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There are so many interesting places in Lazio that I’ve never seen in any guidebook. The abandoned town of Monterano is one of them. I stumbled across it one evening while cruising the interwebs, looking for something else entirely. I guess in English we’d call it a ‘ghost town’ but Italians don’t really have a word for ghosts, the word they use is abandonata, so I’m calling it abandoned.

Source: http://www.livingroma.it

The Church and Monastery of San Bonaventura. Source: http://www.livingroma.it

The abandoned town of Monterano is located on a hilltop about 50 km’s north west of Rome, just a little west of Lake Bracciano. To get to the abandoned town you have to drive from either the little town of Canale Monterano (3kms away), or from Manziana, a bit over 5km’s away. It is now within the Riserva Naturale di Monterano, which means the final half a kilometer or so to the abandoned town of Monterano must be accessed on foot. It has been completely uninhabited for just over two hundred years, so there’s no café, nowhere to buy food or water, no evidence whatsoever of industrial modern life within the abandoned town. How great is that?!

Originally inhabited by the Etruscans, the Romans quickly took over the hilltop, so some of the buildings and the aqueduct are said to date from around the 4th Century. However its populations and fortunes have waxed and waned through the centuries; first falling to the barbarian invaders after the fall of the roman empire, then refortified around the 10th century and repopulated, only to be battered by malaria, but the final blow came in 1800 when the French army burned and destroyed it and its remaining inhabitants completely. Its most recent building (in ruins) are the remains of the Church and Convent of Bonaventura, pictured above, which were built in 1670.

There are numerous caves and Etruscan burial sites dotted around the lower part of the hills, and an Etruscan path cut through the tufa to allow easy access to the valley below, although I think visitors aren’t allowed access to these caves and pathways. The other really interesting aspect to this site ~ besides the abandoned town ~ is that there are sulphurous geothermal pools dotted around. Pools of smelly boiling mud! I guess its not to everyone’s taste, but I find it fascinating.

I can’t wait to be able to discover the place. Must remember to wear some very sensible shoes.

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