Artena is a town 40 km from Rome perched on edge of a high limestone ridge, and is one of the most photographed towns in Italy.
It has with some unique features like the longest pedestrian street in Europe. In fact, the historical center can be visited only on foot (your own or on those of mules) and even today these mules, not always sweet and gentle, are carrying the goods for the people.
Artena is still known locally as “the city of bandits“, referring to a to a definition by Pope Paul IV that effectively excommunicated the inhabitants of Artena (previously called Montefortino), condemning them as bandits and razed many of the buildings, spreading salt on the ruins.
After the transition of ownership to the Borghese family, Artena was reborn in new splendor climbing the mountain. And today it is one of the few centers still inaccessible to cars and it is surprising that its name has been used in the past as a name for a car model.
Between 1931 and 1942, Lancia created a model of their elegant and powerful sedan that just called Artena! The sedan had some success and 5,567 cars were produced (according to Wikipedia) and it made history for its durability being the first that surpassed the 100,000 Km without maintenance.
But the real charm of can be enjoyed during the Christmas period when the entire country is transformed into a “crib town”. The entire side of the nearby mountain is covered in lights symbolizing a tree. This is visible throughout the Valle del Sacco for miles and to all those who travel the motorway between Rome and Naples.
Along the medieval streets of the old town is a Christmas market with exhibition of typical Christmas handicrafts and there are 54 wineries where you can taste the typical products to rediscover this land.
To get even more into the heart of the traditions of Artena, you can walk the streets of the village on the back of a mule and personally experience the history and the past, view the churches and admire the magnificent Palazzo Borghese from an unusual perspective.