On April 9, 20 villages in Italy, exactly one per region, challenged each other to win the 2023 “Borgo dei Borghi” award, which saw the small village of Ronciglione, near Viterbo, awarded by the Kilimangiaro program on RAI Tre.
Marco Mengoni’s hometown overcame stiff competition from Sant’Antioco in Sardinia and Salemi in Sicily, taking home the 10th edition of the RAI program’s contest.
What makes this place special? First and foremost, its folkloric Carnival, one of the most characteristic in Italy and one of the most important nationwide, which traces its tradition back to the mid-1600s, stemming from the Roman Renaissance and Baroque carnival that took its cue from the Saturnali, an ancient ritual where the population indulged in debauchery, lust and every form of pleasure.
The common thread was merriment and there were no class differences, with servants disguising themselves as masters and vice versa, drinking and eating together.
In 1538 Pope Paul III Farnese, to celebrate the investiture of his son Pier Luigi Farnese as duke of Castro and Ronciglione, granted the people of Ronciglione three days of revelry that were very well appreciated by the population, which made it a true festival within a few years.
The historical origin of this event is intertwined with legend when it comes to one of the most characteristic events of the festival, the Parade of the Hussars.
The story goes that a captain of the French hussars (military forming part of a light cavalry unit, ed.), who was stationed in Ronciglione in defense of the Papal States, fell in love with a beautiful local lady, and in order to strut before her eyes, he began to parade several times at the head of his dragoons, thus giving rise to the tradition that is repeated every year with an evocative parade.
During the period defined as the “Farnese,” the same name family made major structural interventions in the Borgo, and it was in fact the most significant one in terms of population and relevance in the area, until stabilization in recent decades where more or less 3,000 people steadily live in the small village even today.
The Borgo, like many in Tuscia, was born as a base for relocating the populations of the territories, and starting from the fulcrum of the town, namely the Church, the housing complex was later built. The one with which Ronciglione is identified, in addition to the town cathedral, is certainly that of Santa Maria della Provvidenza, which stands today on the edge of a cliff.
The Rocca is another important place in the town, erected in the early Middle Ages by the Prefects of Vico to guard the only natural access to the town. It is known by the popular name of “I Torrioni,” and several popes have stayed there, including Pope Sixtus IV and Pope Paul III.
Walking toward the Town Hall, one can admire various historical relics including a Roman sarcophagus with relief figures and a plaque commemorating the visit of Victor Emmanuel III in 1890.
In front of the palace, note the Fountain of the Unicorns, erected by the Farnese family where the iconic heads of mythological beings sprout from a basin sprinkling the one below with choreographed water gushes at dawn and dusk.
The place also enjoys proximity to the highest lake in Italy, namely Lake Vico, surrounded by the peaks of the Cimini Mountains, itself set in the Lake Vico Regional Nature Reserve.
All this just a few kilometers away from Rome, in a firm balance between nature and the city. At 58 kilometers from Rome there is history, culture, and natural areas in which to spend a pleasant day away from the hustle and bustle of Rome. What are you waiting for? Come to any of our offices in Rome to request the perfect quote for you!