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Day Trips from Rome: The Ghost Town of Canale Monterano

Eager to explore new sites, our tour guides Serena, Valeria and Nicole have decided to go to the Ghost Town of Canale Monterano and embark on this day trip from Rome.

I didn’t know what to expect this time, since I’ve never heard of this place before, and since Canale Monterano isn’t a usual tourist attraction either.
To avoid the traffic we left early in the morning by car and we headed to the Natural Park of Monterano, not far from Bracciano’s lake.

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This desert village stands on the top of a tuff hill, a ghost city that gained popularity thanks to the movie industry. Indeed, this amazing place has been the backdrop to several movies, including Il Marchese del Grillo and Lady Hawke.

We parked our cars and walked along a path, that led us to a small wood gate. Suddenly we were surrounded by this spectacular, green setting and by silence.
We were all astonished by the landscape, and these beautiful, ancient ruins of the Medieval castle and of a Roman aqueduct with its imposing arches.

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We took our time to admire the landscape from the foot of the hill, and made some friends along the way…

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In the meantime our guides told us that Monterano has been a human settlement since the Bronze Age, and that also became a flourishing Etruscan city.

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We climbed the hill to the top and reached the ruins of the castle, an ancient fortress from the VIII century that has been redesigned and reshaped many times during its life. In 1679, during the Baroque Period, Prince Altieri commissioned to Bernini the works of the fortress. Today it is still possible to admire a copy of Bernini’s Lion Fountain among these ancient ruins.

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In the same period, Mattia Rossi completed the construction of the San Bonaventura Church, based on Bernini’s projects. As in the 17th Century, the monastery beautifully stands alone on a green plain, a little farther out from the town, with the octagonal fountain.

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In 1799 the village was attacked by the French army, that destroyed most of the buildings and sacked its inhabitants. Immediately after, an outbreak of malaria forced the people of Canale Monterano to leave, and soon this lively village became an abandoned, ghost town.

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