The Holy Sepulcher and the Natural Reserve of Rufeno Mountain

In this post I’ll tell you a tour that I made a Saturday with my dad. This time we wanted to see the waterfalls located in the Natural Reserve of Rufeno Mountain. Before to go in this reserve, we went to visit the Church of Holy Sepulcher, at Acquapendente, that is close to the reserve.

We went to this church because, as the name suggests, there is a romanic crypt that contains the shrine of the Holy Sepulcher, that is the oldest surviving copy in Europe of the original one Jerusalem. This is a fundamental point of Via Francigena, the ancient road running from France to Rome (usually it’s considered to have its starting point in the English cathedral city of Canterbury).

The crypt of Holy Sepulcher, was consecrated by Bishop of Orvieto Aldobrandino in 1149. It’s divided into 24 columns and 9 aisles and follows the romanic style.

All the capitals are decorated and alternate themselves with many different figures like birds, human faces, ram’s heads and vegetable compositions. At the edges of the flight of steps, you can see the remnants of medieval frescoes.

At the center of the crypt there is a double stair excavated in the rocks that conducts at the shrine of the Holy Sepulcher. Here there are various precious stones nestled in a marble slab, that according to the traditions, would be wet with the blood of Christ during the Passion. The relics would be brought by Christian knights back from the conquest of Jerusalem. Thanks to the presence in Acquapendente of a monastery entitled to Holy Sepulcher, its strategic position on Via Francigena, the holy relics, Acquapendete is called the Jerusalem of Europe (also in some documents of 993 it can be possible find this association).

The crypt, as you can imagine, it’s pretty dark, since is illuminated by few windows, but the result is a nice play of light and shadow. With a tripod you can solve the problem, otherwise you can benefit of the small lights located on the ground, but remember that the illumination has a cost (about 1 euro for 2-3 minutes, a real robbery).

Once out of the church, we took again the car and went to the natural reserve of Rufeno Mountain to start the search of the Waterfalls. We wanted to see the Waterfall of Subissone, that takes its name from the river that shapes it. Subissone River in fact, crosses the natural reserve of Rufeno Mountain that has a variable flow depending on the rain; if in the latest days it rains the flow is wide, otherwise if it doesn’t rains the flow is small.

The natural reserve of Rufeno Mountain is in the region of Lazio, near Acquapendete and Torre Alfina and covers almost 3000 hectars. The reserve consists in woods and environments with a great natural value and the reserve exists to protect the forest ecosystem. In this reserve there is also the famous Woods of Sasseto, that seems a fairytale forest, for which I’ll come back, to explore it and I’ll tell you.

Once arrived at the reserve, we left the car at the entrance, where, overpassed a barrier, starts a short trail that ends at the flower museum. This is a small natural museum dedicated to the flowers and relations between them and the others living being including humans. This museum exists because in the reserve there are more than one thousand kinds of flowers.

From the museum begin various paths of different levels and intensity, that explore the natural reserve and we took the trail “nature of flower”. This path is created to give the chance to know the natural features of the natural reserve of Rufeno Mountain and the importance of flowers in the earth’s file and the trail consists in 22 stations each of which is an exposition of natural phenomena.

After few stations the path arrives to the mill and to the beautiful Roman Bridge. Despite its name, this bridge doesn’t date back to the Roman times, actually it was built about ‘800. Also called Devil’s Bridge (as other bridges of this type, like that of Borgo a Mozzano), this bridge cross the Subissone River and its cloudy water (due to the clayey sediment). Even if it isn’t a real Roman bridge, it’s still a wonderful work that enriches this woods as you can see in the photo.

At this point we left the trail to get at the waterfall of Subissone, but as we’ll see it won’t easy. Following the indications that we had, we started to go up the Subissone river, but there wasn’t a trail signed and the flow of the river was really small. We walked for a while but what we saw were only artificial waterfalls, nothing to similar at the magnificence of the natural waterfall of Subissone.

When we started to feel the tiredness we decided to come back and fortunately we found a lady at the flowers museum. We asked to her if she knew the Subissone waterfall and how to reach it. She explained us that there was a landslide about two years ago that had fallen down many rocks on the river bed obstructing the trail to the waterfall (due to the rocks we missed the right trail). Today the only way to access at the Subissone waterfall is by a farm from which go down to the waterfall. Not yet defeated, we returned back to the Roman bridge to try to get to the right trail and thanks to the indications of the lady we took the path that once brought to the waterfall of Subissone.

We tried to climb the rocks that we found on the trail, but at a certain point we have to stopped us and give up. Obviously we’ll try again, and the next time we’ll go to the farm to arrive straightaway at the Subissone waterfall.

Good light to everyone

Carlo

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