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Europe > Italy > Central Italy > Lazio > Rieti (province) > Rieti

Rieti

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Rieti is a small city in the region of Lazio in central Italy. It has a population of close to 50,000 and is the capital of the province of Rieti.

Understand[edit]

Despite being north of Rome, Rieti has a lot more in common with Southern Italy than with Northern Italy, both by culture and by the historically poor economic standard. It is not a mountain town, but the closeness to the Apennines and the bad roads make it seem more distant and less reachable than it really is.

The beauty of the landscape and the city's quietness, still uninvolved by mass tourism, make it a livable place and a favorite destination for many weekend tourists, coming mainly from Rome itself.

It has an ancient and lasting relationship with Rome, but has equally strong (or even stronger) ties with Umbria (mainly Terni) and Abruzzo (mainly L'Aquila). Until 1927, Rieti's territory wasn't even part of Lazio, being divided between Umbria and Abruzzo. Therefore, despite its current administrative placement in Lazio, it has more similarities with the quietness of Umbria and Abruzzo than with the chaotic metropolis of Rome.

The city centre rests on a small hilltop along the Velino River and overlooks the vast and fertile Rieti Plain or Holy Valley, almost entirely surrounded by mountains. The highest of them is Mount Terminillo, just 22 km (14 mi) away, an important ski centre. It has a fast athletics circuit and hosts an annual IAAF Grand Prix event at which world records are often broken. For American basketball followers, it is famous as the childhood home of Kobe Bryant.

Long considered the center of Italy (Umbilicus Italiae) since Roman times, Rieti is renowned for its natural resources; nicknamed the "granary of Rome", still today its limpid springs provide about 80% of the capital's drinking water.

History[edit]

Rieti is a very ancient city, being founded even before Rome, and it is often called "mother of Rome". Legends state that Rhea Silvia, the mother of Rome's legendary founders Romulus and Remus, came from Rieti; she's depicted in the city emblem. Historically, Rieti belonged to the Sabines, a very powerful people, held as the direct ancestors of many Roman families, as per the Romans' famous myth of the abduction and rape of the Sabine women, which inspired several paintings and songs.

During the 13th century, it became a Papal seat. At that time, Rieti was the last city in the Papal States before the border with the Kingdom of Naples (which was at Cittaducale, a mere stone's throw away), and hence was an important military post. Afterwards, the city's importance declined. In the 20th century, as it became a provincial capital and the see of a small industrial district, it regained a role in the region, one of the province's few areas not to be depopulating. Still, its area remains marginal in Italy's politics and economics.

In addition to being difficult to label, Rieti does not possess a single famous monument or aspect, and its name is often overshadowed by the magnificence of nearby Rome. For all these reasons, it's a little-known city even among Italians: locals are often forced to explain to foreigners where Rieti is, and to correct the demonym: not "rietini", but "reatini". Try not to get it wrong, locals resent it.

Get in[edit]

Transport map of Rieti's province

Rieti is a bit away from Italy's main traffic routes: it is not crossed by any toll motorway (autostrada, green on the map), state roads (blue on the map) are far to be uprated to a double carriageway standard, and the only train link is a lesser, almost forgotten railway.

However, despite the lacking infrastructures, Rieti is still fairly easy to access, since it is only 75 km (47 mi) away from Rome.

By car[edit]

  • Coming from Rome or from Southern Italy, take the Autostrada A1 toll motorway towards Florence, enter the "Diramazione Roma Nord" branch (Autostrada A1dir Italia.svg), then exit at Fiano Romano (before passing the "Roma Nord" toll booth). Follow directions to "Passo Corese" to enter a short dual carriageway shunt (strada statale 4 dir). At the end of the dual carriageway trait, you'll find yourself on state road no. 4 "Via Salaria" (strada statale 4), which leads straight to Rieti after about 45 minutes.
  • Coming from the north (Milan, Florence, etc) take the Autostrada A1 toll motorway (A1) and exit at Orte. Then follow the dual carriageway state road to Terni (strada statale 675) for about 20 minutes. East of Terni, take the exit to Rieti to enter the state road no. 79 (strada statale 79), which will lead you to Rieti in about half an hour.


By train[edit]

A bit complicated. Surprising as it may be, there is no railway to Rome: politicians have been promising such railway to the local population for over a century, but its funding is not foreseen anytime soon. Instead, Rieti has a less useful and important line, the outdated and underused railway which leads to Terni (Umbria) or L'Aquila (Abruzzo), which is operated with old and rather dirty diesel railcars, although it has a scenic and daring route through the Apennines. Rieti's 1 Train station. Rieti railway station (Q3970667) on Wikidata Rieti railway station on Wikipedia is located north of the medioeval city centre, just outside the city walls, 500 m (1,600 ft) from the main Vittorio Emanuele square.

Going from Rome to Rieti by train usually requires to take a train to Terni: they start from Rome’s Tiburtina or Termini station, and destination may appear on timetable as "Perugia" or "Ancona" (all of them stop in Terni). Then you have to get off in Terni and wait for the next diesel railcar to Rieti; destination may appear on timetable also as "L'Aquila" or "Antrodoco Centro" (all of them are ok, since all stop in Rieti). Recently, a small number of direct Rome-Rieti trains have been established: there are two scheduled trains per direction every day, operating from Monday to Friday. These trains spare you having to wait in Terni, but are still slower and less convenient than buses, taking a little less than two hours, and costing €8.40 for each passenger as of October 2018. Rieti's railway line is closed every year, just when many tourists could be willing to visit, from the end of July until the end of August; in that period, trains get replaced by buses, but they're not recommended, since they're even slower than the already slow train.
A bus from COTRAL's Rome-Rieti line, seen outside Rieti's train station

By bus[edit]

A direct line is run by regional company COTRAL, with a bus every half an hour during working days or every hour in sunday or holidays; it uses much more modern vehicles and is quite comfortable, unless it gets trapped in Rome's terrible traffic. The COTRAL bus starts from Rome's Tiburtina railway station and leaves you in Rieti's 2 COTRAL bus station., just outside the train station. The ride lasts around one hour and a half or a little more, depending on traffic; the ticket is around €5, and can be bought in most newsstands and tobacconists (tabaccheria), asking for a "fascia D" Cotral ticket.

By plane[edit]

There is no commercial airport in Rieti; nearest large airports are Rome's Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino (FCO IATA) and Ciampino (CIA IATA). If you plan to land there, first see here how to get to Rome (it is advised using the FL1 rail line FL1 from Fiumicino to the Tiburtina train station), then use train or buses described before to reach Rieti. If you own a small private aircraft, you can land in Rieti's airfield.

By boat[edit]

Nearest ferry or crusing ship port is Civitavecchia. To get to Rieti from Civitavecchia by public transport, first go to Rome (see how), then reach Rieti.

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

  • To reach Rieti's suburbs or nearby landmarks, you can use the urban bus service run by municipal company ASM. The ticket for a single ride is €0.90 and can be bought in most newsstands, cafes or tobacconists (tabaccheria). The 3 ASM bus station. is south of the city centre, far from the COTRAL bus terminal, but a mere 150 m (490 ft) from the Roman Bridge. Useful lines include the 333 line to Fonte Colombo, the 114 line to La Foresta, and the 513 line to Mount Terminillo.

On foot[edit]

Rieti's mediaeval city centre is quite small and easy to walk, if you're not too tired. It's better to leave the car outside the city walls, since there is little parking space inside the old town, and traffic is subject to limitations on certain areas (zona a traffico limitato or ZTL).

See[edit]

The mediaeval city walls along viale Morroni

Main square[edit]

Immediately out of the train and COTRAL bus station, before crossing the street on the crosswalks, you will see the Mediaeval city walls. Many Italian cities had defensive walls in the Middle Ages, but few in Lazio still have such an imposing and well preserved one. Rieti's walls were built in the 13th century and enclose the northern side of the city center; they were not needed at the southern side, enclosed by the Velino river, a natural defense. Unfortunately, you can't get on top of the walls, so the only way to visit them is to take a walk along viale Canali and viale Morroni, which border them. Nearest city gate is 1 Porta Conca, Via Nuova, 126. It maintains the original 16th century wooden doors.

  • After crossing the street, the 2 St. Augustine Basilica, Piazza Mazzini. Built in the 13th century, it retains the beautiful Romanesque-Gothic exterior. Sadly the interior was later renewed in a less impressive neoclassical style, but it is still worth a visit for some remaining 15th century frescoes (mainly Crocifissione by Liberato di Benedetto) and for the funeral monument of Angelo Maria Ricci by neoclassic sculptor Giuseppe De Fabris. free. (Q21187606) on Wikidata

After a while, you will be in the main square, piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, the highest point of the city. Notable elements in the square include:

  • 3 Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. It houses the municipal government and offices. The building dates back to the 14th century, but was largely modified afterwards. The nice neoclassical façade is work of Filippo Brioni (1748), while extensive changes were made after the 1898 earthquake, including the construction of the tall building on the left side, and the complete remaking of its rear side. Palazzo Comunale (Q21194393) on Wikidata
  • Palazzo Comunale also hosts the Civic art Museum, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, 1 (entrance under the porch, then go up to the second floor), +39 0746 287280, . Tu-Th 08:30-13:30; F Sa 08:30-13:30 and 15:30-18:30; Su and holidays 10:00-13:00 and 15:30-18:30. It displays several interesting artworks, including 14th century paintings by Luca di Tommè and Zanino di Pietro, several works by renaissance painter Antoniazzo Romano, an Ebe by Antonio Canova, and many works by notable local painters Antonio Gherardi, Carlo Cesi and Antonino Calcagnadoro. €3.
  • 4 Dolphin's fountain. 17th century fountain at the center of the square.
  • 5 Palazzo Dosi Delfini, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, 17. Neoclassical palace dating back to the 17th century. Houses the headquarters of Rieti's small university. (Q21194408) on Wikidata

From the main square to west[edit]

Via Cintia goes downhill until the northwestern Porta Cintia city gate. Sights include:

Palazzo Vincentini's Loggia del Vignola
  • 6 Palazzo Vincentini and Vignola's Gardens, Piazza Cesare Battisti (borders the main square on its southwest corner). 7:30-18:30. This 16th+century work is perhaps the most beautiful building here. Apart from the elegant façade, it has an astonishing Renaissance-styled loggia on the west side, overlooking a pretty Italian-style garden. The loggia has such a great artistic value that for a long time it was mistaken for a work by architect Vignola, and still it is commonly called "Loggia del Vignola" (although it is now considered the work of one of his pupils). The garden is always open to public, and is an enchanting place where children can play, and you can admire the beautiful loggia and a view over the roofs of the lower part of the city, lulled by the roar of the fountains. The Baroque interior of the building, normally not open to visits, since the building houses government offices, is sumptuous and includes a magnificent fireplace in polychrome marble. free. (Q21194517) on Wikidata
  • Civic Archeological Museum, Via Sant'Anna, 4 (From Piazza Cesare Battisti, go down the long staircase which is at the square's southwestern corner), +39 0746 287280, . Tu-Th 08:30-13:30; F Sa 08:30-13:30 and 15:30-18:30; Su and holidays 10:00-13:00 and 15:30-18:30. It consists in a display of sculptures, coins, goldsmithery and objects from the prehistoric, Etruscan, Hellenistic and Roman periods, including a iron age urn found near Rieti. €3.
  • 7 St. Mary Cathedral, Piazza Cesare Battisti. It was started in 1109. It has an impressive Romanesque bell tower from 1252. The interior was almost entirely rebuilt in 1639 and hence is mainly Baroque, and hosts several noteworthy paintings and sculptures. The crypt remains from the original Romanesque church. Cathedral (Rieti) (Q2942768) on Wikidata
  • 8 Diocesan museum of ecclesiastical assets (Museo diocesano dei beni ecclesiastici), Via Cintia, 83. It is a museal path consisting of the Cathedral Treasury museum, housed in the Cathedral's baptistery; a museum of liturgical furnishings, in rooms near to the Cathedral's crypt; a lapidary in the vestibule leading from the crypt to the Bishop's Palace; and of the Diocesan Art Gallery, set up in the audience hall of the Bishop's Palace. Museo diocesano del tesoro del Duomo (Q21660041) on Wikidata
The gothic vaults of the Bishop's palace
  • 9 Bishops' Palace (Palazzo Vescovile), Via Cintia, 108. Built in 1288, it has been the residence of several popes and hence is also called "Papal Palace". The exterior is severe and in Romanesque style; inside, the ground floor, always open to the public, houses a beautiful Gothic cross vault, while the upper floor contains the audience hall (which houses the diocesan picture gallery) and the bishop's private apartment. (Q21194512) on Wikidata
  • 10 Bonface VIII Arch, Via Cintia, 77. It's a large arch which runs over the street. It was built by Pope Boniface VIII, which witnessed the 1298 earthquake; he was so frightened of collapsing buildings, that he ordered his own palace to be reinforced with this arch. (Q21562938) on Wikidata
  • 11 St. Dominic church, Piazza Beata Colomba (take a left turn near house number n. 65, taking Via Sanizi). Built in the 13th century, the church was restored and reopened in the 1990s after being abandoned for two centuries. It preserves the Romanesque exterior, while few has remained of the original interior, apart from some small surviving frescoes. To fill the void, a very large pipe organ has been built inside. Chiesa di San Domenico (Q3669894) on Wikidata
  • 12 St. Peter the Martyr Oratory and Blessed Colomba cloister (entrance at the church's left side). St. Dominic church has an architecturally significant convent, well worth a visit. It develops around the Blessed Colomba cloister, with a beautiful Italian-style garden and a portico decorated by frescoed lunettes illustrating the life of the blessed Colomba. At one side of the cloister, there is the St. Peter the Martyr Oratory, a small chapel that houses an astonishing fresco of the Last Judgment, painted by brothers Lorenzo and Bartolomeo Torresani between 1552 and 1554. Sadly, it is almost impossible to visit the oratory and the cloister, since it's part of the military area of an Italian Army barracks (caserma Verdirosi), and the military allows touristic visits only on special occasions (eg. "giornate FAI"). This is a real shame, since it is arguably the most important fresco in the whole city!


From the main square to east[edit]

Piazza San Rufo, the assumed Center of Italy

Going east from the main square, Via Garibaldi goes downhill until the eastern Porta d'Arci city gate. Sights include:

  • 13 The assumed Center of Italy, Piazza San Rufo (take a right turn to the small alley near house number n. 278). The so-called geographical center of Italy might seem like a gimmick to attract tourists, but Rieti was actually nicknamed "Umbilicus Italiae" ("navel of Italy") even in Roman times. The exact point is at St. Rufus square, recorded by a multilingual plaque and a monument which locals call "caciotta", as it resembles a round cheese.
  • In the same square, you will also find 14 St. Rufus Church. The small Baroque church is worth a visit mainly because of the painting known as "The Guarding Angel", hosted inside and attributed to Caravaggio or one of his pupils. It is said to be the most important painting in town. (Q21187747) on Wikidata
  • 15 Flavio Vespasiano Theather, Via Garibaldi, 265. Opened in 1893, it is the city's main theater and opera house, held as one of Italy's best theaters for acoustics. The elegant interior holds art noveau decorations by Antonino Calcagnadoro and a large painting on the dome by Giulio Rolland, depicting the triumph of Rome's emperors Titus and Flavius following the victory over Jerusalem. Teatro Flavio Vespasiano (Q3981982) on Wikidata Teatro Flavio Vespasiano on Wikipedia
  • 16 St. Anthony the Abbot church (chiesa di Sant'Antonio Abate), Via Vignola (you have to take a left turn near house number n. 201). This church was built in 1620 on a design by famous architect Vignola. Its Baroque façade was never completed: the brickwork surface had to be covered with marble slabs, like Rome's Gesù church. Sadly, the church has been lying abandoned since the 1970s; its interior is off limits and has become a refuge for pigeons, stray cats and vandals. Sant'Antonio Abate (Q3672645) on Wikidata
  • 17 Via dei Pozzi (walk Via dei Pozzi as an alternative to the final part of Via Garibaldi, by taking a right turn near house number n. 170 to Via delle Canali). It's a small alley that perfectly represents the typical features of mediaeval cities, with arches, ladders and narrow passages. Sadly it's not the cleanest spot in town, even if recently repaved.
Porta d'Arci city gate
  • 18 Porta d'Arci, Via Garibaldi, 1. The eastern city gate of the mediaeval walls, the largest and arguably the most scenic one, on the Via Salaria consular road to Ascoli and L'Aquila.

From the main square to south[edit]

Via Roma, a street filled of shops and boutiques, goes downhill until reaching the Velino riverside. Sights include:

  • 19 Palazzo Vecchiarelli, Via Roma, 57. 16th century palace designed by baroque architech Carlo Maderno. (Q21194510) on Wikidata
  • Rieti sotterranea, +39 347 7279591, . By reservation only. A guided visit to the undergrounds of Via Roma's buildings surprisingly reveal that a 3rd century Roman viaduct is still in place under the street, and supports the weight of the road with its arches. It is also shown how in the past some buildings had a boat access from the Velino river, like in a small-scale Venice. The visit lasts around 1 hour and 45 minutes. €7.
The Roman Bridge and the Velino riverside
  • Remains of the 20 Roman Bridge on Velino River. Built in the 3rd century AD, it remained the main access to the town until the 1930s, when it became too low on the water level and had to be demolished. The old bridge was laid out on the riverbed, but can still be seen emerging from the water, while a modern bridge replaced it. The nearby area is a very good spot to enjoy Rieti's natural beauties: Velino's water is clear, the riverside is covered by a nice lawn, and ducks use the old bridge as a nest. There are nice cafes and pubs facing the river. Ponte romano di Rieti (Q3908183) on Wikidata
  • 21 St. Francis church, Piazza San Francesco (From the Velino riverside, cross the river using the pedestrian wood bridge). Built in 13th century over a small oratory founded by Saint Francis, it's indeed his second church ever. It features a simple and clean Romanesque exterior, and a less valuable Baroque interior. It's very important for local believers, as it's the starting point of the procession of Saint Anthony, held every year on June 13. free. (Q21187709) on Wikidata
  • 22 Monument to the Lira, Piazza Cavour. The euro currency was introduced on January 1, 2002. Italians still have fond memories of their former currency, the lira, despite the fact that they had to count in millions; this monument, sculpted by Daniela Fusco and inaugurated in 2003 by Sofia Loren, has became a cherished tourist attraction. (Q11823318) on Wikidata
Porta Romana
  • 23 Porta Romana, Piazza della Repubblica. The southern city gate of the mediaeval city walls, into the Via Salaria consular road to Rome. The current gate was built in 1586 and enclosed the small street Via Porta Romana; in 1930 it was moved at the center of the square to make its appearance more spectacular, as if it was an arch of triumph. Atop the gate, an inscription greets who is entering the city in Latin Ingredere Omnia Fausta Ferens ("enter bringing good wishes"); another salutes who is exiting the city with I et red feliciter ("go and come back successfully").

Do[edit]

  • 1 Cycling route along the Velino river (Giorlandina or Ciclovia A). A beautiful bicycle path runs by the southern Velino riverside, going from west to east. It is 3 km (1.9 mi) long and allows for a nice bike ride near the green river shores and far from traffic. Benches and drinking fountains are available along the way.
  • 2 Cycling route in the countryside (Ciclovia della Conca Reatina). This is a longer bicycle path that consists of a 21 km (13 mi) circular ring which starts and ends in Rieti. Entirely flat and without climbs, it is immersed in the nature of the Rieti Plain, between cultivated fields and rivers. Rest areas along the way have benches, picnic tables and drinking fountains. For most of the length, the bikeway has an easily recognizable orange colour. Pay attention to the Contigliano-Sant'Elia trait, where the route is not well indicated: always look for the red dashed line at the roadside to be sure of being on the right way.
  • 3 Fonte Cottorella Thermal springs, Via Fonte Cottorella, 19, +39 0746 271640. 1.5 km (0.93 mi) south of the city center, Fonte Cottorella is a renowned spring of mineral water, used for drinking and for bathing. Near the spring there is the thermal building (sadly in a rather poor state), a restaurant, and a small park with benches, tables and paths that go into the nearby mountain. Its water can be tasted for free in a public fountain, and can be bought in larger quantities at a convenient price.

Buy[edit]

Eat[edit]

  • Il Nido del Corvo is in the small village of Greccio on the left of the road from Rieti to Terni. Specialized in local dishes, it's on the edge of a hill, with great views of the surrounding countryside.

Dudas Epicurateca is a wine bar/enoteca in the old city, that has a lovely outdoor terrace with stunning views of the surrounding area. The food is mainly small dishes based on local produce, the wine list extensive. The owner will help with suggestions and will make combinations to order. An {almost) hidden gem. Via dei Crispolti 26, 02100 Rieti.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

  • 6 Relais Villa D'Assio, Colli sul Velino, Via Ternana (ex SS79), "Mazzetelli" locality, +39 0746 636200, . 20 minutes from Rieti by car. The place is nice and surrounded by nature.
  • 7 Park Hotel Villa Potenziani, Via San Mauro, 6 (at Porta d'Arci's traffic light, turn towards L'Aquila, then immediately take the small road at right, and go ahead for five minutes), +39 0746 202765, . A large aristocratic villa with a park converted into a hotel, on the top of San Mauro Hill, surrounded by nature but just 1.5 km (0.93 mi) from the city center. Anyway a car is pretty much needed to go up and down the hill.

Connect[edit]

  • 2 Main post office, Via Garibaldi, 283 (near the Palazzo Comunale, at the east border of main square Vittorio Emanuele). The building is a work of architect Cesare Bazzani (1934).
  • Several areas in the city centre are covered by the municipal Wi-Fi network called "RietiFree", which lets you surf the internet for free; you are required to sign up at your first connection.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Rieti
RomeTorricella in Sabina  S Strada Statale 4 Italia.svg E  CittaducaleAscoli Piceno
TerniContigliano  W Strada Statale 79 Italia.svg E  → ? → ?
? ← ? ←  NW Strada Statale 578 Italia.svg SE  Petrella SaltoAvezzano


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