photo © Italo Caira
The small village of Montattico sits above the town of Casalattico, at a height of 700 meters. It has commanding panoramic views of the Val di Comino and the surrounding mountains.
The village was once known as Mons Atticum. It took its name from the Roman, Titus Pomponius Atticus who owned a villa constructed in this vicinity.
An ancient stone epigraph was discovered near to the Camposanto / Monforte area inscribed in both Latin and Greek. It refers to the construction of a road by Caius Pomponius Tigranus, freedman of Gaius Ponponius. This road was built at his own expense, and linked Montattico with the town of Atina.
POMPONIVS C.L. TIGRANVS
FACIT DE SVA PECVNI
H.S. L. DD
SEN AIVTORE VICANIS
There was also a Roman temple dedicated to Bacchus located near to the present Church of Santa Maria della Pace.
During the Middle Ages there was a settlement here named Mons Acticum. The Counts of Aquino built a fortification with a watch tower on a spur of Mount Cairo. This had commanding views of the surrounding territory and was able to defend the lush pasture land and mountain passes and overlooked the entrance to the Cassino valley. Today you can see the remains of the main nucleus of the castle, a tower and a water cistern enclosed by a mighty fortified wall.
The Wells or Pozzi
Many of the steep hillsides were terraced with tiers of dry stone walls. Farmers and shepherds often found that they were short of water. Therefore they ingeniously set about carving numerous water cisterns out of the rock in order to collect any precious rainwater. Today many of these wells or pozzi have been left abandoned but a few have been well preserved and can be seen in the Fonnelle area.
Also the shepherds created structures known as caselle. These were small circular constructions built with dry stone masonry. The roofs were conical and made of wood and straw. They served as mountain shelters for the shepherds and a place for making cheese. This is an ancient type of architecture used in the Mediterranean area since the 2nd millennium BC.
The Local Terrain and Hiking paths
There are many interesting mountain trails to follow within the territory that borders the municipalities of Colle San Magno, Terelle and Casalattico. Here is the Massif of Monte Cairo (1,669 m), the Mountains of Obachelle, Siara and Marro, the verdant vallies of Campo del Popolo and Valle Noce.
The Astronomical Observatory
The Astronomical Observatory Emiliano Nardone is situated in a high position overlooking the Gorges of the River Melfa, in area free from light pollution. It was opened in 2015.
Church of the Madonna della Pace and Festa della Penitenza
Back in 1837 Montattico was struck by a devastating outbreak of cholera which claimed the lives of many of the local inhabitants, causing great suffering and despair. During the month of July of that year the local people got together and formed a solemn procession of penance through the streets of the town and beseeched their patron the Madonna della Pace to release them from this terrible pestilence. They walked barefoot, with a rope around their necks and each wearing a crown of thorns. It is said that their prayers were answered and that from that day forward there were no more cases of cholera in the village. On the occasion of the centenary, in 1937 the emigrants of Montattico expressed a wish to restored the church at their own expense. The Festa of the Penitenza takes place each year on the 29th July in Montattico.
My sincere thanks to the following photographers for kindly sharing their photos for this page about Montattico:
Italo Caira and Antonio Iacobelli.
My thanks also to Antonio Iacobelli of the Facebook Group Casalvieri e dintorni: angoli nascosti for sharing his local knowledge.
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