Colli sul Velino
Located between the Holy Valley and Lake Piediluco, Colli sul Velino is a small town amidst lush green vegetation. Called 'Colli di Labro' (Labro Hills) until 1962, since it belonged to the hamlet for centuries, the rich-in-truffles area on which Colli sul Velino stands used to be dominated by Quintus Axius' 'villa rustica', as he chose this very place to enjoy some peace outside of Rome.
Hills by the lake
Starting from the 3rd century BC, after being conquered by the Romans and reclaimed from the Lacus Velinus, the land on which Colli sul Velino was later erected was dedicated to agricultural use, and several villas and farms were built. Roman senator Quintus Axius’ ‘villa rustica’ was regarded as particularly magnificent, and both Cicero and Varro described its beauty at length comparing it with others in the area.
What is now left of the property can be seen in the Grotte di San Nicola suburb, where you can find a solid stone structure and the old reservoir, still in use today: the villa used to employ waters from the neighbouring St. Susanna Springs.
In the municipality of Colli sul Velino there are also ruins of other old buildings, evidence of its long history. Among them, the Morro Vecchio Tower is worth a mention, as it used to be an outpost of Labro’s lords. As for the town's churches, instead, there are two dedicated to Colli sul Velino’s patron saint, Mary Magdalene: the first one, rural and Romanesque, dates back to the 13th century and overlooks the Holy Valley; the other, built in 1818 in the town centre, was decorated by contemporary painter Franco Bellardi with a wonderful “Last Judgment”.
If you continue along the short walk between the two churches towards Monterotondo, you reach a beautiful wash house fountain from the 18th century and a magnificent collection of wall paintings by Franco Bellardi and the students of his art school.
Moreover, Colli sul Velino still preserves today the same lush landscape that attracted Quintus Axius so many years ago. Centuries-old oak trees, woods of poplars and willow trees, creeks full of eels and trouts characterise the entire area, and those who love fishing and excursions will love the Velino River and Lake Ventina, nestled in the mountains and born out of the old Lake Velino mentioned earlier. In this area, particularly appreciated during the hot summer months, hunting is forbidden in order to preserve its birdlife.
Finally, to enjoy the town's atmosphere at its best you cannot miss the 'Palio della Padella' (Pan Joust) in August, characterised by a parade in 19th-century costumes and several competitions among the village's quarters. The Palio is joined by the Wild Boar Festival, where you can eat pappardelle with wild boar sauce, gnocchi, grilled meat, wine biscuits and other delicious recipes of the Sabine territory.
Pro Loco di Labro:
+39 0746 63 61 34
Things not to miss
How to get here
From Rieti: Take the SS79 and follow the directions to Colli sul Velino.
From Terni: Take the SS79bis and then follow the directions to Colli sul Velino.
From Rome: Follow the directions to E35/A1/Firenze (Florence). Once on the A1 highway (there is little toll to pay), take the Firenze/E45/Fiano Romano/Rieti exit. Take the SS4 Salaria to Rieti.
By public transport:
The closest airports are the two serving Rome (Fiumicino and Ciampino).
From FCO: train to Fara Sabina + Cotral bus to Rieti.
From CIA: bus to Termini train station (Rome).
From Termini: take the B underground line to Tiburtina train station (towards Rebibbia).
From Tiburtina: train to Fara Sabina + Cotral bus to Rieti, or direct Cotral bus to Rieti from the bus station just outside Tiburtina.
In Rieti, take the Cotral bus to Colli sul Velino.
Colli sul Velino's Pro Loco (Info Point):
+39 334 6296033 - 338 2661649 - 340 2614125
Via Principe di Piemonte, 28
Colli sul Velino