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Truly a back door, especially for hikers: Rieti, Italy

I hesitate to share this city, but since I'm not Rick Steves, I don't think one trip report will ruin it.

Rieti is located in the mountains in eastern Lazio, almost in Abruzzo. It is an ancient city, inhabited by Sabines, then Romans. Emperor Vespasian was born nearby. Some of its medieval walls remain. Rieti claims to be the "belly button" (geographic center) of Italy, and has a plaque to prove it.

I love Rieti, I come back every year. There are very good restaurants, nice B&Bs, a couple of hotels. I arrived on Monday, in the rain, which continued for three days. But this is a working stop for me, so that didn't matter. Three changes of trains to get here from Viterbo, with five minute connections for most.

The Rieti station has walkways across the tracks, no underground passageways, which I appreciated after the multiple train changes. I bypassed my favorite chocolate shop on the corner of Piazza Oberdan and walked up the ramp to the main street, via Roma, and easily found my B&B (lots of stairs). The tour included the breakfast room, a do-it-yourself system (I never did get the coffee machine to work, even with the host's patient tutorial), so I had a reason to visit my favorite cafes every morning (one cappuccino is never enough).

I took advantage of the kitchen's fridge and went grocery shopping at the Tigre supermarket across the river - the duck population has grown since last summer. These are Italian ducks, so they do not form rows.

I ran some more errands: I got my phone reconnected, which wasn't as easy as it sounds, but Vodafone was running a special: €10 to connect plus €10 to activate at the edicola (newsstand) across the street, for 300 minutes, must be renewed every month for €10. Includes some internet time, but my phone is so old it doesn't have capability. Calls to the US are €1/minute.

My reason for being here is to do some research on an early Christian church in a nearby town. Like Rieti, it is located on the via Salaria, the old Roman salt road. It always makes me feel connected to history to stand in front of this church, Santa Maria extra Moenia, and see the via Salaria right next to it. The church was rebuilt in the Middle Ages and has a beautiful Romanesque bell tower. There is also a marker outside the church claiming to be the "Umbilicus Italiae".

Hikers love this area: it's very close to L'Aquila, the highest provincial capital city in the Appenines. Hikers and campers from all over the world come here. Fresh, flowing rivers, beautiful mountains (currently draped in fresh snow), and wonderful local foods. The water is so good that some restaurants serve it from the tap in carafes with tags saying exactly where it comes from. You may be discouraged, politely, from ordering bottled water here. Prices are very reasonable for meals.

Also of interest is the Rieti Sotteranneo tour, given by a local writer/historian, Rita Giovanelli. One of her books is available in English.

Posted by
167 posts

Thanks. This is actually the kind of location I am always looking for!

Posted by
604 posts

"These are Italian ducks, so they do not form rows." :-)

Thanks for this; we have put Rieti on the list!

Posted by
362 posts

Zoe, so much enjoy your reports, lovely descriptions, I can almost visualize being there. I'm sure you're not happy about having to go back for fall semester!

Posted by
11613 posts

Thanks, Susan.

I am not thinking about Fall semester until August 7 (when I leave Italy for this year).

Next stop: Ancona.