Situated in the north-east of Lazio, Rieti borders with Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo, although many decades ago Rieti was part of Umbria; the culinary influence of which is still reflected in local dishes the closer you get to the border. We could label this the wilderness province with its untamed landscape, narrow roads snaking through thickly foliaged trees clutching onto hills and mountain sides, rich in national parks, protected nature reserves and the main lakes of Salto, Turano & Scandarello. Lake Turano seems to be most popular for watersports.
Rieti is also a very watery province, on account of its many wellsprings; a huge one being in Cittaducale which provides up to 500 litres of naturally drinkable water, per head per day, for inhabitants of Rome. If you compare this with London or Paris they only get 200 litres per head and their water has to be purified first!
Modern Rieti is still popular in winter with skiers who flock to Cittareale & Terminillo – one of the highest mountains in Italy and the highest in Lazio. Skiing here (or being seen, at least) was the place to be in the 60's & 70's and some of that charm still lingers, which is rather nice.
Myths & Religion
Since ancient times this territory has borne the name of the tribe who inhabited it: Sabina after the Sabines. There is a popular myth linked to the Sabine women, who were extremely popular with the Romans during the reign of Romulus.
Rieti has its share of important religious history too; in particular, the hill-top village of Greccio (twinned with Bethlehem) which was the site of the very first living nativity in European history, and St. Francis, patron saint of Italy, who relocated here from Assisi to lived in a grotto, in order to follow his calling.
City of Rieti
Rieti is small and charming and is in the exact centre of Italy. Originally known in the 8th c. BC as Reate; founded by the Sabine people. Hypotheses regarding origins of the name are (i) that it is named after the goddess Rea (mother of all gods), or (ii) Rea Silvia (mother of Romulus & Remus). It is connected to Rome by the ancient Via Salaria (Salt Road). An English gentleman, Augustus Hare, wrote about Rieti in 1875 in a little book called ‘Days Near Rome’, where he talks of the beauty of the territory and its rich vegetation. He also wrote an earlier book (1865): ‘Walks in Rome & Memorials of a Quiet Life’. When you visit this area you can see why he would have wanted to write about it.