The Arcinazzo tableaux

This is a rather long itinerary which crosses the heart of the Monti Simbruini, an area which is rich in forests and water, and reaches the majestic panorama of the Piana di Arcinazzo (tableau). The small towns of Arsoli and Cervara di Roma offer surprising small treasures of both modern and antique art.
Arsoli is a picturesque town overlooking the valley of the same name, crossed by the Aniene river towards the east and dominated by the imposing bulk of the castello Massimo. According to legend, it was founded by the inhabitants of the destroyed town of Carsioli and became part of the property of the monastery of Subiaco. It was rebuilt in 776, passed to the Benedictine monks and then to the Passamonti, Zambeccari and Massimo families.
Once you reach the town from the station, take via Umberto I which crosses the lower part of the town: at the end of the road leave your bicycles at the bottom of some steps and continue on foot, in order to reach the imposing castello Massimo. This is a unique monastery-castle built by Benedictine monks in 1000 and modified at the end of the 16th century: it consists of several different buildings and towers and boasts frescoes by Federico Zuccari and Marco Benefial, a small chapel with Cosmati-style decorations and a fine Italian park. Now take your bicycles again and return to piazza Valeria, where you will find an old milepost for Via Valeria, which marked the 38th mile, and the municipal stem with a phoenix. One of the historic houses gives onto the square, with an old column and gothic double lancet windows. To the left, steps lead to the parish church of the SS. Salvatore, planned by Giacomo Della Porta in a late-Renaissance style. Inside there is an unusual Mexican painting created in 1790 depicting the Madonna of Guadalupe and a Transfiguration by Domenichino.
Leave the square behind you and take the fine scenic route which rapidly descends to the bottom of the valley, crosses the fosso del Bagnatore (ditch) and winds its way upwards along the hills which enclose the Arsoli tableau, while offering an excellent view of the Aniene valley at the same time. This way you follow the contours of monte La Prugna and reach, after a steep slope, Cervara di Roma, which is located within the Parco dei Monti Simbruini. The town is dominated by the ruins of a stronghold restructured by Pompeo Colonna, while in the lower part of the town you can admire a truly singular monument: the Scalinata degli Artisti (artists’ steps) created by Vincenzo Bianchi in 1986, and consisting of a series of statues sculpted in the rock along the steps which connect the two squares of the town. Here you will also find the Museo d’Arte per la Pace (Art for Peace museum), which is a theme exhbition of contemporary artists. Further, close to the town’s entrance you can see the interesting Museo degli Ex-Voto (Museum of offerings: for information call 0774.82.87.15) with jewels, embroidery and pieces of local craftsmanship, donated by the nearby sanctuary of the Madonna della Portella.
Upon leaving the town, go down towards the fork in the road for Monte Livata and follow the road to the right for Subiaco, which you will pass in order to follow the road towards Arcinazzo, leaving Jenne and the Benedictine monasteries behind, as well as the Aniene river. Once you reach the fork in the road for Roiate, turn left and follow a road uphill which reaches the top of the valley, where you will see the striking Altipiani di Arcinazzo which offer a magnificent view of the valleys below. Descend on the opposite side of the mountain and turn right towards Piglio, crossing thick beech and oak woods. The panorama which you can now admire is that of the Valle del Sacco and the Selva di Paliano (forest). Cross Piglio, a famous winemaking centre in this area, by passing through a fine door in a building with Romanesque windows and arches, and continue downhill until you reach the strada statale 155 (main road). From here a cycling track, built on the old railway line, allows you easily to reach the station of Colleferrro, the starting point for your return journey.

By train: Outward journey: from Roma Termini take the train to Pescara (get off at Arsoli)
Return: from Cassino take the train for Rome (get on at Colleferro)
By bicycle: Length: about 74 km
Difficulty: medium-difficult

For further information, read:
R. Pugliesi, Lazio. Treni & bici. Il Lazio Meridionale, Padova 2000

Area
Via Tiburtina