👣 22 km by foot – Monday 13 September
Day two of our discovery of the Southern Via Francigena. Our day started around 8.30 with a nice group picture, composed by about 25 people. We started walking a nice stage, mostly in the forest, enjoying the freshness and greenness, with the Albano Lake on our left. We then walked a part of ‘basolato’ along the Via Sacra, still perfectly conserved – something I was not expecting in the middle of the woods!
It’s a great emotion to walk on the Via Cassia to enter Rome, and on the Via Appia Antica to leave Rome – both roads that have been touched, many centuries ago, by the feet of ancient Romans! The regional park of Castelli Romani led us through the woods for quite a while before arriving in Nemi. I’ve never been here before and it’s really an incredible place. At our arrival in Nemi, a volcanic lake with a view on the town of Genzano appeared suddenly! Close to us was also a local museum which seemed very interesting, but we didn’t have the time to visit: years ago, they discovered two boats from the ancient Romans in the lake of Nemi, and they couldn’t understand what their purpose was. It seems that Caligola would use these boats to have parties, and therefore they would never move from here! When they were discovered, the lake was emptied to remove them from the lake, lowering the water level to recover the boats and expose them.
Another good reason to come back here is to see the temple dedicated to Diana, which will open in a couple of months and that we were only able to see from a distance. I am happy to know the municipality is investing to open this treasure to the public.
Finally, we entered the town of Nemi, very beautiful, picturesque, and not very touristy – we only met one small group of Germans. An authentic gem to discover along the Via Francigena del Sud. Here, we met the mayor, who offered us some fruit, which we always appreciate, and then we ate a piece of pizza for lunch. At this point we started our climb uphill, which I always enjoy, especially when it’s in the shade, like this one.
After this challenging section we started our descend toward Velletri, in the plane, where some regional representatives were waiting for us below a LED panel welcoming our group of pilgrims. They really made us feel home! It was the very first time that a municipality did something like this: we could not miss taking a picture with them there. We then had a short tour of the center of Velletri, also inside the municipality, where we were gifted some interesting books which will add up to our many books collected during these months of journey. I’ve thought of opening a library dedicated to the Via Francigena! It’s a project I really like and I hope to develop one my on the road adventure is over.
After this institutional moment there was another surprise for us: our program expected a visit at the Archeological Museo Civico, where the sarcophagus of Hercules is. I was very tired but I’m happy I participated to this visit: I discovered that that marble sarcophagus, ages 2000 years, did not preserve the body of Hercules, but tell his story through anecdotes and mystery stories. I really recommend visiting it because it’s definitely worth it!
Crossing the Parco Regionale dei Castelli Romani
The beautiful town of Nemi
The Museo Civico Archeologico (with the inevitable sarcophagus of Hercules)
Myra Stals, social media manager (EAVF)
Martina D’Agostino, project assistant (EAVF)
Roberto Battista, Regione Lazio
Giancarlo Forte, President of the Gruppo dei Dodici
Ciclowine (Chiara and Augusto), RTR ambassadors
Joanne Roan, RTR ambassador
Fabrizio de Angelis, AIGAE guide
Alessandra Fiandra, guide from Lazio Colli Romani
Members of Nord Walking Club Castelli Romani
Enrico Baroni, videomaker
Several local walkers