The ancient city of Rieti dates back to many millennia prior to the Romans. The ancient capital of Sabina, it has long been a center of civilization for different tribes and peoples. Rieti is in the region of Lazio, northeast of Rome, near the border with Abruzzo and Le Marche. It is on the "St. Francis Trail", where the beloved saint from Assisi passed through and ministered. The area is a contrast to Rome, with lots of sleepy villages, country castles, quiet old monasteries and natural splendor.
There are archeological sites scattered all over the province, and the peak of Mt. Terminillo beckons outdoorsy types for summer as well as winter sports. The Riserva Naturale dei Laghi Reatini is a lakeside nature preserve that protects rare bird and flora species. The city of Rieti itself is sprinkled with palaces and historic buildings yet retains a laid-back atmosphere, like its surrounding landscapes.
The Piazza Vittorio Emanuele is the hub of Rieti, with shops and cafes, and a delightful fountain, the Fontana dei Delfini (dophins) in the center. The Palazzo Comunale is here, a 13th century building that also houses the Civic Museum, with a collection of artifacts from the 9th century BC through the Roman era, along with paintings from the 14th century through the present. The Duomo was consecrated in 1225 and contains sculptures, frescoes and other decorations worth seeing.
The Palazzo Vecchiarelli was designed by Carlo Maderno; the Renaissance palace was built on the turning point of the art world and bears touches of the Baroque, a boding of things to come. The elegant, almost delicate, Palazzo Vicentini was designed by Sangallo. The Bishop's Palace is an opulent building, more intriguing and impressive is the attached monumental loggia with its massive vaulted ceiling. An interesting modern monument is the Monumento della Lira, in homage to Italy's former monetary unit. The monument is constructed with more than 2 million 200-lira coins fused together.
Rieti is known for its hill cuisine, with hearty stews and meat dishes complimenting the handmade pasta dishes. Potatoes, mushrooms, truffles, and wild berries grow in the area and figure into the regional cuisine, as does the homemade Pecorino cheese and sausages. The nearby town of Amatrice is a nationally known food town, called the Citta degli Spaghetti for the famed pasta dish that originated here, Spaghetti all'Amatriciana. The area has its own DOC wines, too - Colli della Sabina, in white and red varieties.
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