Rome Travel Guide

Rome Architecture, History, Art, Museums, Galleries, Fashion, Music, Photos, Walking and Hiking Itineraries, Neighborhoods, News and Social Commentary, Politics, Things to Do in Rome and Environs. Over 900 posts

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Castel San Pietro: of War Monuments and Movie Sites

In thinking about places we miss - and that are often missed period - my mind landed on Castel San Pietro, a small town above Palestrina. I planned to write that Palestrina (dating back farther than the 8th century BC) is one of the more important cities within 25 miles of Rome, but Wikipedia gives it short shrift. 

It gives even shorter shrift to Castel San Pietro, calling it "now occupied by a few poor houses and a ruined medieval castle of the Colonna family."  Whoa! Don't think the locals would like that description.  In fact, they worked hard to make Castel San Pietro a much-used movie site, especially in the 1950s, because of its picturesque setting. One can see Rome from its heights. Gina Lollobrigida starred in the 1953 "Bread, Love and Dreams" (Pane, Amore e Fantasia), filmed in the town. There are a dozen or so placards around  explaining the film sites in both Italian and English, though we've never seen a tourist of any nationality - or anyone speaking English.

We've always liked hiking up - and it's waaay up - to the "Rocca" or castle ruins (see photo at top) that form part of this small town above Palestrina. It's sort of (if you count going up and over the hill town when you don't have to) on our way to a hike we like that takes one down to ancient aqueducts - and Horace's tree - if we could ever find the latter.

What we found the last time we were wandering the town, looking for a coffee bar, were two war monuments, neither of which we'd seen in our previous walking around.

One monument was to the Italian combatants and Holocaust victims from the area who died in World War II, with this statue combining the two types of "caduti" - "fallen." Photo left.

The other monument, photo below, is accompanied by an inscription that reads, "In this place, on 6 July 1944, three young boys, playing with a war ordinance left over from the war, were made innocent victims. This monument is a testament to that incident, and stands against every war, past and present, against the shame of landmines and in honor of civilian victims. 8 December 2004." The Germans had left the area by early June, 1944

The two monuments together are a chilling testament to the horrors of war. And they make our casual escapade through the town, and down into the aqueducts, an after-thought. 

More later on the hike, which we do almost every year when we're in Rome, and Palestrina, home to the great 16th-century composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, whose statue stands in a central town square, and to the fictional site where the pact with the devil was made in Thomas Mann's "Doctor Faustus." Mann spent some time in Palestrina in the late 1890s.


No comments: