[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail: Bill Thayer




A Gazetteer of the Latium

[image ALT: A region of central Italy: 17,200 square kilometers. 1981 population: 5,050,000. Capital: Rome.]

[image ALT: zzz]
Horace's Mt. Soracte in Northern Lazio, seen from the Via Flaminia.

The Latium, or to give it its modern Italian name, the Lazio, is a small part of Italy disproportionately famous because it's the area around Rome: the first few centuries of Roman history, for example, were in fact the local goings-on of about 10,000 farmers and tribesmen.

When Rome became powerful, then rich, it sapped much of the surrounding countryside to itself, as capitals will, especially that the Lazio is not favored by particularly good weather or geography, to the south much of it being swamp and to the north volcanic desert. Compared to the rest of Italy the modern region is still very sparsely populated, but it covers somewhat more territory than ancient Latium, so that its four outlying provinces — Viterbo, Rieti, Latina and Frosinone — have a certain vitality, and are full of interesting ancient and medieval remains, which is what I like on this website.

[image ALT: The Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum.]

[ 2/12/02: 521 pages, 354 photos,
168 drawings, 21 plans, 10 maps, 325 links ]

Predictably, Rome will hog the spotlight, but this page is not the place for her: see the city's own detailed index page.

[image ALT: A view of the Forum of Ostia Antica.]

[ 4 pages, 6 photos ]

The ancient port of Rome, Ostia Antica, is often neglected by visitors to the Eternal City, despite being just 45 minutes away by cheap and frequent commuter train. This is a big mistake: it's almost as well-preserved as Pompeii, and a beautiful place; yet without so much as one-tenth the crowds tramping around.

[image ALT: A view of S. Francesco and the Velino River, in Rieti (Lazio, central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 1 photo, 6 links ]

The provincial capital of Rieti is an austere grey-walled town surrounded by mountains. It has a number of interesting medieval churches, and a Roman bridge — underwater.

[image ALT: The upper part of a stone belfry pierced with two arches. It is a scene typical of Antrodoco (Lazio, central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 3 photos, 7 links ]

Not much more than a village, Antrodoco is a handsome place with good clean air in the mountain gorges of the Velino river. One very beautiful church, characteristic streets, and yes, one of the medieval gates has an inscription of the emperor Trajan.

[image ALT: A view of the courtyard of the Palazzo Comunale of Viterbo (Lazio, central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 1 photo, 8 links ]

Viterbo is an elegant, rich and lively small city, the most urban environment in the Lazio outside of Rome itself. It has always served as a retreat away from the capital: now filmmakers and writers, in the Middle Ages the Popes; not surprisingly then, it's one of the most consistently medieval towns in Italy.

[image ALT: zzz Bomarzo (Lazio, central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 4 photos, 5 links ]

Bomarzo, famous thruout Italy for a very odd 16c park inhabited principally by monsters. An extraordinary place.

[image ALT: A 12th‑century stone lion. It guards the main door of the cathedral of Civita Castellana (Lazio, central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 4 photos, 10 links ]

Civita Castellana, the city of Falerii, centuries older than Rome, that Camillus destroyed in the 4c B.C., now poses no threat, and is in an area very rich in Roman and pre-Roman remains, as you might expect. The star of the town is definitely the cathedral.

[image ALT: zzz Orte (Lazio, central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 2 photos, 6 links ]

Everyone who travels around central Italy knows Orte: that's the big railroad station where you stop and wait a bit, or maybe change trains if you have to. In fact, there's a town attached to that station, positively decaying in its hoary antiquity. Not to everyone's taste, but of interest.

[image ALT: zzz.]

[ 6/5/02: 5 pages, 11 photos, 48 links ]

Now I've never really been anywhere in the province of Latina, except for a day at the beach; but an Australian pal who takes wonderful pictures has spent a lot of time there: Carole Roach's Italy is slowly coming online, covering a string of beautiful towns along the Mediterranean coast. Her photos, my text (there's where the "slow" is!): Gaeta, Formia, Terracina, Sperlonga, Minturno.


[image ALT: a small cross]

[image ALT: zzz]

For those who like churches and prefer a topical approach, I'm continuing to develop my Churches of the Lazio site: in Mar 02, it covered 118 churches in 48 pages, 165 large photos, and 302 offsite links; about 85% of them in the city of Rome.


[image ALT: an eye from an Etruscan tomb]

[image ALT: A stylized representation of a metal hand-mirror, taken from the binding of a book. It is an Etruscan mirror motif representing that book, George Dennis's 'Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria'.]

[ 7/6/02: under construction
90% of the book: Preface, Introduction, 54 chapters, 102 woodcuts, 5 maps, 2 plans ]

George Dennis's celebrated work, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria (1848), though only half of it is given over to the Latium, is a very good book and even today remains one of the best possible general resources for Etruscan monuments in the area; but it's also a fascinating glimpse into the beginnings of modern archaeology — and very useful to anyone with an interest in the entire countryside of the Northern Lazio, as for example if you're planning to cover it on foot, horseback or bicycle.

There are many parts of the Lazio I have not seen; but in addition to this sampler of structured pages, which I hope will be joined soon by a subsite on the Via Flaminia in the Lazio, you may also find it useful for now to look at the Sept. 13, 2000 entry of my diary, which is a rather long photoillustrated account of a hike up that Roman road from Prima Porta thru Malborghetto to Civita Castellana; and at the Oct. 20, 1997 entry for Nemi and its famous lake and museum, with photos, of course.

Finally, a rather large number of other places in Lazio are briefly mentioned in different parts of my site, with further links offsite: to find them, use the search engine in the navigation bar below.

Site updated: 19 Jun 04