Flying visit to another ancestral home

Arpino Travel Blog

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Home of Giuseppe Cesari

Our wedding anniversary

- 36 years and counting! We exchanged cards on getting up and then headed to our by-now accustomed breakfast spot of the Bar Sport where we took our time over our coffees and croissants.

Arco

There was one quarter of the town we had yet to explore, Arco, so that was the natural choice for our morning's walk. We left the piazza by via Giuseppe Cesari in the north west corner, next to the Tulliano. This passes the small Piazzale San Francesco X. M. Bianchi where we had eaten dinner on our second evening in town, so we stopped to get some photos of the statue of the saint who was born in Arpino in 1743 and went on to work with the poor of Naples, earning him the epithet, the ‘Apostle of Naples’.

Steps up to Arco

Next we passed the house where another famous Arpino resident once lived, Giuseppe Cesari, known as the Cavalier d’Arpino. The 17th century palace was partly pulled down when this entrance to the town was developed and widened, but much of it still stands and bears a stone inscription to the artist. 

Beyond Cesari’s former home the road widens further. This part of the town is known as Fuoriporta – ‘outside the gate’. The left-hand side of the road, now called viale Belvedere, overlooks the valley and the surrounding Lepini and Ernici mountains. We had already taken a lot of photos here, both on this visit and back in 1987, so we didn’t stop long today. 

A flight of stone steps to the right of the Belvedere leads to the church of Madonna della Grazie (which like San Andrea yesterday was disappointingly closed).

Porta dell'Arco
Like many of Arpino’s churches it was restored in the Baroque style in the time of the town’s greatest prosperity in the 18th century. 

Climbing further we arrived near a large 18th convent complex, dedicated to St Vincent de Paul – indeed, one of the nuns was collecting the daily newspaper from a mailbox near the top of the lane. The views up here were even better than those from the Belvedere as we had the church below us to add foreground interest to the shots.

We passed through the Porta dell'Arco, also known as the Porta Romana, as it faces north towards that city. This is a 1900 replacement of what was the most ancient of the town’s gates and the painting above it, of the Madonna and Child with the Cross, is a 2016 copy of a work from the late 18th century, the gift of a local family.

Typical building in Arco

Beyond the gate we were in the labyrinth of narrow lanes and passageways that make up the quarter. These still follow the medieval layout which developed from the ancient routes that linked this part of town to Civitavecchia above. Houses are perched wherever there is space, and the steps that lead to them often hewn out of the stone of the hillside.

We followed the main lane (you couldn't really call it a street), via Marco Agrippa, branching off here and there to explore little corners. I found this the most charming and photogenic of the different parts of Arpino that we explored over these few days. It is particularly rich in the sort of building details I take delight in photographing. Plus, we met a friendly little cat - always a bonus!

The road brought us out eventually at the top of the wide flight of steps, the Salita dell’Arco, that descends past San Michele Arcangelo to the piazza, which we had taken yesterday after exploring Colle.

Arco sign
Rather than take these again though, we carried on to the piazza Sant’Andrea in the hope that today we might find the church open. We didn't, but another friendly cat, this time black and white, made the extra walk more than worthwhile.

Eventually though we did head back to the main piazza where for the first time in several days we found the small tourist information office open. This gave us the chance to enquire about options to get to Santopadre, the much smaller town eight kilometres away which is where Chris's grandmother was born (though she lived in Arpino before emigrating to England with her parents as a young girl). We had thought that by now it might not be possible to go there on this trip, as our time in Arpino was already coming to an end, but the girl in the office told us there was a bus that afternoon at 14.

Chris at the War Memorial, Santopadre
20, returning at 15.15 - the last one of the day. That would only give us thirty minutes or so in Santopadre, but it's a small place and we would at least be able to revisit the church where Francesca was (according to Chris's mother on our first visit thirty years ago) baptised.

A visit to Santopadre

So we had some cold drinks and a snack back at the Bar Sport and then walked to the bus stop at the Belvedere a short distance away from the piazza. We had to wait a while as the bus was running late (or the girl in the office had mistaken the time) but at about 14.30 it appeared. We boarded, only to be told by the driver that we needed to have bought our tickets in advance at the bar next to the stop! Luckily he was willing to wait, and there were no other passengers to be made impatient by the delay, so Chris rushed off to buy them and we were on our way.

Typical architecture, Santopadre

The bus climbed steadily through the olive groves, with some wonderful views of the mountains and back towards Arpino. The journey took about fifteen minutes, and because of the later running of the bus and further delay while we bought tickets, we had less than twenty minutes in Santopadre before it would leave again on the return trip.

We hurried to check out the church but like those in Arpino that morning it was closed. At least though we had time to look again at the war memorial with the Quaglieri names, and to take a quick look at the picturesque lanes in the oldest part of the village.

Back at the bus stop we took a few photos of the rather spectacular view, and the waiting driver kindly offered to take our photo there. Then it was back on board for the drive back to Arpino.

Roman tomb, Arpino

Arriving back we decided to see if we could walk down from the Belvedere to the Roman tomb in the olive grove below. It proved rather a hot walk as there wasn't much shade, so halfway down I abandoned the attempt and stopped to take a few photos of my surroundings while Chris continued alone.

Popular tradition has it that Arpino was first founded by the god Saturn and that this is his tomb. You may not be surprised to learn that historians disagree! But it is Roman. Chris has kindly let me have one of the photos he took of the tomb to share with you all here.

After that little detour we decided to head back to the apartment to cool off and rest before our anniversary evening out.

We started that evening in our favourite Bar Sport in the piazza with aperitivi - Aperol Spritz (naturally) for me and a beer for Chris.

Arpino at night
Accompanying these this evening were some juicy olives as well as the usual peanuts and crisps.

For dinner we went to the smartest restaurant that central Arpino offers, the rather classy L'ottavo Vizio on the via Aquila Romana. This is in a lovely cellar room with modern furnishings and has a great menu - a lot of seafood but also classic pasta and meat dishes. The food and wine were excellent, and we had a great evening here to finish off our stay in Arpino. 


vicIII says:
Sarah, I do enjoy reading your narrations! Thanks for sharing!
Posted on: Sep 28, 2017
Toonsarah says:
Thanks so much Ils, I appreciate all your lovely comments :-)
Posted on: Sep 17, 2017
Ils1976 says:
talking about a super quick visit ... lucky you guys had a friendly driver ... again, nice read! :)
Posted on: Sep 17, 2017
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Home of Giuseppe Cesari
Home of Giuseppe Cesari
Steps up to Arco
Steps up to Arco
Porta dellArco
Porta dell'Arco
Typical building in Arco
Typical building in Arco
Arco sign
Arco sign
Chris at the War Memorial, Santopa…
Chris at the War Memorial, Santop…
Typical architecture, Santopadre
Typical architecture, Santopadre
Roman tomb, Arpino
Roman tomb, Arpino
Arpino at night
Arpino at night
Building detail, Arco
Building detail, Arco
Building detail, Arco
Building detail, Arco
Cat in Arco
Cat in Arco
Building detail, Arco
Building detail, Arco
Church in Santopadre
Church in Santopadre
Typical street, Santopadre
Typical street, Santopadre
View from Santopadre
View from Santopadre
View towards Arpino on the bus bac…
View towards Arpino on the bus ba…
In the olive grove
In the olive grove
Figs growing in the olive grove
Figs growing in the olive grove
Arpino Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Arpino’s best restaurant?
This restaurant is in a lovely cellar room on the via Aquila Romana. It has interesting modern furnishings and a great menu - a lot of seafood but als… read entire review
Arpino
photo by: Toonsarah