The Ghost City of Monterano

We left the thermal spa as quickly as we could after breakfast (buffet style, fine, but not great) which was made much better for the people-watching of a large family group. They clearly ‘took the waters’ as a family tradition and it was fun to watch them interact.

Our destination that day was the deserted city of Monterano, a deserted village sitting on the top of a hill — by which I mean a massive volcanic rock whose sides drop about 300 feet on two underlying gorges — inside the natural park of the same name, located in the center of Italy not too far from Rome. It is a ghost city made up of beautiful ruins.

This is the kind of place J. and I love to explore.

Just at the entrance there are a series of Etruscan caves, and a Roman aqueduct.

The largest structure in the center of Monterano is the castle. The stronghold was redesigned and reshaped during its life, up until the Baroque age. In 1679, one Prince Altieri commissioned the famous artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini to completely remake the fortress, transforming it into a modern palace with a beautiful fountain featuring a lion statue on top.

And yes, by Bernini, we mean that guy . . . who apparently wasn’t particularly appreciated in France, unlike his native Italy.

The town was mostly abandoned in the late 1700s after malaria decimated the population.

If you make your way through the town and down a gentle incline on the others die, you come to a wide open space with a — surprise! — building in the center.

It looks like a villa, but was actually intended to be a monastery. Nowadays, there is a tree growing inside, which I found particularly evocative.

As we were leaving, we were greeted by herd of goats, their herder bringing them to the field to enjoy the local grass.

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