MONTE SANTA MARIA TIBERINA (M.S.M) – 12 minutes drive from La Buia.
Looking out southeasterly from La Buia, this small hilltop town glints in the distance like a beacon. An ancient place which the locals just call ‘Monte‘, Monte Santa Maria Tiberina sits loftily at an altitude of 688 meters, providing a breathtaking viewpoint over the surrounding valleys and the Tiber Valley.
From miles around you can always tell your whereabouts if you look for Monte Santa Maria Tiberina, sticking up out of the undulating countryside, holding up the mass of azure sky above.
Exuding its medieval heritage, Monte Santa Maria transports you back to an antique world just by gazing up at it from afar. In the winter months Monte feels as if it is completely deserted as one wanders the shiny cobbled narrow streets, en route to Oscari’s bar/ristorante for a pipping espresso and a brioche, but then a womans voice rings out from an upstair window over the roof tops; “Giovana? Cosa stai faccendo??”
“When locals want to prove their point that something was very difficult, they say “come la strada per Monte Santa Maria (Like the road to Monte..)”.
Inside the closely grouped together stone houses, grandmothers guarding their young grandchildren while their parents are at work, busy themselves making chestnut and rosemary bread or a jam crostata, hopeful of their husbands bringing home a basket of porcini mushrooms and maybe a black truffle or two, both of which are found in the beautiful surrounding woodlands that are lovingly farmed so they remain intact for future generations.
This jewel in the crown of Italian hill towns, where the views that stretch down the entire Tiber Valley and on a clear reveal the Apuan Alps, are unforgettable. Monte dates back to Etruscan times and rose on the right bank of the Tiber River, promoting commercial exchanges with the Umbrians. In the last century bronze deposits were discovered in nearby Trestina, proving that there must have been a foundry that made tools, armoury and weapons, statue castings even, in bronze. Monte was fortified in XI century but in 1198 the castle was destroyed by Pope Innocence III.
You have to realise that Popes back then and right up to the Renaissance and after, got out of their papal beds in the morning with the idea of going off with their army to fight some rival area of Italy. Money always seemed to be at the root of these battles, that and fending off some threatening advance on Rome.
The accounts of these very bloody conflicts sound exhausting, as they seemed to have been a regular event, all in the name of power, and they cost a fortune! The mountains of ducats spent from the Papal coffers. Monte remained independant, existing in it’s own little principality until 1859, when it was conquered by Duke Ferdinand of Tuscany, who took possession of it in 1815, breaking the 1000 year rule of the Bourbon’s of Monte; the Marquises that ruled it, making it part of the Kingdom of Italy.
In medieval times, duels were waged to the death and Monte Santa Maria Tiberina became famed throughout Italy for these dueling contests.
Where to eat?
|Pizzeria||OSCARI, Via Roma 25, Monte Santa Maria Tiberina. Tel.075-8571023|
|Restaurant, Pizzeria||IL PALAZZETTO DEL MONTE, Voc.Palazzetto 11, Monte Santa Maria Tiberina. Tel.075-8571027|
Festas & Sagras
There are still festas held here during the year:
- The Silvana Feast in November
- Roast Suckling Pig Feast in August
- Patron Saint Day – Maria SS Assunta, where there is a market and local food on sale – August 15th.
- Festa d’Autunno (Autumn Festival) – in Mid-October, with medieval costumes, sword fighting and food & drink.
Hiking, Biking & Horsetrekking
Hiking trails are numerous as are horse back tracks from which you can also study the impressive flight of Kestrels and Buzzards.
You can read our blog post ‘Cycling in the Valtiberina‘ for more information on cycling.