Calcata mediaeval village and artists haven near Rome, Italy

Vacation accommodation in Rome and the Roman countryside


Calcata, a former fortified mediaeval village and present day artists' enclave near Rome, Italy


Calcata is a heavily fortified village - effectively a large castle with houses built inside it - located in the Valle del Treja forest in the province of Viterbo, about 47 km north of Rome. When Calcata is approached by road from the direction of Mazzano Romano, the first impression is one of impregnability, of walls high above the sheer cliffs of the volcanic plug on which Calcata stands. And this impression is reinforced as one enters the village on foot through its huge mediaeval portal. Indeed, Calcata is regarded by many experts as the best-preserved mediaeval fortress in Italy. The portal has everything appropriate to mediaeval fortifications: multiple doors, a sharply turning entry passage, partly covered but with an open area for firing arrows, throwing rocks and pouring boiling oil down onto any unwanted visitors. Inside there is a small piazza in front of the church and several rings of lanes interconnected by passageways and a great many steps. Nowadays, there are sunny terraces overlooking the precipitious drop down to the forest and river below.

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Calcata main entrance
Main entrance passage

Calcata steps
Calcata stairway

Calcata passage
Calcata lane

In the 1930s, Calcata's historic centre was evacuated by the government for fear that the volcanic cliffs would collapse. The residents moved to nearby Calcata Nuova. However, in the 1960s, the old town began to be repopulated by artists and hippies, some of whom eventually purchased the buildings they had moved into. The government was persuaded to reverse its condemnation order, and the residents of what had become an artistic community began restoring the ancient town. This trend has continued so that today Calcata is inhabited largely by artists, musicians, aging hippies, vegetarians, crystal freaks and other New Agers. Calcata now houses a large number of small art galleries and artisanal workshops, many of them essentially subterranean, knick-knack shops and a few cafes and restaurants. Calcata is extremely popular with Romans who flock here on the weekends - indeed finding parking on the road outside is problematic on Saturdays and it is better to visit on a weekday. There is interesting art to be found, and many musical and other events take place here. Calcata is well worth a visit.

Click here for our Calcata photogallery

Calcata cafe
Calcata cafe

Calcata terrace
Calcata terrace

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Calcata view

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