There are at least two valid reasons to go to Camerata Nuova: the first is if you are a director who wants to shoot a western movie and the other if you love walking amidst imposing nature and the mystery of history.
Camerata Nuova is the last town in Lazio, it is practically totally surrounded by towns in Abruzzo, but the atmosphere is so Roman that it seems to be in Trastevere.
I went to Camerata for the Town Ambassador project that we are doing with the councilor Alessia Pieretti of the Metropolitan Area of Rome and I expected to immerse myself in the language and traditions of Abruzzo, but I changed my mind.
I leave the motorway at Carsoli, enter Marsica for a moment and then return to Lazio in the upper Aniene Valley to arrive in the square at Camerata Nuova. Mayor Settimio Liberati welcomes me and first of all he shows me the ruins of Camerata Vecchia which can be seen in the distance on a coast of Monte Camposecco.
Everything that is a sign of the past attracts me, after all the fortune of Civita di Bagnoregio was a documentary that told of the dying city and invited us to hurry up and go and see it. What mystery does Camerata hide?
The history of the two Cameratas is somewhat singular, the original town was located in an inaccessible mountain area and was born around a castle on the highest point of the plateau, the new one is located on a plateau. The two Cameratas are separated by almost 400 meters in altitude.
Camerata Vecchia was destroyed by a fire in the winter of 1859 and there are two versions of what happened, the first is that of an accident and the second (conspiratorial) of conflicts between the Papal State and the Kingdom of the two Sicilies at dawn of the nascent Italian state.
The second certainly inspires me more mystery and intrigues me to the point that I would like to go back to Camerata Vecchia with a group of friends and passionate walkers to discover the truth.
This fascination linked to mystery has not only bewitched me as I am reading several stories of travelers who have been attracted to it. Just move into the English language and you are enraptured by their stories. I found a tourism site that puts Camerata Vecchia together with Peru, Thailand, etc… Strange that many Italians haven't noticed!
“The only true story of Camerata was reported by the Swiss artist August Weckesser in his painting The Fire in the Sabine Mountains which is now in the Museum zu Allerheiligen in Schaffhausen”, the mayor tells us while the copy which is in the municipality it is the background for our photographs.
From Camerata Vecchia, a path leads to the Camposecco plateau, inside the Monti Simbruini Park, where a landscape between the bucolic and the wild captivates with its beauty. Walking for another 16 km you can also reach the Sanctuary of the Santissima in Vallepietra and complete the journey into the magic of nature and history.
And this magic hasn't just kidnapped us. In the 70s some of the most important Italian and international players came to Camerata Nuova.
“Vincenzone of the village bar has collected on a wall of his restaurant all the posters of the Spaghetti Westerns that have been shot in Camerata Nuova, starting from Django with Franco Nero, to 'They called him Trinity' with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill up to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brigitte Nielson who shot Red Sonja and Lou Ferrigno with his Hercules”, the mayor tells me.
So, we go for an aperitif at Vincenzone's (who is truly a great Vincenzo but his name derives from his passion for billiards) and his bar is the main meeting point of Camerata Nuova. Everyone stops by him.
More than 50 films have been shot on the Camposecco plateau and all the actors, directors and crew frequented Vincenzone's bar who is truly a communicative person.
Lidia, the chef at the Riofreddo restaurant who had come second in a joke competition on television, had also indicated it to me. “It's me who tells Lidia the jokes, and every time she has a particular client she calls me to find out new ones”, Vincenzone whispers in my ear who then tells us a couple of jokes.
A long aperitif to look for the Town Ambassador of Camerata Nuova (and I would say of Camerata Vecchia too) and one at a time it seems that all the citizens approach the aperitif table to give their contribution: some to show his photographs and some to talk about his relatives in the USA.
I would therefore say that the two Cameratas are truly the frontier of the west, the Far West of Lazio!