Mayor Massimiliano Calore and councilor Kristian Bonelli
Visita a Ciciliano

The fortune of Ciciliano, a little east of Rome

You can recognize Ciciliano from a distance. The towers of the castle still seem to hide lookouts that spy on you. The austere appearance of the Theodoli fortress made the joyful reality even more surprising to me.

Arriving in the village, the first thing I encounter is a beautiful modern building, the new municipal theater, and immediately afterwards I ask for information so as not to risk entering too narrow alleys.

Parking near the municipality and I enter history by starting to walk in the center  of Ciciliano towards the castle.

A few people left the church door open, and I immediately try to take some pictures of the interior and dive into this strange church. Infact, only half the facade can be seen, the other is hidden by the houses in the alley. As I'm about to enter I hear a powerful voice: 'how do I cut the chicken breast?

On the access stairway to the church, I notice the sign of a butcher's shop, a 'heroic' shop and then I enter curiously. Roberto, a smiling 42-year-old boy, welcomes me and behind him I also see a laboratory for making cheese.

We start chatting and Roberto tells me that he fell in love with country life as a child following his uncle and after being a shepherd and dairyman, he opened this butcher shop: 'not many people pass by, but they all stop by my butcher shop to ask for information, I am the only shop in the historic center. So sometimes I take visitors around the town and tell them our story.”

I see a guitar resting on the wall and I ask more questions, so I discover that Roberto is the organist of the cathedral of Tivoli and has started playing alone driven by a great passion.

Butcher, shepherd and organist: it really takes an eclectic mind and human depth.

I swear that if they organize a concert in the church of Beata Maria Vergine Assunta in Ciciliano, I'll come to attend it. I interviewed organ performers at Rocca Massima, during the international organ music festival, but Roberto's story is truly unique, far from any stereotype!

Once again, I find the beauty of these villages in the faces and stories of those who live there.

Roberto and Claudia

The appointment with mayor Massimiliano Calore is in the library, where preparations are underway for a conference with the DMO of Tivoli. We immediately take a picture, but the fight is unequal. I don't know how tall Massimiliano is, but I asked to take pictures sitting otherwise I looked too bad!

Mayor of Ciciliano and Claudia Bettiol

I'm lucky and the mayor manages to get me to open the castle for a visit from Vittorio Calvari. The castle has not undergone many restorations so the first impression is that of authenticity and I can see the kitchens, stopped in time in the seventeenth century. Then we go up to the roof garden where a guard path on the boundary wall allows me to enjoy an amazing view.

The fortress has always been disputed between the abbey of Subiaco and the bishop of Tivoli and still today Ciciliano is located in the middle between two areas with different development prospects.

From our summit, the sun lights up the green rain-soaked fields and the Giovenzano valley appears radiant and immaculate. It does not seem to be less than an hour from the center of Rome.

On the other side of the castle, I can see the upper parts of two large churches placed 20 meters from each other: Saint Mary of the ball and the Beata Maria Vergine Assunta. Vittorio, who is a guide and a true connoisseur of the subject, tells me that the first had been built by the Theodoli family, but had never been accepted by the population who had taxed themselves to build one next door.



Mayor of Ciciliano and  Valerio Calvi and Claudia Bettiol
the Castle of Ciciliano

We go back to the municipality, Massimiliano is busy but I still wanted to meet some other shop owners because it's the people who define a town and Ciciliano is intriguing. People like Kristian, who just that day had sold his bar to concentrate on the other activity of technical services for concerts and events.

Kristian Bonelli is a 32-year-old councilor and we talk for a long time. He tells me how the experience of the municipality has broadened his mind with daily stimuli. He comes from a family of artists: his father had gone from the conservatory to be one of the major Italian leaders of Heavy Metal.

The whole family combines art and entrepreneurship, but they have chosen to live in Ciciliano and to devote themselves to its growth. I sure hope they find the Town Ambassador.

The next day at the conference councilor of Rome Capitol Alessia Pieretti reminded them of it, with whom we are carrying out this experiment on the small towns of the Aniene Valley.

Ad maiora! In the meantime, don't miss the next article on the Ciciliano inn where the tamurriata is played and Neapolitan/Roman (and also Argentinian) fusion cuisine is eaten.

Alessia Pieretti and the mayor of  Ciciliano

Written by:
Claudia Bettiol

Engineeer, futurist, joint founder of Energitismo and founder of Discoverplaces. Consultant for the development and promotion of the Touristic Development of Territories specialising in...

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