Faggeta Vetusta on Mount Cimino

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

This Mount is the highest point (3454 ft) of a range of densely wooded volcanic hills, approximately 35 miles north-west of Rome. They are situated in the center of Tuscia Viterbese. The Mount overlooks the village of Soriano, where a wonderful beech tree woods stretches for some 143 acres, between 1.968 ft and 3.454 ft.
This very wood (Faggetta Vetusta namely meaning “ancient beech tree wood”), included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2017, has impressive trees reaching up to 164 ft.
It’s definitely worth visiting throughout the year, with a thick network of walking, horse riding, and biking trails.
The Viterbo section of the C.A.I. (Italian Alpine Club) has recently endorsed its very first trail through this wood, running for some 9 miles from Poggio Nibbio – near Lake Vico – to Soriano nel Cimino.

This wood is rich of “domi”, conical masses of magma surmounted by large rounded boulders, residues of volcanic activity dating back to 1.350.000 years ago. It was the time when volcanic tuff (Peperino) appeared abundant – the very same building material which has been used in these valleys ever since ancient times.

Faggetta Vetusta was already inhabited in the Late Bronze Age (around 1.150 BC), when it used to host an important settlement whose vast fortified area is still quite visible; they were identified around 1890, but scientific exploration actually began only in 1976.

In ancient Roman times, Tito Livio acknowledged the wood (also known as “Cimin Forest”) as impenetrable, since it proved able to stop the progress of Quinto Fabio Rulliano’s legions towards Etruscan territories, at the end of the IV Century.

Throughout the Middle Ages, and until the early 1900s, Monte Cimino beech forest was used as a pasture for pigs, for collecting beechnuts (the fruits of phages), and for feeding animals. It has been recognized as great sightseeing and tourist destination since 1800.

Leaving the summit (3454 ft), and descending to heights between 3.916 ft and 1.968 ft, the beech forest (Fagus sylvatica), on Monte Palanzana and Monte Fogliano, hosts chestnuts (Castanea sativa), Turkey oaks (Quercus cerris), black hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia), and white hornbeam (Carpinus betulus).
Needless to say, shrubs and flowers grow only in the areas where sunlight penetrates the thick foliage.

The local fauna is rich with specimens of hare, wild boar, hedgehog, dormouse, wild cat, green and red woodpeckers, and some small diurnal birds of prey. The latter are mainly sparrowhawks, goshawks, buzzards, and kestrels (on the volcanic rock walls), capable of hunting through the thick wood.
There are also several nocturnal birds of prey, such as common owls, scops owls, barn owls, and tawny owls.

Faggetta Vetusta was the set of some famous films, including Mario Monicelli’s “Il Marchese del Grillo” (1981).

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


Soriano nel Cimino, Monte Cimino - Viterbo(VT)

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