Civita Castellana

The capital city of the Faliscan people

Civita Castellana

The capital city of the Faliscan people

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Discover what treasures are hidden in Civita Castellana

The carnival of Civita Castellana, one of the most entertaining of the whole Lazio region”.

“The fort of Sangallo, the Borgia family and the National Museum of the Agro Falisco”.

"The best world-know industry of sanitary ceramics”.

Civita Castellana is the largest town of the Agro Falisco, a place rich with history and treasures to be discovered.

The town of Civita Castellana lies upon towering spurs of tuff, deep gorges cutting into the cliffs, offering views of breathtaking beauty, such as the one you can admire from Ponte Clementino, the bridge separating the old center and the modern town.

Back in ancient times the name of the town was Falerii Veteres, the capital city of the Faliscan civilization. During the Renaissance, it was chosen to house the papal residence. Among the most famous popes to reside here we can name Alessandro VI Borgia and Giulio II della Rovere. Civita Castellana is surrounded by nature and archeological sites, only a few kilometers away from Via Amerina and the ancient Faleri Novi.

Did you know… once Mozart, the famous German musician, passing though Civita Castellana during a journey, stopped in the Duomo dei Cosmati and here played the organ. 

Did you know… once Mozart, the famous German musician, passing though Civita Castellana during a journey, stopped in the Duomo dei Cosmati and here played the organ. 

The history of Civita Castellana

The Faliscan capital city

Falerii Veteres, ancient capital city of the Agro Falisco, was the main urban settlement of the Faliscan civilization. Several archaeological sites bear witness to this historical era, such as the ones of Vignale and in the area of Celle, which treasures the remains of the temple devoted to Giunone Curite. The ancient Roman poet, Ovidio, who was married to a Faliscan woman, tells us about the religious processions which were held here.

The Fort of Sangallo, in the old town centre, is home to the Archaeological Museum of the Agro Falisco. The fortress, built on the orders of Alessandro VI Borgia, is a fine example of Renaissance architecture. 

 

Rome and the barbarian invasions

The city of Falerii Veteres was wiped out by the Roman army in 241 B.C, leaving behind 15.000 dead. The Faliscan people resettled in the new-born town of Faleri Novi. Although the new settlement was enclosed by fortified walls, it was easily controlled by others seeing as it found itself on ground level, whereas Falerii Veteres, being surrounded by cliffs and deep gorges, proved to be more difficult to defeat.

With the arrival of barbarian invasions Faleri Novi was abandoned, and its inhabitants returned once again to their original abode, from which the medieval town will arise later.

 

The beauty of a passageway

Behind the Fort of Sangallo, gazing ahead from the bridge which soars over the moat, a breath-taking view stretches for miles, reaching all the way across to the Soratte Mount.

Such a magnificent landscape was reminisced upon by the famous German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The author visited the town as he was making his way to Rome: “The view from the castle is magnificent: The Soratte Mount, a great limestone mass likely part of the Apennine chain, stands out in picturesque solitude. The volcanic areas lie much lower than the Apennine mountains, and in time the watercourses, impetuously flowing, have moulded the earth, carving peaks and cliffs resulting in beautifully sculptural shapes, rocky precipices and an overall discontinuous and irregular landscape”.
This extract is from Italian Journey, the book based on Goethe’s diaries.

Another monument worth visiting is the Duomo of the Cosmati. This picturesque cathedral was built back in the 12th century by one of the most influential roman families of marble-workers, the Cosmati. As attested by a plaque, the famous composer Mozart, on his return journey from Rome, briefly stayed in Civita Castellana and on this occasion played the church’s organ.

Due to the strategic position of Civita Castellana in the territory, being so close to Rome, and because of the beauty of its landscapes, the town has many times in history been visited by important figures. Several times it has been depicted by painters, such as Edouard Bertin, Edward Lear and Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

 

The art of ceramics

The ceramic production of Civita Castellana has in time gone through exportation on a global level. During the Thirties, the local pottery covered 60% of the national production. A significant number of factories, technological innovation within the sector, and great artisanal expertise, lead up to the economic boom of the Sixties. The ceramic industry has represented the socio-economic net of Civita Castellana throughout the entire 20th century. production has now specialized in the making of sanitary-ware, tiles and table-ware of domestic use.

The Museum of Ceramics “Casimiro Marcantoni” offers a display of artworks dating right back to the 18th century, up to the most recent developments of the manufacturing in the Sixties and Seventies.

 

Rich as it is of history and things to be seen, Civita Castellana is one of the most unique towns of the Agro Falisco!

Where is Civita Castellana

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