Ronciglione: the village built on the tuff block

Near Viterbo there is Lake Vico, a volcanic lake (which has the distinction of altitude among the great Italian lakes with its 507 meters above sea level) which is part of a nature reserve with a rich variety of flora and fauna. The lake is surrounded by the Cimini Mountains and towns that have sprung up on the banks of the lake. One of these is Ronciglione.


Ronciglione is a small town in the province of Viterbo and is located on a big tuff brow. The growth of the village is due to the Farnese that enabled the Renaissance and modern development of the city. In 1526 in fact, the Farnese came to command Ronciglione making living at the village heyday. At Ronciglione, as in many small Italian towns, traditions and folklore are still strong. Well known in the area is the Carnival of Ronciglione, a series of Palios held throughout the year and the Feast of St. Mary of Providence.


The tour of Ronciglione begins from “Porta Romana”. This building, which dates back to 1618, divides the historic center of the town from the south, where is the road to Rome.


Passing through the Porta Romana you can see the historic center of Ronciglione and you immediately notice the special shape of the village and the block on which it was developed. Do not follow the main road, but turn right into the alley that ends on a bridge, and once crossed it you’ll end up among the small alleys of the historic center.


Certainly you will not miss the bell tower that stands out among the low houses of Ronciglione; well that is the bell tower of the Church of St. Mary of Providence. This is the first parish church of the village, which had to face the danger of the disintegration of the cliff on which it is based.


Coasting the ditch surrounding Ronciglione, you come to the most fascinating building of the village, “La Rocca” (also known as “The Torrioni”). Built in the Middle Ages, it was built to defend the only natural access leading to the town, and that was the only weak point of the defense system of Ronciglione. Before it was owned by the Prefects of Vico, then of the Counts of Anguillara and Della Rovere (who added the keep and the four circular towers from which derived the popular name “The Torrioni”), then to the Farnese family and finally to the Genoese Jerome Marè (which dismantled the marble structures and reduced it to pastume factory).


Near the fortress you will see the main square of Ronciglione, Piazza Principe di Napoli, which is overlooked by the Cathedral and the Town Hall. The great and majestic cathedral, dedicated to Saints Peter and Catherine, was built in 1671 by Baroque architect Carlo Rainaldi. The facade has the Ionic style at the bottom and composite style on the upper side. There is also a beautiful dome, which unfortunately remains partially hidden behind the facade.


The interior has three naves, with the central nave separated from the other two by four pillars, crowned at the top by an elaborate stone dome.


The Town Hall, completed in 1552, was the seat of the City Council. On the faced there are the coat of arms of the city, that of the Duke Ranuccio I and that of Cardinal Odoado Farnese. Lower there was placed a plaque commemorating the visit of the Prince of Naples (Vittorio Emanuele III) in 1890 which made very happy the Ronciglione people (for this reason the Square is named Piazza Principe di Napoli). At the center of the square there is also the “Big Fountain” (also called “Fountain of the Sea Horses”) built with stones of Lake Vico by the architect Vignola.


Continuing my tour in Ronciglione, I came across a small cat, who was blissfully sitting on a wooden bench in an alley of the village. It was quiet and natural, as if this was his place, where it daily went to occupy to relax.


So, after saying goodbye to the little cat, I went to the Church of St. Andrew, the last point of my tour. Walking in the street of Borgo di Sopra you will see tick the bell tower of the Church of St. Andrew which was the former Collegiate Church of Saints Peter and Catherine until the early eighteenth century, when the collegiate church and the parish were transferred to the Cathedral. The church was abandoned in the nineteenth century, when due to inadequate political decisions, were not made the necessary restoration work.


Today are visible only the external structure of the Church, some fragments of columns and marble capitals and the bell tower. The latter recalls Romanesque models and consists of four floors with single-light windows, mullioned windows and a floor octagonal. On the facade they are set marble inscription documents of the year of construction of the bell tower and the coat of arms of Anguillara.


This was Ronciglione, but close to Viterbo there are also other interesting towns, which I intend to propose in future articles.

Good light to everyone.



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