Contigliano is a picturesque hamlet perched on a hill, full of steps and alleys decorated by flowers among little stone houses and pretty squares that look like terraces. The majestic St. Michael’s collegiate church towers over the village and the valley below, a triumph of Baroque art worthy of the village that dared defy Cesare Borgia’s right arm.
Fighting against condottiero Vitellozzo Vitelli
The first thing the visitor sees when looking up the hill over the Canera Valley on which Contigliano is perched is certainly the impressive collegiate church dedicated to Archangel Michael, symbol of a village that dominated the area for years from its strategic position.
This wonderful medieval hamlet was named after Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, a famous Roman rhetorician from the Ist century AD and friend of emperor Vespasian’s, who owned a villa here. Over time, a small settlement of shepherds and farmers developed around the property, to which a castle was added before 1157.
Originally under Rieti’s control due to its strategic location, in 1436 Contigliano passed to the Sforza family - the same who built the castle in Milan - but was soon back in Rieti’s hands. After being invaded and plundered in 1501 by an army of mercenaries led by Vitellozzo Vitelli, Cesare Borgia’s fiercest condottiero, the 90 inhabitants left alive bravely managed to rebuilt the village, which later knew great economic and population growth.
The historical reenactment of the events that took place on 7th August 1501 is carried on every year during the Palio of the ‘Assalto al Castello’ (Attack on the Castle), where teams from Contigliano’s suburbs face off in a competition with a battering ram, with which the winning team symbolically breaks down the Saints Gate (‘Porta de’ Santi’). In the evening you can stroll among the artisan shops and taverns, where you can try local food and recipes like the ‘pizzicotti’, small gnocchi of bread dough with spicy sauce.
Contigliano still preserves part of its original medieval structure, and it is accessible from either Saints Gate, next to the crypt of the collegiate church with its tympanum portal in local pink stone, or Coward Gate (‘Porta Codarda’), from which you can enjoy a great view of Rieti’s Plain and Mount Terminillo.
Walking through the hamlet’s alleys you will perceive its charming atmosphere, as well as in Vittorio Emanuele II Square, where you can see 17th and 18th century buildings and the façade of St. Michael’s huge church. The interior of the church, whose original unit dates back to 1563, is lavishly decorated with baroque stuccos and hosts a beautiful ebony and ivory pipe organ.
Near Contigliano you can also visit the fascinating roofless churches of St. John and St. Lawrence, the proud San Pastore Abbey and the old St. Tomeo Hermitage, where St. Thomas appeared to a hermit.
Pro Loco di Labro:
+39 0746 63 61 34
Things not to miss
How to get here
From Rieti: Take the Tancia Provincial Road and follow the directions to Contigliano.
From Terni: Take the SS79bis and follow the directions to Contigliano.
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 Contigliano.
Contigliano's Pro Loco (Info Point):
+39 392 1884799 / 347 5974769
Piazza degli Eroi, 5