Hello outdoor lovers!
In this article we’ll look at another very popular hiking location in Rome – Antica Monterano, a ghost town located in the Monterano Regional Reserve. And since this is part of the "hike by train" series, we’ll take up the challenge to make our way there by train! It’s not too difficult and on the way we get to enjoy some small, pretty towns.
Antica MonteranoAntica Monterano: This once-thriving town was once home to a vibrant community before its inhabitants were forced to leave everything behind. The reasons varied, ranging from the invasion by the French to other compelling circumstances. As a result, the town was ultimately abandoned in 1799, earning the names “Antica Monterano” or “Monterano Vecchia” among locals. Despite its abandonment, Antica Monterano has not been forgotten. In fact, many Italians recognize this enigmatic place from its appearances in renowned films such as “Il Grillo Marchese” and various other cinematic works. The town’s captivating ruins have provided an evocative backdrop for these movies, making it a symbol of mystery and intrigue. Nature, too, has embraced Antica Monterano with open arms. Over the years, the abandoned town has become a sanctuary for thriving vegetation, as plants and vines have taken root amidst the decaying structures. This juxtaposition of life and decay adds to the surreal beauty that permeates the entire area.
What can you expect?Getting to the Reserve from the train station may require a longer walk, taking you through two charming towns. Although the initial stretch might have some traffic, the majority of the journey is a serene, fascinating, and enjoyable experience. As you traverse the Roman countryside, you’ll be treated to scenic views until you reach the reserve’s entrance, adorned with a picturesque waterfall and several enchanting sulphur springs. To reach Antica Monterano, you’ll need to ascend a path with a significant elevation gain, which shouldn’t be underestimated. However, once you arrive at the higher plateau, a captivating sight awaits you. The remnants of this ancient town stand as a testament to its rich history, inviting you to explore its intriguing stories. While passing through one of the two towns, you’ll find convenient bars where you can take a quick break. Once you enter the reserve, you’ll discover comfortable benches and a long table situated around Antica Monterano, offering the perfect spot to savor your lunch and soak in the ambiance of the surroundings.
- Ghost town of Antica Monterano
- Sulphur springs
- Old mine / cave
- Official difficulty scale: E
- Best period to visit: Generally all year round (but best avoided during summer as most of the trail is exposed to the sun)
- My difficulty assessment: Moderate (not particularily difficult, but physically demanding for people not hiking regularily)
- Elevation gain: 360m
- Elevation loss: 360m
- Type: Out-and-back
- Length: 12.7km
- Time: Approximately 4 hours
- Trail Quality: The trail is generally easy to walk on, with two towns to cross, then a country road, until entering the reserve – the trail is generally well-maintained at the time of writing
Some things to be aware of⚠️🌤️ This trail is highly exposed to the sun, so it is essential to bring extra water and avoid it during hot summer days to ensure your safety and comfort. ⚠️🏛️ Be mindful of the fact that this town is old, and there is real risk of pieces crumbling. I have seen folks walking on the remnants of the old aqueduct just to take a picture – which is not only highly dangerous and silly, but also puts other people at risk walking through the arch below them.
How to get there
By carGetting here is exactly the same like when you visit the Macchia Grande Forest: Also here, the exact direction will depend on where in Rome you’ll start your journey, but chances are that you’ll first have to get onto the highway (Grande Racordo Anulare) circling around Rome, to make it first onto one of the main roads in Northern Lazio (Via Cassia), switching onto Via Braccianese Claudia once you are in La Giustiniana. Drive until Bracciano, another charming town next to Lake Bracciano. From here, follow signs to Manziana. There is parking available right at the train station, but there are several other parking areas and opportunities to park your car closer to the forest (remember: parking lots with blue stripes on the ground usually mean it’s paid parking, white stripes on the ground usually mean it’s free parking).
By public transport
This experience is easily accessible by train from Rome. Trains are frequent and take about 1h 12 minutes (from Ostiense station), with fewer trains on Sundays. Most trains to Manziana-Canale Monterano (that’s the name of the station) will depart from Ostiense. That means that if you come from Termini or Tiburtina, you will need to switch over there, however in this case it probably is more convenient to switch trains at Trastevere station. Make sure to check the available departure times and connections on https://www.trenitalia.com.
ItineraryOnce the train departs from the station, you can easily cross the train tracks and exit the Manziana-Canale Monterano station. Ascend the steps ahead of you until you reach the charming town square, where a delightful cup of coffee awaits to kick-start your adventure! From the town square, follow the path of Corso Vittorio Emanuele until you reach a big intersection. Exercise caution while crossing, as the pedestrian crossing on the left side may be slightly faded (but still visible – kind of). Once safely across, continue on Via Canale. Look out for another pedestrian crossing on the right side, although it may be difficult to spot at the moment. Our ultimate destination is “Via della Costa,” a road that gently ascends a small hill. Pass by the church and the square, and proceed along Via Ronciglione. Take a left turn onto Via Viterbo and maintain a straight course. This stretch is a lengthy road, and as you progress, the traffic noise gradually diminishes, and the surrounding landscape begins to transform into serene countryside. Although scattered houses are still present, you will feel a growing sense of immersion in the natural beauty along the way.
Canale MonteranoAfter a longer walk, Via Viterbo turns into Via del Fico. We are now about to leave Manziana and are entering Canale Monterano! Keep walking straight until the road becomes Via C. Battisti, then Via dei Monti. Follow this road until we end up in front of the church of this town. Next to the church (entering the road on the left, Via Monterano, there is a bar – a perfect strategic stop before approaching the entrance of the Reserve! Follow Via Case Nuove, until it becomes Via Solfatara, and at the end of this road, turn right. After a few meters you will see a sign pointing left, towards the “Riserva Naturale Monterano”. Follow this road – it’s all straight and downhill from here; at the end of the road you’ll see the parking area and park entrance on the right side.
Entering the ReserveUpon entering the reserve you will hear the sound of the waterfall on your left side. We’ll leave this for our return and stay on this trail, until we get to the sulphur springs (which we can smell well before we get there). After marvelling at these volcanic, interesting formations, we keep going until we see the trail to Antica Monterano on the right side.
Antica MonteranoWe now have a steep walk up ahead of us. Be careful along the way – some of the steps are uneven and there are some metal pins that are supposedly there to help support some of the terrain, but they easily can turn into little traps. Just be mindful, take your time, take breaks and enjoy your surroundings as you walk up. Once you arrive at the upper plateau, enjoy walking around and into the old, ancient town of Monterano.
The waterfallWhen returning, we’ll add a little deviation next to the sulphur springs to spice things up – cross the wooden bridge and follow the beautiful forest trail – at the end you will end up in front of the waterfall we had heard when we entered the park. After that, it’s time to make our way back up to the park entrance and return the same way we got here. Antica Monterano – is it possible to get there by train? Yes! It takes a bit of preparation, planning and patience, but it’s worth it.
Happy hiking! 👋
Want to get more out of this hiking experience?
- Book a guided hike with a certified hiking guide, to enjoy this experience in safety and to learn more about the flora, fauna, and to discover some hidden gems along the way!
Reach out to learn about our private hike and group hike availabilities.
- Alternatively, purchase a self-guided hike for a highly detailed trail description, local tips, and everything you need to start exploring on your own safely and organized: Get in touch with us to learn more.