Monte Cacume belongs to the chain of Monti Lepini and dominates the whole of lower Lazio from its 1,097 meters height.
It is immediately recognized for its particular conical shape and its summit is reached after about 1 hour and forty minutes of walking from Patrica (Patrica guide link).
It is one of the few mountains in the area to have rich springs because the cone is like a large natural reservoir, thanks to the karst soil. Due to its particular microclimate, influenced by both the sea and the Apennine hinterland, the mountain has a great variety of vegetation, including about fifty different species of orchids. The most interesting of these is certainly the Ophrys Lacaitae, a rare spontaneous orchid that blooms in the months of June and July, attracting large numbers of scholars and passionate photographers who climb up the mountain just to be able to portray it.
On the top of Mount Cacume in the Middle Ages there was a strategic settlement of the Counts of Ceccano, called “Castrum Cacuminis”, of which today remain portions of towers and walls. The “Castrum” was quoted by Dante in the Divine Comedy (Purgatory, verses 25-27):
“Vassi in Sanleo e discendesi in Nolli;
montasi su in Bismantova e in Cacume con esso i piè;
ma qui convien che omo voli”.
Dante wanted to make clear the difficulties of the steep uphill path of Monte del Purgatorio that he is travelling with Virgil and draws up a list of places difficult to access. The Mount can be seen and seen well from the Via Latina (or Casilina) that the poet traveled to Naples.
Currently on the top of the mountain are the Church of the Immaculate and the Monument to the Redeemer or Santa Croce. The Monument to the Redeemer is a large iron cross, 14 meters high and weighing over 4 tonnes, which was built in the Terni Steelworks and placed on top of the Mount at the behest of Pope Leo XIII on the occasion of the 1900 Jubilee Year. The installation took place in September 1903, after months of hard work by the inhabitants of Patrica who took care of carrying the Cross, piece by piece, on shoulders or on the back of a mule up to the top of the cone and then assembling it.
The small Church of the Immaculate Conception was consecrated in 1906. It was damaged by war and bad weather and rebuilt in the 1980s.
A photo near the cross is a ‘must’ for all nature lovers and for those who are visiting from one of the villages of Monti Lepini.