The portal of the Rome Chamber of Commerce for agritourism and the local area
This itinerary runs along the Monti Predestini ridge and touches some of the most suggestive mountains, which offer magnificent views of the Roman countryside. The path unfolds through the three picturesque towns of Genazzano, Rocca di Cave and Capranica, all of which preserve their old medieval structure and show the different kinds of defensive structures typical of the Roman area.
Leave Genazzano – an old town on top of a hill, once a fief belonging to the Colonna family which was then passed to Valentino Borgia and was also home to Pope Martino V and Prospero Colonna, as well as being a crucial centre for the control of the whole area.
At the town entrance, just outside the medieval walls to the right, you can admire the beautiful nymphaeum by Bramante. Having entered the town, the uphill road leads to the small church of S. Paolo, a Romanesque asymmetric building with three naves which was rebuilt during the 18th century. The Colonna family funeral monuments are of interest, as are the Renaissance busts of the Apostles set above the triumphal arch. Further ahead is the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Buon Consiglio, built in the 13th century but readapted in the 18-19th centuries, with an interesting Renaissance crucifix and paintings and, in particular, a precious marble balustrade by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the shape of a drape, held up by six angels, from the church of S. Maria in Posterula in Rome.
At the top of the town sits the grandiose castle of the Colonna family, a medieval fortress enlarged during the 15th century by Oddone Colonna and Valentino Borgia, and, later on, during the 17th century. Go past the courtyard at the entrance to the large halls, which are set up as contemporary art exhibition areas (for further information contact: +39 06 955791).
Leave the historic centre of Genazzano by the lower battlemented gate and turn right towards piazzale della Repubblica, then proceed towards via della Moletta. Pass the bridge that crosses the Rio, and go uphill to the right following a dirt track which leads to a beautiful view over the town. The track ends with a fork where the sign posts for the path begin. Turn left and proceed uphill through the woods of the Ara della Croce. Continue along the hillside for a few bends until you reach a reforestation area. Continue to the left, and, after a few more bends, you will reach the gorge which leads to a ridge near Punta Colubria. Here the path joins with the road that goes round Rocca di Cave: a brief visit to its picturesque castle is well worth it. Built by the Colonna family, the castle dominates the town and the spectacular gorge with its massive octagonal form and its two angular towers (the castle houses the Ardito Desio Geoantropological Town Museum, for further information contact: +39 06 9584098).
Go back to the asphalt road towards the pastures of the Piano Salieto; proceed until you reach a fork; take the path to the right towards Capranica Predestina, where another short detour for a brief visit is recommended. This charming town is home to the Naturalist Town Museum of the Monti Prenestini (for further information contact:+39 06 9584031), which illustrates the local eco-system through models and audio-visual aids. The Maddalena parish, built in 1520 by Cardinal Capranica and probably built by Bramante, is also noteworthy. From the main square, on the left of the war memorial, a dirt lane leads to the road that goes to San Vito Romano. Further on the road narrows down to a path which crosses the hillside of the Fornace on the Rio valley, through handsome chestnut groves of the Orto del Papa to where the two ditches meet. From here the path continues along a small road which crosses the wood at the foot of the mountain. After the Rio stream you will reach the bottom of the valley from where you can take the initial path back to the starting point.
Starting point: Genazzano
S. Ardito, A piedi nel Lazio, vol. 1, Roma 2005