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Sant'Oreste and the Mount Soratte Reserve


The name of Sant’Oreste seems to derive from Edistus, a young Roman Christian, who was martyred in 68AD during the persecution of Nero. A church dedicated to him, with an elegant Romanesque bell-tower, was built in the place where the cemetery existed until the end of the ninth century.
After the fall of the Capenati in Rome, many Roman families built country houses in the area around Mt Soratte (worthy of note is the one that has come to light in the ‘Giardino’ inn). The old part of the village still contains some medieval remains in a mainly sixteenth-century urban context. Access is through three monumental gates built in the mid-sixteenth century when the walls were strengthened with ramparts. The urban development of the sixteenth century has left some large ‘palazzi’, including Palazzo Caccia-Canali (1589), which contains frescoes by Vignola and the famous boxwood cross of eastern origins, hand-carved with scenes from the old and new testaments (1546).

The Mount Soratte Reserve

Created in 1997, this reserve which covers an area of 444 hectares around Mt Soratte (691m above sea level) is a real ‘geotope’ due to its distinct morphology and karstic caves. Surface finds date human habitation here back to at least the mid-paleolithic era. A sacred place since ancient times, the summit of Mt Soratte was a centre for the cult of the god Soranus (later Apollo): remains of a temple can be seen in the crypt of the church of Saint Sebastian on the mountain top. In its present form the church probably dates back to the end of the twelfth century or beginning of the thirteenth century, the period from which the oldest frescoes date. (These are partly covered by later decoration from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries).
The practice of this cult continued for centuries, enriching the area with legends, convents and hermitages; these last have been partly restored and can be visited.
Large tracts of woodland full of copses, abandoned quarries and charcoal-making pits (some rebuilt for educational purposes) reflect the profound influence of human settlement in the area of Mount Soratte through the millennia.
The most important vegetation:
mixed deciduous and woodland. Characterised by maple and various kinds of oak, this woodland, associated with warmer climates, seems to dominate the middle level of the Soratte promontory which is dry due to the rapid draining away of surface rainwater through the numerous cracks in the limestone;
shrubs and wild grasses. On rocky ground at the highest altitudes this vegetation is, unfortunately, together with the underlying Mediterranean ‘maquis’ of the western slopes, frequently subject to fire
riverbank poplars and willows (remaining nuclei). Found at the lowest level on the eastern side, where numerous springs make this a much wetter part of the reserve;
pastureland, farmland for crops and trees, such as olive trees and vines,
The vegetation of the first two biotopes is enriched by the concentration of examples exclusive to Mediterranean flora, and although the number of rare and endemic species is small, these are of general interest, showing the area in question to be an important example for the biogeographical understanding of the whole calcareous antiappenine area of Lazio.
The maintained quality of the environment of Soratte has probably contributed to the preservation of several species of invertebrates, a list of which has still to be completed. Some of these (rhino beetle and stag beetle for example) are already classified as important for conservation.
The current knowledge about the animal life of the area, vertebrates alone, can be considered exhaustive.
These consist of 81 species, including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Several species are included in the EU Directive 92/43 (‘habitat’ ‘birds’) and in the Convention of Bern because of their conservation importance at a European level. 27 species are included in the list of vertebrates at risk of extinction in Italy.
A network of paths, provided with explanations and information, weave along the slopes of the mountain, allowing the visitor to reach the places which are most interesting from the historical and naturalistic point of view.

Ecoturismo Tevere Farfa Via della Vecchia Fornace, 00060 Nazzano, Roma (Rm), Italia
Tel: +39 0765/33.17.57 Fax: +39 0765/33.27.49 Cellulare: +39 329/62.50.597 email: info@pianopiano.info
Sito realizzato da exelab - www.exelab.eu

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