Visit Civita Castellana
Civita Castellana is located on the slopes of Mount Soratte, in northern Latium in the Lazio region of central Italy to the north of Rome.
Explore Civita Castellana
Originally built on a block of tufa, Civita has several monuments and places of interest including a cathedral, where we suggest you start your visit, and a fortress.
Civita Castellana Cathedral
The cathedral in Civita Castellana was built in the 12th century on the site of an earlier pagan temple.
The first thing you will notice is the central portico, adorned with a marble frame within which there is a polychrome mosaic, surmounted by a lunette with a half pink rose. On the right in the lunette there is a fine mosaic of Christ giving blessings.In the portico you can also see a Roman altar, in Greek marble and with ornamental reliefs.
The interior of the cathedral, restored in baroque style, is in the form of a Latin cross and with a Cosmatesque (inlaid pattern) style floor.
The baptistery has a 15th century baptismal font and the altar consists of a Roman sarcophagus of marble, depicting the “Primacy of St. Peter”. The pulpit was reconstructed with fragments of the original temple.
On the last altar is the “Madonna del Rosario”, a 15th century painting by the Roman school and to the right you can see the “Virgin of Light”, a 14th century fresco in a gilded frame.
Particularly remarkable in the cathedral is the romanesque crypt, with vaulted ceilings supported by columns decorated with capitals dating from various ages, while on the walls there are two tabernacles in Renaissance style.
Other churches to visit
Among the other religious monuments of interest in Civita Castellana are the Church of Saint Francis, probably the largest in the city and which contains art works from various periods. It is a quaint and beautiful church, with an interior dating from the 18th century, and with two well-preserved 16th century paintings by Sano di Pietro (1406-1481) and Antoniazzo Romano (c.1430-c.1510).
Other churches of interest include:
- the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine is thought to date from the 12th century, but suffered significant alterations in the 16th century.
- the Church of Santa Chiara is a medieval building, but substantially altered by the restoration work; and
- the Church of St. Peter, in the main square near the monastery, dates from the 18th century. Among the works of art, we should highlight a painting by Antoniazzo Romano.
Another highlight in Civita Castellana is the Sangallo fortress, which was built, at the request of Alexander VI, by Antonio Sangallo: The work was begun by Antonio Sangallo the Elder and completed by Antonio Sangallo the Younger.
The fort has a pentagonal plan, while the central tower was built in an octagonal shape on the walls of an ancient castle dating from the tenth century.
The fortress is dominated by a massive tower, surrounded by a moat on all sides.
Other information about a visit to Civita Castellana
Finish your visit with a look at the so-called 'Porta Borgiana' (Borgia Gate), which is an ancient gate erected in 1492 in honour of Rodrigo Borgia, the future pope Alexander VI. It was built with materials from an ancient Roman tomb, the bas-relief details of which are still well maintained.
Museum of Civita Castellana
The Museum of Civita Castellana contains some items that are of particular importance. The nine exhibition halls are located on the 1st floor of the portico, with rooms 1-5 devoted primarily to “Civita Castellana”, or rather the primitive settlement of “Falerii Veteres”. Highlights of these galleries include:
- room 1: ancient artifacts from the tenth to the sixth century BC
- room 2: items from the 3rd century BC. Note particularly a beautiful “deinos” (Attic black-figure pottery) and an elegant “oinochoe” (from the Ancient Greek word “oìnos” (wine) and “Kéo” (to pour), with red figures, and a feminine image in the act of looking in the mirror.
- room 3: numerous bronzes of the 6th-3rd century BC and Attic pottery including a crater with the apotheosis of Hercules, by the so-called "Painter of London" (a Greek painter, active about 540 BC).
- room 4: dedicated to the reconstruction of a tomb
- room 5: ceramics with red figures of the Faliscan school, plus several architectural terracottas, including a fragment of Attic pottery. Across the portico three further rooms feature some funerary finds from the temples of Faliscan and Etruscan culture.
- room 8: a fine black Attic vase of the sixth century BC and some gold ornaments.
- room 9: some local pottery and Attic red and black-figures
Cuisine in Civita Castellana
The visit to the town should entice you to try the local cuisine, which largely follows that of Rome. Vegetables are used in the preparation of soups, while pastas to try including the "fettuccine alla romana", “pajata with rigatoni”, “spaghetti all’ amatriciana”, and the “carbonara”.
Among the meat dishes popular around Civita Castellana there is the famous local “abbacchio” ["lamb"]. Others include oxtail "alla vaccinara", “saltimbocca”; and the famous artichoke “alla giudìa”. Local cheeses are often based on sheep's milk.
Latium is also among the most famous wine regions of Italy - sample the wines of Castelli Romani perhaps.
See also history of Civita Castellana
Map of Civita Castellana and places nearby
Civita Castellana places to visit
See more places nearby in the Rome - Lazio guide