photo © Louise Shapcott
Picinisco in The Val Di Comino
Picinisco is perched high on a ridge (850 metres above sea level) on the slopes of the Monti Meta mountain range which overlooks the Val di Comino. The mountain slopes around the little town are surrounded by woodland with beech, chestnut and oak trees. The local inhabitants are known as piciniscani.
Picinisco is also made up of several neighbouring hamlets which include Fontitune, Valleporcina, Casale, Liscia, San Gennaro, San Giuseppe, Le Serre, San Pietro and Castellone and Colleposta.
Piazza Ernesto Capocci
At the heart of the village is the main piazza, named after Ernesto Capocci, an Italian astronomer who was born in Picinisco in 1798. Here there is a terraced walkway where magnificent panoramic views of the Val di Comino can be enjoyed. Also in the square is the characteristic plane tree which stands in front of the 18th century Codarda Gateway with it twin clock towers. Closeby is the Comune or town hall and the Church of San Rocco.
If you continue up hill along via Enzo Capocci, passing the town hall on your left, you will come to the Parco Montano. Here is the town’s War Memorial. There is also a plaque dedicated to those men from Picinisco who drowned in the tragic sinking of the Arandora Star during World War II. (On the morning of 2nd July 1940, off the coast of Ireland the Arandora Star, which was transporting Italian enemy aliens to Canada, was torpedoed with the loss of almost 700 lives.) Closeby there is a small childrens park.
The tree-lined walkway, Vico Murri, leads to the castle gate known as Porta Rione. The castle is situated in the highest part of the medieval town. It was built by the Counts of Aquino in the 11th century. The gateway leads into Piazza Rione.
The Historic Centre of Picinisco
The central narrow street is called Via Maggiore. As you walk along the cobbled alleys within the historic centre, there is something of interest around every corner.
Agriculture and Local Produce
Agriculture, sheep and goat farming still play a significant part in the local economy. The Picinisco / Val di Comino area is well known for its production of Pecorino Cheese which has been awarded the title of Protected Designation of Origin, DOP. The cheese is made from sheeps’ milk from the Sopravissana, Comisana or Massese breeds, with the addition of up to 25% goats’ milk from the Grigia Ciociara e Bianca Monticellana breeds. The animals are raised on the local mountain sides and graze on fresh wild herbs. The mature cheese, Stagionato, is salty with an intense flavour.. The younger cheese, Scamosciato, is served as a table cheese, and is softer and sweeter. Other locally produced cheeses include fresh Ricotta and Marzolina.
Today the new industry of tourism is helping to bring in much welcome funding from outside the immediate area. It is said that the town’s population more than doubles in size during the summer months with many of Scottish-Italians flooding back to the town of origin of their ancestors.
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Last Updated Nov 2018