It is impossible not to notice Sambuci entering the Aniene Valley from the Rome side, the four towers of the fortress still inspire fear but hide the sweetness of the Renaissance villa and the Italian garden.
This double side, austere and jovial, actually hides other mysteries, so much so that today Sambuci is increasingly chosen as a set by Italian and international film productions.
The last movie was The Well, a horror film by Federico Zampaglione with the Italian actress Claudia Gerini and the American Lauren LaVera, famous for having shot the film Terrifier 2. Lauren is a restorer who works on an ancient Italian painting with a curse (and the painting was still in full view when I visited the castle).
They told me that during the production party Lauren happily stirred the polenta in one of the mega copper pots used for the famous Polenta festival and St Celsus feast!
Indeed, there were still some signs of this event when I arrived in Sambuci on a Monday morning to meet the mayor Francesco Napoleoni who immediately took me to the castle. The crew had left it a few days earlier and they were cleaning it all up.
There were still the movie furnishings and even some emotion that could still be breathed, especially looking at the famous horror painting.
A few months earlier there had been another film production, this time international which had chosen to shoot some scenes of the film "The monk who won the apocalypse" inspired by the story of the monk Beniamino del Fiore. Among the actors Francesco Turbanti, Elisabetta Pellini and the American actor Nikolay Moss (who plays the English king Richard the Lionheart).
The tales written by this monk are the ones that inspired Michelangelo Buonarroti in his Sistine Chapel frescoes and is quoted by Dante Alighieri.
So, I found myself in a glamorous environment, yet I had come to Sambuci to look for a Town Ambassador candidate with the project we are doing with Alessia Pieretti and the Metropolitan Area of Rome. Little did I know that I would be at the center of the art world by following in the footsteps of famous actors.
Sambuci has incredible potential, when I arrived and entered the streets of the historic centre, it immediately appeared magical to me. As if there had been the Baroque urban planning that had involved the transformation of the fortress into a beautiful villa with an Italian garden but also the arrival at the village. A hidden hand that still guides those who enter the village.
In fact, Cardinal 'nephew' Astalli, secretary of Pope Pamphili, had taken care of creating a scenographic backdrop in which to insert his villa and had created a new wide access road to the historic center of the village and its gardens.
The Theodoli castle (or villa) is huge, but it has all been restored and is used for many events, the Aniene valley appears in all its beauty and anyone cannot help but be enraptured.
There are other mysteries linked to the history of the castle that once belonged to the Antiochia family, that of the Germans Federico Barbarossa and his nephew Corradino di Svevia. And perhaps it is no coincidence that the new Town Ambassador of Sambuci is Maurizio Proietti who lives right in Germany, and precisely in Berlin. But we will talk about this in a future story.