Towards the Roman Sabina
Hills at first smooth, scattered with vineyards and olive groves, then gradually sharper and higher, outline the landscape of the Sabina, crossed by the Via Nomentana and Via Salaria. The first one, very short and reaching the town of Nomentum, now Mentana, was starting from the homonymous gate, closed in the 16th century, and was heading towards the river Aniene and through Monte Sacro.
Remains of the ancient paving can be found in the Nomentum Natural Reserve, where the old town once stood. Mentana is instead known for having been the scene of an important chapter in Italian history on 3rd November 1867: in fact, the Redshirts, heading to Rome under Garibaldi’s command, were defeated by the papal army. The remains of the fallen Garibaldini volunteers are kept in the Bronze Altar. The monument stands in the Park of the Museo Nazionale Garibaldino, founded in 1905 to keep the memorabilia of the battle and other remains related to the Risorgimento epic.
Of more ancient origin, the Via Salaria owes its name to the trading of salt that, from the mouth of the Tiber and through the Boario Field, reached the Adriatic Sea. The road left the Servian walls through Porta Collina and the Aurelian ones through the homonymous gate; from here, it was heading towards the Aniene passing, over the Salario bridge, Castel Giubileo where the ancient Crustumerium once stood (settlement existing since the 11th-10th century B.C., conquered by the Romans in 499 B.C.).
The road then continued until Cures, now Passo Corese, crossed the Apennines to head to Porto d’Ascoli. A small detour allows the visit of Palombara Sabina, Monterotondo and the territory of Sabina, where centuries-old olive groves give shape to the landscape and are the pride of the agricultural production of the area, the olive oil, praised by Columella and Horace for its precious qualities.
At the foothills of Mount Gennaro, Palombara Sabina is characterised by the spiral shape of the village that rises towards the castle built by the Savelli family, feudatory of the entire area, before 1064 and repeatedly renovated. Among the noteworthy monuments in the surrounding area, there is the abbey of Saint John in Argentella standing isolated in the nature.
Monterotondo is a village built around the year 1000 and soon conquered by the Redshirts in 1867, event remembered in the Garibaldini War Memorial, the Remebrance Park and the plaque on the Garibaldi Gate. Worth a visit is also the Orsini Barberini fortress, the baronial palace and the 16th century cathedral.