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When Beauty is Reflected in a Mirror of Water

Discovering Lazio and its Agritourism Farms and Properties

When Beauty is Reflected in a Mirror of Water

Water, the origin of life and an invaluable resource, has been of primary importance since the dawn of civilization. The economies of towns and cities have been built on and bound to it, but there are also instances where waterways represent a kind of historical memory, fluid yet permanent, of shared contrasts.
It is along these waterways that we want to lead you, following the sea, lakes and rivers to discover the localities of Lazio, for when  seen from this particular perspective, they assume a unique charm...

Let's begin with the Eternal City: Rome's inseparable link with the Tiber has led to its exceptional cultural, archaeological, environmental and even recreational heritage. As you walk along the banks of the romantic Tiber, it's worth stopping at the Garibaldi Bridge for a splendid view of Tiber Island, affectionately known by the Romans as 'The Big Boat' because of its shape. The island was formed over the centuries from the debris carried by the Tiber, and has now become a traditional feature on postcards of Rome. Continuing on towards the Sant'Angelo Bridge, it's impossible not to be affected by the compelling beauty of Castel Sant'Angelo, with St. Peter's Basilica glimpsed in the distance, almost in stark contrast to the unperturbed Tiber, which flows calmly on, indifferent to our amazement.

Another place, another body of water, this time a lake. We're in Bracciano, less than 60 km from the capital. Lake Bracciano is one of the largest lakes in Italy, and the thick vegetation that surrounds it makes it one of the most beautiful. The many tourists who visit here are drawn by the timeless charm of the famous and perfectly preserved Odescalchi Castle, dating back to 1470, which houses sculptures, antique furniture, archaeological remains and magnificent frescoes.

For Romans, the seaside is synonymous with Ladispoli, a delightful little town not far from Rome, which since the time of Julius Caesar and Pompey has been a favourite seaside resort. According to Cicero, magnificent villas were built here, right by the sea. Today the sea at Ladispoli not only continues to satisfy bathers, but also anyone who wants to enjoy the crystalline expanse of water as they stroll along the wooden bridge. Like the more famous Milvian Bridge, the bridge has become a place where young lovers exchange of promises of eternal love by attaching a padlock as a seal of their relationship.

Our route on the theme of water now takes us to the imperial aqueducts at San Gregorio da Sassola, about forty kilometres from Rome, where there are four majestic but little-known bridges. The most noteworthy is the Ponte delle Mole or Bridge of the Arches, a double arch construction by Emperor Hadrian's engineers, 155 metres long and over 24 metres high, a monumental work that brings home to us the enormous engineering skill of the Roman Empire.

Water was often used by the wealthy and aristocratic to impress friends and family with their sumptuous and luxurious homes. In 1621 Pope Gregory XV bought Villa Torlonia in Frascati, entrusting the architect Maderno with the construction of a water theatre and a nymphaeum (a building consecrated to the nymph of a particular fountain or water source). Today you can admire the play of water as it flows from a large tank located high up, falling into lower tanks in a lovely, sinuous movement until it explodes in a spectacular jet that cascades into the large pool in front of the nymphaeum.
Water and nature form an inseparable unit, which is why, if you want to follow our itinerary, the best way to make the most of it is to stay at one of the agritourism properties in the localities mentioned.

But while we're on the subject of water, it's impossible not to mention the wonderful magic created by a waterfall. The valley connecting Cerveteri to the Bracciano area can be reached by a path that goes as far as Fosso della Mola. Here, framed within a beautiful natural environment, where mosses and lichens form fantastic patterns on the rocks, a spectacular cascade falls in a sheer drop to the valley below, as if to remind us of the force of nature, which more than ever today requires our care and respect.

Did you know that...?
We know that Tiber Island was gradually formed out of the accumulation of debris from the Tiber, but an evocative legend claims it was made from the sacks of grain the plebeians stole from King Tarquin the Proud. According to this tradition, while the plague was spreading in Rome in the 5th century BC, a snake emerged from the Tiber and climbed onto Tiber Island. As a result, the Romans built a temple there dedicated to Aesculapius, where they nursed the sick using the river water. This legend is the source of the pharmacists' symbol of the snake, still in use today.

Michela Bilotta

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