Sunday 1 June 2014


This photo of Casperia and Monte Soratte courtesy of Giorgio Clementi
A rain storm in the Sabina is something to be experienced... 

We woke up to a grey, cold day... There were a lot of these during our visit to Casperia in 2013... Way more than we had experienced in previous years... Our friends Stefano and Nicoleta were very disappointed for us, always apologising for the weather... But what could anyone do? Nothing! As far as we were concerned, good weather or bad, we were having the time of our lives. We were spending time in our favourite place on the planet with easy access to our amazing array from Italian friends... We had warm clothing... and Il Sogno, the wonderful house we were renting from the Phillips family, came equipped not only with a fabulous fire place, but also with an umbrella. When the morning rain eased up a bit, we bundled up, grabbed the umbrella and our camera and went out for a stroll.

I have said it many times in other posts on this blog... If you ever worry about your Italian holiday caloric intake, the best place for you to be staying is in a hilltown... But not all hill towns are created equal. Casperia is one of those hill towns where once you enter the old fortified gates you are faced with thousands of stairs... 

Photo courtesy of Giorgio Clementi

There is no real flat space inside the town walls except for the small piazza above the Porta Romana, Piazza Umberto I...

...the Piazza del Municipio where the Comune offices are, and another small piazza in front of San Giovanni Battista Church.

Photo of San Giovanni Battista church courtesy of Giorgio Clementi
So as long as you are out and about every day, you are getting a lot of exercise. The move of the town alimentari, tabaccheria and other shops from their former locations facing the Piazza del Municipio to just outside the Porta Romana in the 1960s and 70s forces people who stay inside the borgo to go up and down hundreds of steps daily. Casperia, with its spiral of stepped streets and steep interconnecting vicoli--alleys, is like a 3-D snakes and ladders game board... and around every corner is a new vista to photograph and a new adventure...

Photo of Monte Soratte seen from Casperia courtesty of Stefano Aperio Bella
So armed with the umbrella we set off for a stroll through the borgo... We travelled up the stairs behind the house to the peak of the hill finding one of our favourite little winding streets, Vicolo Serpenti.  

At one point, during one of our earlier visits to Casperia, we fantasized about buying this little house... We headed down Vicolo Serpenti past our friend Clelia's childhood home... When Clelia's family lived in this house, the main door to the residence was where the window is now above the plants on the left... Apparantly there was an outdoor bread oven to the left of the door. You can see traces of the old bread oven where the lighter stone is...

We continued down Vicolo Serpenti past this house. Some years back, another photo of this house that I randomly posted on Facebook, brought some rather amazing people into our lives... the above mentioned Clelia Angelelli and her family, and their friends Massimo and Paola, and their family. If you haven't read it already, here is a link to my blog post about that unforgettable first encounter.

At the foot of Vicolo Serpenti is Via Latini where we stopped in front of Casa Latini to take a picture. Casa Latini is a beautifully restored 13th centura bed and breakfast during the low season, and is used as a residence for visitors participating in yoga holiday programmes offered by Sunflower Retreats during the summer.

From Via Latini we climbed up more stairs again by way of a vicolo toward the Church of San Giovanni Battista.

The Romanesque Bell Tower of the Church is the highest point in the borgo. At night it is beautifully illuminated.

What many people don't realize is that the parish church of Saint John the Baptist is the home of a spectacular treasure... the Presepe Monumentale, a 60 square metre monumental Nativity Scene.

This spectacular work of art which uses the buildings and streets of Casperia in 1:10 scale miniature and 80 Neapolitan figurines to recreate Bethlehem of the Nativity is the ten year labour of love of GianNicola Mariani. 

Begun in 1992, Mr. Mariani finally completed this wonder in 2002. If you are ever in Casperia on a Sunday or some other time when the church is open, this is well worth a visit.

The rain filled clouds hung heavy over the Sabina. We made our way down to the lower town where we exited the Porta Romana and headed to the alimentari for some groceries. On the way back to the house, we stopped by at Friends Cafe to say hello to our friends, Stefano and Nicoleta, and to have a drink before we headed by up the stairs to Il Sogno.

The light rain which had been our constant companion throughout our walk through the town suddenly turned into a veritable downpour. 

Photo courtesy of Stefano Aperio Bella
This was our cue to kiss our friends goodbye and hurry up the rain slicked stone steps back to the house where we lit a fire, put on some Paolo Conte's Greatest Hits and made ourselves a simple pasta dinner.

Outside the wind buffeted shuttered windows of Il Sogno a real storm raged. The downpour turned the narrow cobbled streets of Casperia into rushing rivers of water that washed the old town clean. 

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