

On the drive from Rome through the tree-covered hills of Lazio, on the shores of Lago Turano, is Castel di Tora, one the Borghi più belli d’Italia; and with the Monte Navegna and Monte Cervia nature reserve close by, it is indeed a picturesque spot, with a curious recent history. Built on a rocky outcrop, this medieval village is dominated by its 11th-century fortress tower, which is all that remains of the original castle. A river used to run through the valley, until 1936, when the Turano dam was built to provide water for hydro-electric power and the lake was created. Once the valley was flooded and farming was lost, the number of inhabitants dwindled from 1,000 to just 300 today. In the village I met the mayor, Ceserina d’Alessandro, and villagers in their traditional dress, including Rita, who owns a small shop in the village and is known as ‘Madame della Carpe’. Such is the bond of this close-knit community, Rita tells me the villagers are her family, as she now lives on her own. Local artist Elisabetta Catarno creates mosaics of native wildlife using shells collected from the lake’s shores and they adorn the walls of houses along the narrow streets of the village.

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About Italia!

There’s a seasonal feel to the pages this month, kicking off with our Gift Guide, which is full to the brim with Italian treats and gifts for friends and family. We travel to Piedmont, where Turin takes Christmas lights to another level with sophisticated displays that will take your breath away; and on to Milan, where the city’s best cafés are wrapped up in Christmas cheer. To escape from it all, we discover the forgotten history of a quiet corner of Lazio that’s right off the beaten track, marvel at the extraordinary Krampus tradition, and attend a chestnut festival near Viterbo.