Toffia, Abbazia di Farfa, Montopoli di Sabina, Poggio Mirteto
The itinerary that we want to offer you is full of suggestions and wonderful villages, framed by the unique countryside of the medieval Sabina.
Our journey begins from a small town, a perched village overlooking beautiful landscapes, Toffia. From Rome it can be easily reached through the Salaria, up to the Rieti / Casali di Poggio Nativo exit, at Km 49.2, towards Toffia, on Via Farense; in about 8 minutes you arrive at the town.
Toffia is a village of the early Middle Ages whose first news dates back to 940. In 1300 the castle acquired great importance and became the second seat of the bishop of Sabina. In 1400 the walls were enlarged and the Rocca and the Porta Maggiore were built. The Palazzo degli Orsini dates back to the 15th century. The Church of San Lorenzo, from the 10th century, and the parish church from the 16th century, dedicated to S. Maria Nuova, are certainly worth a visit.
From Toffia we continue our tour towards the Farfa Abbey, take Via Farense heading east, signs for Farfa. The origins of the Abbey are mysterious, but the monastery was certainly founded in the 6th century by S. Lorenzo Siro.
Over the centuries, the Benedictine friars continued the work of enriching the building and the village. In the 9th century, due to the raids of the Saracens, the Abbey was devastated, but after their defeat the Abbot Ratfredo rebuilt it. In the following centuries, its reconstruction led it to become the undisputed “queen” of places of worship, expanding its possessions even outside the Sabine area.
The Abbey Church dates back to the mid-15th century, and is preceded by a Romanesque-style courtyard from the 13th century. The interior has three naves and you can admire a valuable Last Judgment, attributed to the Flemish painter Hendrick van der Broek. In the minor altars you can admire well-made seventeenth-century paintings. In addition to the inevitable visit of the church, the village offers interesting points of interest, with the workshops of the artisans, in perfect medieval style.
Continuing towards Granica, along Via Mirtense, you arrive at a crossroads, turn left towards Montopoli di Sabina, take Via Granica sud, direction Granari. After a few km you reach the town of Montopoli.
As traces of human settlements, the territory of Montopoli is among the oldest in the Sabina. In some areas, remains belonging to the Upper Paleolithic have been found.
Surely one of the wonders of the Montopolese territory is the Villa Terenzio Varrone, also known as “I Casoni”, a splendid building dating back to the 2nd century BC.
Access to the town is through the Porta di Via dei Portici, which introduces the ancient village. A visit to the Church of S. Maria degli Angeli is not to be missed, which preserves frescoes by Vincenzo Manenti and baroque decorations. In the Church of S. Maria delle Grazie there is a Madonna enthroned with the child. The parish church, dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, a work of the seventeenth century, with a valuable bell tower is a stop to which you can definitely dedicate some time.
Our itinerary comes to an end, arriving at the last town of the route, Poggio Mirteto, the largest town in the Lower Sabina.
Podium Myrtetum, founded in the first half of the 13th century, was the strategic stronghold of some feudal lords of the area; in fact its position favored the defensive. Initially it was a possession of the Abbey of Farfa, in the 1500s it was part of the Farnese property to finally arrive at the Papal State. In 1867 his band, following Giuseppe Garibaldi, took part in the Agro Romano Campaign.
It is a country rich in history, even during the period of the Second World War. Many inhabitants of Poggio Mirteto in fact actively participated in the resistance to Nazi fascism.
The current town is circumscribed in two parts by the Porta Farnese – inside and outside the walls – an important entrance that introduces the real castle. The heraldic symbol of the family is visible on the door. Inside the ancient walls, dating back to the fourteenth century, you can admire the Abbey Palace and the splendid Clock Tower, as well as the fascinating tangle of small paths that overlook the valley.
Outside the gate, in Piazza Martiri della Libertà, the imposing Cathedral Church, a must visit. In the cathedral with three naves, the Madonna enthroned with the child, a baptism of Christ, a Transit of St. Joseph stand out.
Another church to visit is the Church of San Rocco and the Church of San Paolo.
There are many rustic Roman villas around Poggio Mirteto, important is the Villa called I Bagni di Lucilla.
Our journey is over. Poggio Mirteto closes an important and demanding itinerary, both from an artistic point of view and from the point of view of distances. The Sabina welcomes a vast territory, very rich and varied, an itinerary is a way to contain so much beauty, but the borders are wide and it is always hoped that our advice can be used as ideas for greater travels and curiosities