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Tom Weber: Sutri
A Canterbury Trail
Story and photos by Tom Weber

view of Sutri showing the Cathedral of Santa Maria Asunta, Lazio, Italy
View of the City of Sutri with Cathedral; Lazio, Italy. Photo courtesy Ulrich Mayring and in the public domain via Wikipedia

ising above Via Cassia – an important consular road back in the days of the Roman Empire – just about midway between the Eternal City and Viterbo, sits the impressive and ancient hill town of Sutri.

Noted for its precious archeological finds covering the Bronze, Etruscan, Roman and Middle Ages, Sutri waves the orange flag of the Italian Touring Club, symbolic of the town's high-quality, environmentally sound tourism. It goes without saying that Sutri's treasure trove of priceless antiquities is the major draw for this community of 5,000 residents.

Courtyard of the Palazzo del Commune, Sutri, Lazio, Italy
Courtyard of the Palazzo del Commune, Sutri, Lazio, Italy

With a documented history of over 2,500 years, Sutrium, as it was originally called, includes from its past: an excavated Roman amphitheatre; an Etruscan necropolis with dozens of rock-cut tombs; a Mithraeum – a secretive place of worship for practitioners of the ancient Persian-based mystery religion of Mithraism; the Church of the Madonna del Parto, cut into the cliff rock and utilizing one of the many Etruscan tombs; and, the ornate Romanesque Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.

map of the Via Francigena pilgrimage route
Map of the Via Francigena pilgrimage route.
Photo courtesy the EU Cultural Council.

Not to be overlooked, Sutri was also a popular rest stop during the Middle Ages for millions of sandal-clad religious pilgrims making their way from up north to the Holy See in the south along the Via Francigena (the road from France) – the Italian portion of a series of roads and trails that actually stretched from far-away Canterbury in England, across the Channel into France, over to Switzerland, and eventually into Italy and down to Rome.

Truly, Via Francigena gives credence to the age-old saying, "All roads lead to Rome."

a fountain at the Piazza del Commune, Sutri, Lazio, Italy

In 994 AD, Sigeric the Serious, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, documented all 80 stages of his 1,700 km (1,100 mi) return trip from his pilgrimage to the Holy See. It was Sutri that served as the Archbishop's third stage rest stop along the Via Francigena route back home to Canterbury – no doubt a winding and arduous journey with many a tale told along the way to pass the time.

main clock tower and pedestrian passageway in Piazza del Commune, Sutri, Lazio, Italy
Main clock tower and pedestrian passageway in Piazza del Commune,
Sutri, Lazio, Italy

Like that popular U.S. discount motel chain, Sutri, back in its heyday, probably "left the lantern on" for those countless groups of pilgrims needing a comfortable place to stay along Via Francigena.

If You Go

passageway into Piazza del Commune, Sutri, Lazio, Italy
Passageway into Piazza del Commune

To plan your own pilgrimage walk, ride or drive along Via Francigena, or to investigate further this famous trail, just log on to the following English language site:
http://www.viefrancigene.org/en/

For complete, up-to-date tourist information and events planned in and around Sutri, visit the local tourist office – sorry, only in Italian – the Sutri Proloco Association at: http://www.prolocosutri.it/web/index.php?lng=it

the La Taverna near the Piazza del Commune, Sutri
Under the canopies, Trattoria La Taverna

Recommended dining at La Taverna, just off Piazza del Commune at 1 Via San Francesco, tel. +39 0761-600131. An open-hearth grill greets you as soon as you enter this elegant little trattoria indicating grilled meats are the house specialties, and they are. Open with the local favorite, porcini mushroom soup with bruschetta, followed by a choice of grilled beef, pork, chicken, veal or lamb, or a sampler of all the meats and poultry. An array of fixed priced, three-course lunches, including wine, mineral water and caffe' cost approximately 20 euro each ($26 USD). La Taverna is closed on Mondays.

Related Articles:
Civita di Bagnoregio; Vicenza: The City of Palladio; Basilica Palladiana; Riviera di Ulisse; The Little Village Atop the Hill (Castelluccio di Norcia); Norcia, Umbria; Cape of Circeo, Italy; Piovene Rocchette, Italy; Northern Italy; Tuscany;


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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

* * * * *

Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

* * * *

Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

* * * *

Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

* * * *

Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

* * * *

I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: http://www.compagniadeicammini.it/en/. Thanks for stopping by and commenting..

Tom

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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal


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