Calcata, atop a tuff mountain in the province of Viterbo, looks like a Neapolitan nativity from the 1700s. Its houses stand tall on vertiginous walls, like trees secure in their century-old roots. They look like a whispering gaggle of people, waiting for a much-awaited birth.
The village – now part of the Treja Valley Regional Park – has been inhabited since the II millennium BC. With its typical medieval structure, it was the manor of various important families, such as the Anguillaras – who built the town walls in the 13th century –, the Sinibaldis, and the Massimos.
In the beginning of the 1900s, after the terrible earthquake in Messina, Calcata was abandoned because its structure and location were thought to put it at risk, as parts of the tuff cliff often crumbled.
However, in the 1960s artists and intellectual started to move into Calcata’s reddish houses, which are now crowded with the studios of painters, sculptors and architects, including one of the first people to rediscover the village, Paolo Portoghesi.
And finally, in 1993, after careful geological surveys, this welcoming and evocative tuff nativity has been officially declared safe to live in.