Province of Rieti
The environment, landscape, traditions, flora, fauna, local products, the old towns and rural heritage these are all elements that distinguish the Province of Rieti. It has a total population of about 155 000 inhabitants living in 73 municipalities and its territory is characterized by the presence of an untouched nature, green hills, dark patches of woods and forests, majestic snow-capped peaks, rivers and lakes with clear waters: this is the province of Rieti, attractive by nature. Indeed, it retains a particular charm for its oasis of wild beauty that has kept itself intact over the centuries, such as: the Franciscan Sanctuaries full of mystical atmospheres, medieval castles, the villages that narrates ancient cultures and traditions, endless expanses of olive groves, sweet and steep slopes and inaccessible mountains.
The 70% of the provincial territory is mountainous and offers wild and untouched landscapes. The mountains are concentrated in the Central part of the province, which is little known and overlooked by mass tourism. The ski resort of Terminillo and sports facilities, along with cultural and culinary delights of this land, ensure an enjoyable and comfortable stay. On the border with Abruzzo and Marche Regions stands the Monti della Laga (Laga Mountains) which are enclosed in the National Park of Gran Sasso. This mountain chain, with its 14 peaks above 2000 meters, preserves unique natural features. Going north the group of Nuria Mountain is located. In the Cicolano area arise the Navegna and Cervia mountains, a natural reserve that preserves ancient villages, and native flora and fauna. Further to the south rise the mountains of the Duchess (Massiccio della Duchessa), a limestone group that embodies all the majesty of Apennines’ peaks. So the Sabine Mountains, which divide the Rieti valley from the Sabina one, gradually falling down with a series of hills to the fertile plain of the Tiber river. Everything is framed by solitary mountains that conceal a unique and wild environment covered with snow during the winter while colorful and rich with picturesque blooms during the summer. Eleven lakes dots the area. Of great importance are the two artificial lakes: Salto lake and Turano lake, both born in the Fascist period. There are also many protected areas in the province. To the south lies the Natural Regional Park of Monti Lucretili and south-east a small part of the Natural Park Sirente-Velino. Between these two lies the Nature Reserve Monte Navegna and Monte Cervia (between Salto lake and Turano lake). In the Rieti’s plains is located in the Nature Reserve of Lungo and Ripasottile lakes, and on the western side is located a part of the Nature Reserve of Tevere Farfa.
Both a nature and spiritual trail through the primitive and unspoiled beauty of the Rieti Valley, dotted with shrines and places linked to St. Francis, who came here in 1209 and spent nearly two decades. This is the Route of Saint Francis, a picturesque path to do on foot, on horseback or by mountain bike. The path will lead you: to Medieval Rieti with its palaces and churches; to the Shrines of Greccio, La Foresta, Poggio and Bustone Fontecolombo which are nestled in the green woods; to the woods of Faggio di San Francesco a Rivodutri; to the ancient town of Posta which is the pearl of the Velino Valley; and on the Terminillo peaks. It is a path in which nature and spirituality come together. The Route of Saint Francis is 80 km long and is divided into 8 stages, all linked to a memory, a piece of the saint's life. You can start hiking in Rieti, and then reach the complex of Fonte Colombo, a few miles south, where Francis wrote the Rule of the Friars Minor. The complex is hidden by dense vegetation and overlooks the valley at 550 meters above sea level. It is constituted by the convent and a church with a single nave of the mid-13th century. The most surprising, however, is in the forest of oak trees, where are located a dormitory, the chapel of Mary Magdalene with frescoes of the Byzantine school, and the incredible split in the rock, where the Saint withdrew for forty days to prepare the Rule. Another stop is full of suggestions, namely the Sanctuary of the Forest, where Francis composed the Canticle of the Creatures, universal hymn to life and love. The convent features a delicious cloister and includes two medieval churches along with the inevitable cave where the Saint fled the light and sought God within it. An inevitable stage is Poggio Bustone, first site visited by Francis on his arrival at the Rieti basin: a path that cuts through the mountains and leads to the chapel where he had the vision announcing the spreading of the order and the forgiveness of sins. Moreover, Rivodutri is worth a visit: here, to surprise the modern pilgrims, stands a beech trunk incredibly twisted, the result of a genetic mutation; there is also the steep path for Monte Terminillo, where a relic of St. Francis stands on its summit; and finally a trip to nearby Greccio, which looks like a rib of Mount Lacerone in which it is embedded, and embraces the valley. The town of Greccio and its sanctuary have been included among the Unesco World Heritage Sites. The sanctuary contains the touching chapel where in 1223 was staged the first performance of the Nativity, represented even in its beautiful fresco of the gothic school. It is also worth mentioning that the refectory, the thirteenth-century church and the modern one host 120 Christmas cribs.
For further information: http://www.provincia.rieti.it/
Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 June 2011 11:30 )