Populated by just over 2100 inhabitants, from the valley to the peak of the mountain, Fumone is among the most fascinating communes of Ciociaria.
Perched at 783 meters altitude. On an isolated mountain of conic shape, it magically unfolds to the visitor’s sight, who can trace the shape already from a distance, with the historic centre that crowns the summit set between the blue haze of the Ernici and Lepini mountains.
It was a similar view that inspired the writer Curzio Malaparte, in the first half of the twentieth century, who defined it as the Olympus of Ciociaria.
The origins of Fumone blend into legend: it was mistakenly believed that it was the ancient antenna of the Ernici, the fabulous retreat of Tarquinio the Superb in flight from Rome, more likely the term “Antenna” (C. Plinii Secundi Historiae beat book XXXVII, Volume 1) referred to a city other than the current Fumone.
The geographically favorable location was certainly exploited by the Ernici before and by the Romans: between the valley of the Cosa and that of the Sacco, Fumone dominates the surrounding valley dotted with historically important cities.
The same name, Fumone, derives from the military practice used in the Middle Ages for defensive purposes to raise a dense smoke column to signal the imminent arrival of a danger. The signal was repeated and transmitted from the fortresses of the surrounding area to Rome which, in this way, was promptly notified.
From this custom comes also the so-called “cum fumum fumat, tota Campania tremat” (when Fumone smokes, the whole country trembles), where Campania was the ancient name of the inner region of the current lower Lazio region.
Today it is still possible to enter the village through two gates: Porta Romana, which is the remains the main one, and Porta Napoletana, which instead represented a safe exit. Fumone has a double wall built directly on the rock.
The most important building in the historic centre is the Castle mentioned for the first time in a document of the tenth century but probably dating back to a previous period during which it had been able to consolidate its fame.
It is during this period that medieval villages were formed in Italy when people took refuge in fortified hills to escape the invasions of the Barbarians and then the Saracens.
For its strategic position, Fumone remained owned and controlled by Patrimonium Sancti Petri, and as such subjected to a special regime, until the sixteenth century. The castle was a military guard point first, then a pontifical prison, and was finally purchased by the Longhi family, whose descendants still own it.
The Statutes of the Municipality of Fumone date back to 1536, a set of measures regulating city life when around the ancient fortress was a village that was inhabited by peasants and craftsmen.
Today, Fumone represents an extraordinary case of preservation of medieval structures: the original ancient perimeter of habitation, and clearly marked by the sudden change of height, containing, without interruption, the buildings developed for the functioning of the actual fortress.
Following your nose up the narrow alleys of the old town, all arranged in a radial way crossed with the parallel paths corresponding roughly to the two circles of walls, you can find houses in the walls, towers, mullioned windows, remains of a medieval kitchen that has collapsed in via Cavone, a sturdy portico in via Torricelle, plus the traces of polygonal walls in Piazza di Porta Romana and along the Via della Croce.
Fumone therefore offers a good opportunity for anyone wishing to spend a relaxing weekend giving you the opportunity to plan an itinerary to discover the countryside and nearby towns. For those who want to experience traditional Ciociarian kitchen and folk music – a must – seek out the tavern of the Baron not far from the main gate. Of course, this is not the only entertainment and culinary surprise Fumone has to offer.