Medieval Magic


1. Sorano : has many medieval treasures. As the capital of the Orsini Count fiefdom, Sorano boasts an incredible patrimony of medieval monuments.

But none are as impressive as the Fortezza Orsini.

Designed by a Sienese architect in 1552, the fortress was expanded in the following centuries as the Orsini felt the Medici breathing down their neck.

The renovations were so extreme they bankrupted the family and the Medici bought what was left. The fortress is a veritable iceberg.

Only a small amount is visible above ground.

The rest can only be explored on a guided tour.

In another Orsini palazzo, you can admire the family’s private fresco-covered bedroom.

2. Montemerano : Officially declared one of Italy’s most beautiful small towns by Legambiente and the Italian Touring Club, Montemerano is the hottest new destination.

Tourists and the nternational media are losing their knickers for Montemerano.

The locals can’t really see what all the fuss is about, but from a medieval standpoint, Montemerano has plenty to boast about.

You could lose a day in the Chiesa di San Giorgio. Its roots are medieval, but its frescos arrived later betweeb the 15th to the 18th centuries.

Keep an eye out for the depiction of men and women entering Heaven.

This is one of the few featuring all nude figures.

The church’s most famous piece is the Madonna della Gattaiola, a sombre, but moving depiction of the Madonna and Child.

3. Tuscania : Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, Tuscania was overwhelmed, like the rest of Italy, by various barbarian invasions.

In 781, the city became part of the patrimony of the Church and my, did the Popes treat it well.

Tuscania has eight medieval churches, as well as breathtaking palazzos and castles. The wall that still surrounds Tuscania is medieval and is the perfect welcome to a town that seems to have been lost in time.

Of all the medieval sights, the two Romanesque churches aren’t to be missed.

4. Civita di Bagnoregio : The “Città che Muore” or Dying City is an unforgettable sight.

It’s located in the Calanchi Valley in Lazio, perched high on a minuscule cliff that is very slowly crumbling.

Eventually Civita di Bagnoregio will disappear into the valley below.

Today the town can only be reached by a very long and very narrow stone bridge, but the hike is worth it to see the amazing medieval houses and churches that have been preserved by the few residents who can stand the isolation.

All of Civita di Bagnoregio is worth admiring, so be sure to set aside plenty of time to check it out.

5. Orvieto : After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Orvieto was ruled by the Goths until 553 when, after a bloody battle and a siege, it was conquered by the Byzantines.

The Byzantines had a hand in turning this city into the magnificent centre it is today by expanding its urban fabric with fortifications, palaces, towers and churches.

While it is technically referred to as Gothic and not medieval, Orvieto’s Duomo was built between the 13th and 16th century.

It’s considered to be the most beautiful example of Gothic architecture in Italy, eclipsing, in some people’s consideration, the Duomo in Siena.

The facade is accented by four Bronze statues representing the four Evangelists.