Roman writer Eraldo Affinati has noted, “Arriving from Tivoli, San Gregorio da Sassola suddenly appears from behind a curve, on its tuff stone spur, with overhanging roofs and the whole village leaning over the void.”
San Gregorio di Sassola is at the foot of Mount Carella, in the province of Rome, and is made up of two separate original nuclei: a medieval one – with side streets branching out from a central Y-shaped axis – and a 17th-century one known as “Borgo Pio” – where the main street is flanked by residential settlements. The oldest part is built on a volcanic formation, the more recent one on the surrounding calcareous mountains.
“The pigeon and lead gray houses,” Affinati continues, “look like they want to step back, as if they were seeking protection from the ancient castle with a shiver.”
The castle – precisely at the bifurcation of the Y we mentioned above – is the Brancaccio, built in the 10th century and decorated, among other works of art, with frescoes by mannerist painter Federico Zuccari.
The beautiful Lazio village is located only a few kilometers from Tivoli, the ancient Roman city of Tibur offering unique wonders such as Villa d’Este and Villa Adriana (Unesco World Heritage sites).
San Gregorio da Sassola, Affinati concludes, “is a giant freighter, stranded in the mountains. From the side, the gray walls become silver sails, ready to take off. Perhaps, one day this old medieval settlement will really turn into a hot air balloon of windows and doors, crosses and steeples” (translated from E. Affinati, “Diario”, in “Nuovi Argomenti, May 2013).
Let’s take off!