Do you want to discover the most hidden corners and get to know this land at its best? In this guide, you will find a complete itinerary on what to see in Sabina Italy.
The Sabina region is located in Central Italy and it is geographically situated between Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo; it stretches on the left bank of the lower side of the Tiber River in the province of Rieti. The hilly territory is rich in centuries-old olive trees, orchards and vineyards. Sabina is famous for the presence of some of the best historic villages in the Lazio region. This territory is also rich in museums, abbeys and monasteries, castles, towers, monuments, religious itineraries or suitable for sportsmen, easily accessible by car.
On a touristic level, it is not yet very developed and, for this reason, those who come to spend time in this territory will find it is still intact, an ideal place for a trip out of town in the surroundings of Rome or for a relaxing weekend in contact with nature, art and culture.
In the summertime, Sabina offers a vast calendar of events, concerts, festivals, tastings, exhibitions and shows. However, there are many things to see in Sabina all year round. There are also many interesting sights to explore in its villages, which offer refreshment from the city heat in summer. In autumn and spring, on the other hand, walks and visits to olive mills, to taste the new olive oil, are favored by a milder climate.
Its name derives from the Sabines, a population that settled in this geographical area around the 10th-9th centuries BC, but Sabina has been inhabited since prehistoric times. There are numerous references in the historical tradition of this land such as the famous “Kidnapping of the Sabine Women”.
Among the various curiosities, I would like to point out that one of the oldest and largest olive trees in Europe is found here: the Olive of Canneto Sabino, in Fara Sabina, known as “the Ulivone”, which is 3,000 years old. In fact, the prized Sabina PDO olive oil is produced here. There are also many nature trails such as the Nazzano Tevere Farfa Nature Reserve and the Farfa Gorges, which we will discuss later.
If you are planning an out-of-town trip or a trip to Lazio, follow me on this itinerary where I will give you all the tips on what to see in Sabina.
Discovering the villages of Sabina
With this guide, we will discover together all the fantastic Sabina villages and hamlets, which are absolutely worth visiting. Let’s start from Casperia, a small town in the province of Rieti: 👇
Casperia a small town located between the left bank of the Tiber River and the Sabine Mountains. Known since antiquity by the name of Aspra Sabina, named by the Latin poet Virgil in the Aeneid, it is considered among the most beautiful ancient villages in Italy, which is why it was awarded the Orange Flag by the Italian Touring Club. The distinctive “onion bulb” shape of its historic center enchants visitors. Its narrow streets wind in a series of concentric circles that slowly close until they narrow; all converging in the stunning Piazza di San Giovanni Battista.
2. Castelnuovo di Farfa
Also in the province of Rieti we find Castelnuovo di Farfa. It is located in one of the most beautiful and enchanting areas of Sabina, between the Farfa River and the Riana stream. Here you can visit the Sabina Olive Oil Museum, inside the 16th-century Palazzo Perelli, to learn the secrets of this product, a unique vehicle of Italian traditions and culture. This town also offers one of the most typical gastronomic events of this area: the Sagra delle Fregnacce con la Persa. It usually takes place in August, with concerts, square dances and stands that attract tourists from all over Lazio.
On the southern extremities of the Sabine Mountains, 500 meters above sea level, we find Mompeo a small village surrounded by forest-covered mountains. The area is set in unspoiled nature within the Nazzano Tevere Farfa Regional Nature Reserve, where loops and canyons enrich the landscape. Here we find the Natural Monument of the “Farfa Gorges”. A true paradise for those who want to walk among picturesque paths or want to practice water sports such as canyoning or river trekking.
4. Fara in Sabina
Fara in Sabina is a small village of Longobard origin at 500 meters above sea level, offering a splendid view over Rome. Visiting this town you will be amazed at the enchanting view of abbeys, rocks, towers surrounded by centuries-old olive trees. Its historic center is a small jewel rich in history. Walking through the alleys you will come across the Civic Archaeological Museum, located in the Baronial Palace.
The seventeenth-century Church dedicated to St. James, the Benedictine Abbey of Farfa, the Monastery of the Clarisse hermits and the ruins of San Martino, which can be reached by a trekking route enveloped by nature, are excellent religious itineraries for those who want to discover what to see in Sabina.
5. Magliano Sabina
A truly evocative place where it is possible to observe a surrounding landscape dominated by the Cimini Mountains, the Sabine Mountains and the Tiber Valley. A tour in Magliano Sabina allows you to appreciate a rich artistic and historical heritage in which churches and noble palaces stand out. At the center of the village is the Piazza Garibaldi, following its alleys you will find the Palazzo Vannicelli, municipal seat, and the Civic Tower attached to the Bishop’s Palace. In the Piazza Duomo, on the other hand, the Church of San Liberatore, known as the Cathedral of the Sabines, stands out. Don’t forget to visit the fascinating protoromanic crypt, dating back to the 11th century, in the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie. For the little ones, the Civic Archaeological Museum, is the perfect place to admire the historical artifacts of the Sabine civilization.
Montasola is a small ancient village rich in history, perched on Mount San Pietro, formerly called Mount Asola, from which it derives its name. Surrounded by thick laurel forests, it is certainly one of the best-preserved villages in Sabina. At 600 meters above sea level, it is the ideal place to take refuge from the sultriness and summer heat of Rome. The historic center is entirely pedestrian, its narrow streets climbing concentrically up to above the fortress. The only bell tower, with the sound of its bells, awakens this town of only 400 inhabitants.
7. Poggio Mirteto
Poggio Mirteto offers annual festivals, folkloric events and traditional markets. An event not to be missed is obviously the “Sagra della Bruschetta”, a perfect opportunity to taste the famous olive oil produced in Sabina. This town is known for the Carnevalone Liberato, a traditional folkloric event, every first Sunday of Lent, which commemorates the events that happened in 1861, when the people of Poggio Mirteto freed themselves from the yoke of the Papal State with a town revolution. Also of interest are the Craft Fair, the Festival of the Padellaccia, and the Family Feast. Historical monuments include the Cathedral of the Assumption, the Church named after St. Rocco, the Clock Tower, the Convent of St. Valentine, and the Episcopal Palace. In the surroundings of Poggio Mirteto, it is possible to visit two villas dating back to the Roman period.
Among the magnificent forests and mountains of Sabina, lies Roccantica. The village has numerous churches and its medieval castle. Noted are its festivals, such as that of the Polenta grilled, in the winter period, and that of the Frittello, in March. Roccantica also offers folkloric events, such as the “Middle Ages in Feast”. Architectural works of a religious nature include the parish church dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta in cielo and the Clarisse Monastery.
9. Torri in Sabina
Regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in Lazio, Torri in Sabina is a perfect destination for getting to know the Sabina region. This medieval-looking village is a treasure trove of military and religious architecture as well as important archaeological sites. Its views, surrounding hills and landscape are also wonderful. The most important buildings are definitely the Church of Santa Maria in Vescovio and two military architectures: Rocchette and Rocchettine, settlements with a military character dating back to the 16th century. With a visit to Torri in Sabina, you will be able to admire one of the best known archaeological sites in this area, namely the Forum Novum, dating back to the Augustan era.
10. Palombara Sabina
At an altitude of 372 meters lies the village of Palombara Sabina, at the foot of Mount Zappi. Its origins are very ancient: the historic center dates back to the age of encastellation, with the inhabited area perched around the Savelli Castle, which now houses the Nature Museum. The town’s distinguishing feature is the so-called Wall of Relief, a fortified walkway that starts from the fortress. In the surrounding greenery, 3 km from the town, is the Abbey of San Giovanni in Argentella. Inside its crypt, water gushes forth that is believed to be therapeutic and miraculous.
Nerola, an ancient village not far from Rieti and Rome, offers visitors a fairy-tale setting: narrow alleys, unique views, stairways and fountains make this place unmissable and rich in history. In fact, the remains of a Roman villa, home of Nero the Emperor, have been found in Nerola. For festival enthusiasts, Nerola offers several festivals: gnocchi festival, wild boar festival, stracciose festival, arrosticini festival, and fried pizza festival. The best known is the polenta festival, with local sausages and snacks. There is no shortage of craft markets and stalls with local cold cuts and cheeses. The Orsini Castle, now converted into a hotel, restaurant and wedding venue, is definitely the main attraction.
This is a village wrapped in a still landscape, 500 meters above sea level with just over 250 inhabitants. Here silence and peace reign, accompanied by a breathtaking view, in fact it is called the “terrace of Sabina”. From this balcony you can see the Latium plain, the Cimini Mountains, the Soratte and on clear days even the city of Rome. Walking through the narrow streets you will reach the Parish Church of St. John the Evangelist, built in the 12th century on the ruins of the temple to the goddess Vacuna. The cult of the Sabine goddess Vacuna, from which the village takes its name, was introduced by Numa Pompilius. The deity was considered the protector of those who devoted themselves to the idleness of the countryside in order to invigorate their strength.
Mandatory stops include Vacone Castle and the Pago forest. Among the village festivals, the most significant is the Autumn Festival, which takes place at the end of October. Here you can rediscover the ancient flavors of this land by tasting the typical dishes such as: sausages, polenta, chestnuts, local wine, fregnacce alla sabinese, all surrounded by the magical Pago forest.
13. Poggio Catino
This is one of the wonderful villages of Sabina, boasting breathtaking views surrounded by greenery. It was born as an offshoot of the older, nearby center of Catino, both settlements of the Lombards. In fact, here you can admire the remains of the fortifications, castle and tower erected by the Lombard people. In its historic center you can visit the Church of Santa Maria dei Nobili and the Church dedicated to St. Augustine. Among the historical artifacts to see, you cannot miss the ancient Baths of Silla, dating back to the Roman period. Nearby, the Hermitage of San Michele, on Mount Tancia with its summit towering almost 1,300 meters, is worth a visit.
Rieti, the geographical center of Italy between the Sabine and Rieti Mountains, has been a touristically important place since ancient times. For a weekend, or for a rejuvenating vacation, this destination is really interesting. It is located in an area particularly rich in: castles, fortresses, Franciscan sanctuaries and protected natural oases. Among the places of interest are the Cathedral basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, inside which we find numerous sculptural works including those created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the Flavio Vespasiano Theater, the Bishop’s Palace and the Vincentini Palace.
At the foot of Mount Terminillo, Cittaducale is a small town brimming with history and art. The main characters are churches, ancient buildings, towers, walls and squares. The main one, is Piazza del Popolo surrounded by arcades. The history of this town is linked to the Angevins. It was founded in 1308 by Charles D’Anjou, who named it after his son, Duke Robert D’Anjou, hence the name. To this day the Angevins are still remembered with a whole month of celebrations called “Agosto Angioino”. The main activities include the Palio dei Quartieri, the Sagra delle Sagne alla Molenara, the Sagra del Pecorino, and the Sagra della Porchetta Civitese e dei Fegatelli. Among the main attractions is the Forestry Corps School, inside which is the historic Arms Museum.
Awarded the title of one of the “most beautiful villages in Italy” in 2016, Greccio is a place so unique that even St. Francis of Assisi was impressed. Here, in fact, the Saint gave life to the first nativity scene in history. In addition to the Sanctuary erected by St. Francis, you can also visit the Castle and the historic center with its 3 towers. The origins of the town are very ancient, dating back to the arrival of a colony from Greece. In the medieval period the town was fortified and today the ancient village is still intact. Among the religious sights to visit is the Church of St. Michael the Archangel.
17. Collalto Sabino
Located on the mountain of the same name, this village is also one of the most beautiful in Italy. It retains an ancient atmosphere that will take you back in time. The Baronial Castle is one of the most characteristic points of the village. Inside there is a large park with a full view overlooking Mount Terminillo. The village is a maze of narrow streets that lead up to the Piazza della Podesteria and the Palazzo Latini. Just outside the town is the Convent of Santa Maria, while the ruins of the ancient castle of Montagliano are another point of interest around the village.
What to do in Sabina?
The Sabina area satisfies every traveler’s taste. The are different things to do:
- Visit other amazing towns such as: Toffia, Cantalupo in Sabina, Stimigliano, Selci, Torricella in Sabina and Montelibretti, Monteleone Sabino, Montopoli di Sabina. All small towns that are worth visiting, if you are around Sabina.
- Various are the sports activities. For bike lovers, here in Fara in Sabina, the “Colli della Sabina” event takes place every year on April 25: a non-competitive mountain bike tour. There are many trekking routes, canyoning in the Farfa Gorges and rafting. If you love walking in the woods, truffle hunting and mushroom hunting are the ideal pastime if you don’t know what to do in Sabina.
- There are many cultural and religious itineraries such as the Abbey of Farfa, the Hermitage of San Leonardo and the caves of San Michele Arcangelo. Or nature itineraries to spend the day relaxing, also devoting oneself to photography.
- There are many activities for children such as underground Rieti, a special immersive itinerary in the underground of the city, or Greccio for its nativity scene or the archaeological museum of Fara in Sabina. If you are looking for an evocative experience, I suggest the Virginio Cesarini astronomical observatory in Frasso Sabino.
- For music lovers there is the “Fara Music Festival”, two months of jazz with the beautiful Farfa Abbey as the setting.
Local food and wine
The whole Sabina area is characterized by the production of typical local delicacies, which make all dishes delicious.
- The extra virgin oil Sabina PDO: very old extra virgin olive oil obtained from different varieties of olives, which the best known are Carboncella, Leccino, Raja and Rosciola. This EVOO has a fruity, sweet and aromatic smell and taste. It is good as a raw condiment on bruschetta, on meat and fish carpaccio or for vegetables in pinzimonio. Olive oil production in the Sabina area has a millennia-old tradition: in fact, it dates back to the 7th-6th centuries BC.
- Maccheroni a fezze, prepared only with water, eggs and flour: genuine and simple ingredients, typical of the peasant culture of this area. Products that are processed by the expert hands of housewives to create a unique dish. This recipe has been handed down from mother to daughter for many, many years: the dough is worked for a long time, and then formed into a single, long strand of dough that will be gathered into the skein (from the dialect name of “fezza”). Afterwards, it is cooked and seasoned with a pesto made with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and marjoram or with a mixed meat sauce.
- Sabinese chicken: tasty dish of local tradition. A free-range chicken seasoned with black olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, garlic and chili peppers. A rich and tasty dish thanks to its quality ingredients, typical of the Sabina area.
- Porchetta di Selci: a typical dish of this Sabine territory. Thanks to the presence of numerous forests and a predominantly hilly terrain, pig farming is widespread in Cottanello and Roccantica. This porchetta is also included in the T.A.P., the list of Traditional Agri-food Products, made by Arsial.
- Dorsetti alle Mandorle e ciambelline al vino: typical sweets you absolutely must try!
- Fregnacce alla sabinese: rustic and very tasty first course. This fresh homemade pasta can be found in all the villages of Sabina.
- There are two types of Colli della Sabina DOC wines:
_ Colli della Sabina Bianco DOC, from Malvasia and Trebbiano toscano grapes.
_ Colli della Sabina Rosso DOC, from Sangiovese and Montepulciano grapes.
Geologically speaking, the soil of the Sabina municipalities consist mainly of yellow, clayey sands. Thanks to them, we obtain these special wines.
Now that you know all about the villages of Sabina, we wish you a wonderful journey in this amazing land! Let me remind you that, with Italia Delight, you can book tailor-made food and wine experiences as well as foodie trips, designed and created by local Experts! 😍
Cover photo: gabriella-clare-marino-unsplash
Featured photo: gabriella-clare-marino-unsplash