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Starting with geography, Acuto stands over 700 mtrs asl on a ridge forming part of the Hernici Mountains above the Sacco Valley.
According to records, Acuto was founded in the 5th century AD - by inhabitants of nearby Anagni, who were fleeing invasion, although other findings show that there was already a small settlement up there. Records dating back to 1051, mention a stronghold close to Anagni called Castrum Acuti presumed to be referring to present day Acuto. This stronghold fell under alternating dominion of local feudal lords, and bishops from Anagni, until the end of the 14th century. The bishops succeeded.
In 1557 Spain declared war on the Pope and Anagni as well as the rest of the Ciociaria and the whole territory was attacked by Marcantonio Colonna, head of an army of Spanish soldiers. To cut a long story short - Spain won! But Acuto wasn't crushed (unlike many of the surrounding settlements) and became predominant, clashing with Anagni over the course of the following centuries. Anagni wanted to claw its power back! These clashes eventually came to an end at the start of the 1800's at which point Acuto fell into decline.
History & Geography
What to See & Do
The atmosphere was wonderful the other day - feeling more like a typical English Autumn with the temperature up there slightly fresh and breezy than an Italian September and we really enjoyed our brief visit.
Culinary-wise Acuto is linked with the Cesanese wine with vineyards in surrounding areas and there are two fine restaurants here but best to check opening times before you set off - we have included opening hours for 'Il Frantoio'. The other 'Colline Ciociara' on via Prenestina 27, Acuto is an elegant establishment with 1 Michelin 'star', with panoramic views but it seemed closed Thursday lunchtime.
There is an unusual positioning of 2 churches right next to each other (pictured). Church of the Suore del Preziosissimo Sangue, is the smaller on the left - founded by Saint Maria de Mattias (b. 1805 at Vallecorsa FR) whose name is referenced around the town and who started the congregation of the 'Nuns of Adoration of the Blood of Christ' and there is still a convent here today. The second larger church is the 'Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta' and was built first. This larger church commissioned local man and famous 'stuccatore', Paniccia di Sgurgola, to decorate the interior (in 1870) with fancy plaster work, but he was not a fan of "the church" and designed an image of an eagle overpowering a crow in a bit of a protest, on nearly all of the column bases. The eagle representing monarchy and the crow representing the church. This was a personal rebuff, but we don't know if the church understood this, as the images are clearly visible today and seem never to have been covered over.
We noticed several religious niches in the sides of houses - probably created by grateful owners giving thanks to a particular saint for answering a personal prayer. Depictions or objects of the saint would be placed inside. This ancient pagan practice is thought to have originated as early as Roman times, but was popular during the Medieval and Renaissance eras.
The oldest church in Acuto - the Church of SS. Sebastiano & Rocco (not pictured) - hides a bit of a mystery - a maze palindrome, or labyrinth palindrome incorporated into the frescoes, plus four red crosses inscribed in circles, similar to those seen in churches or other religious buildings that belonged to the Order monastic knights of the Knights Templar. The frescoes are splendid - dating to the 1500's - carefully restored in the 1980's. The crest of Acuto is 'Three Nails' (tre chiodi) and can be seen on the back wall. There is a niche where once stood a wooden statue of 'Madonna of Acuto' but it was moved during the Fascist period to the Map Room inside Palazzo Venezia, in the centre of Rome. It is a valuable piece.
Pretty much the highest spot in Acuto with great views of the valley over there to your left :)
We were SO tempted to knock on the door here as the most wonderful smell of yellow peppers being cooked was wafting out into the air!
Aren't these mini slatted vents a brilliant idea - love them! And below is the old chemist shop with a seemingly original interior, or at least, jolly old.
This fresco is just outside someones home. It's 17th century and was originally inside the Church of Saint Nicolas and depicts the Madonna delle Cese. The plaque reads: 'in memory of Stefania without whose keen interest and hard work this work of art would have been lost to time' - rough translation. Restoration was completed in 2010.
Above are two examples of the religious or votive niches. The one on the right is protected by glass.
Views of the war memorial.
We had a go at translating the Latin (above) which seems to have been chiseled into this plaque by the man who restored the building or who paid to have it restored and we think the eagle is his family coat of arms (just a guess, because it's not the symbol of Pope Clement). Building restoration was completed during the Pontificate of Pope Clement IX in the year AD 1668. If anyone can set us straight we'd like to hear from you.
Above we have a lovely coast of arms of a cardinal, an even more lovely entrance to someone's home - below a storm drain which is situated on the upper square (the one with the views). We believe that snow is common in winter too which probably adds to the mystery of the place. An finally just a nice blue door.