That Magliano Sabina boasts the title of city, is thanks to Pope Alexander VI Borgia and that the “Maglianese” is a wild plum tree of the homonymous agricultural area, as can be read in the UTET’s “Great Dictionary of the Italian Language”, perhaps is not known to all.
And everything seems surrounded by oddities.
The same location in the Maglian territory lies on the geographical map in an anomalous position with respect to the province of Rieti: between Upper Lazio and southern Umbria.
It is at a crossroads of several provinces (Terni, Viterbo, Rieti and Rome) and it is a hilly area of altitude varying between 200-250 meters above sea level, that descends towards the middle Tiber Valley, where intense traffic travels on the Autostrada del Sole A1 and on the Flaminia a considerable amount of tourists.
From there you can climb the hill and discover the pleasantly perched town, which produces a feeling of quiet, peaceful landing, comforted by a wide panorama that sweeps from Monte Soratte, through the Cimini and Sabatini Mountains, to the “gorge ”of Orte.
From above, the meandering of the Tiber is even more marked, perhaps looking for that ancient bed that Sixtus V wanted to change so that the river would send its waters under the four arches of the Ponte Felice, dry in the dry area towards the little village of Civita Castellana.
The 4 churches of Magliano Sabina
Not everyone knows that the four churches of Magliano Sabina each hide rather unusual oddities.
The church of San Peter, a jewel of 12th century Romanesque architecture of the Lombardeggiante school, is supported by ten columns, all different in workmanship and style.
The crypt of the Madonna delle Grazie is a delicate architectural monument that is worth visiting. On a fresco there is an engraved autograph of Alfonso of Aragon, king of Naples, who passed through Magliano Sabina in 1447.
The church of Saint Michael had two Roman Flavian altars at its entrance, which served as stoups.
The San Liberatore Cathedral of the Sabine was equipped with a 17th century canopy (today at the Bishopric in Poggio Mirteto), and the remains of a series of “chinoiseries”, all from the same period, kept in the rectory.
The Centre of Magliano Sabina
Entering Magliano Sabina you will reach a wide avenue, Via Roma, which is also adorned with elegant shops and the Umbrian-style Palazzo Solimani-Mariotti. The avenue welcomes the visitor and leads him to Piazza Garibaldi where, on the left, Palazzo Vannicelli (seat of the town hall) stands out for its sixteenth-century architectural lines (the design is attributed to Vignola).
The Palazzo del Seminario Vescovile, one of the first established in Italy after the Council of Trent, dominates the square due to its monumental form. It participates on the right hand side in closing of the square facing west.
In the centre stands a decent fountain that recalls the commemoration of the anniversary of the 150th year of the Unification of Italy.
From here the streets leading to the historic centre branch off. In the San Giovenale district, at the highest point of the “city”, the Palazzo Orsolini-Cencelli dominates the sequence of alleys and arches of clear medieval origin.
It is in these surroundings that the very ancient church of San Giovenale once stood (testament now cancelled), around which the expansion of what is now the urban centre began thanks to the work of the Lombards, and then of the monks of the Abbey of Farfa. of Magliano Sabina.
The river port and the dispute between San Liberato and San Liberatore
The development of the “city”, already in progress immediately after the year 1000, found its economic support in the important river port on the Tiber, the greatest source of wealth being derived from port tolls. From this the urban mesh widened up to include the monumental church of San Pietro (of the XII century), and then the Cathedral of the Sabine San Liberatore.
This cathedral was raised to the honours of the chronicle of that time, when it became the seat of the Suburbicarian Diocese of Sabina (XV century).
But even in this episode we find something curious.
Aside from the “armed” disputes and struggles with the Ancient Cathedral of Vescovio, which had been overruled by the privilege by Alexander VI Borgia, the curious thing is that it was never well understood if this church was dedicated to San Liberato or San Liberator, who by the way is the patron of the “city”.
The dispute, between who was to be the assignee of the church, whether San Liberato or San Liberatore, lasted for 150 years until the Ecclesiastical Court decided to assign the ‘prize’ to San Liberatore.
However, even today, the Maglianesi “know” that the protector has remained as San Liberato!
Porta Santa Croce is located behind the church of San Liberatore, integrated into the structure of the old hospital (the new hospital, now Casa della Salute, is located about a kilometer and a half from the centre on Provincial Sabina).
It is pleasant from this point of view to find oneself in the middle of a medieval structure and to observe an lively though vast panorama, where the highway traffic, which passes at the foot of the hill, contrasts with the quiet and verdant Giglio forest, just on the left.
The discoveries and surprises of country walks
And on the landscape level, the discoveries and surprises start right from Porta Santa Croce (Holy Cross Gate). Just take the ring road in an anticlockwise direction and you will find immediately appearing in the distance, perched on the tops of the hills, ancient towns and villages of Sabina, among the olive groves and on the vineyards (link article wines).
Continuing we arrive at the Porta, and then the landscape crosses the border and Monte San Pancrazio already announces that Umbria is very close.
In fact, on the north-western side of Otricoli, the ruins of the ancient Roman municipium meet on the Flaminia just past the Maglianese border, confirming that it is now in a different Region.
If this were not enough, moving to the west, the panoramic view changes completely: from Orte to Civita Castellana, the red volcanic land of the Viterbo area welcomes the Municipalities of Gallese, Vasanello, Vignanello, Corchiano (perhaps ancient Fescenium) and so on until it closes on the horizon with the chain of the Cimini Mountains, the Sabatini mountains, and the isolated cone of Monte Soratte. A varied and all-round panorama that is well worth looking at.
A tour around then leads back to Porta Romana, from which we had entered. And here, on the columns of the Porta, we find, depicted on a terracotta shield, Manlio Torquato on horseback, the heroic Roman leader who “history” says is the founder of the “city” and who perpetuates his memory on the banner of the Municipality, flanked by two Molossian dogs, also in terracotta, perhaps guarding many curious oddities.