Rieti, the capital of the province of Rieti, and sister city to Ito, Japan, is a small town with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Due to its geographical location, it is considered to be the “navel” of Italy.
The town center is situated on top of a hill along the Velino River and offers beautiful vistas of the surrounding areas including the Ripasottile and Cantalice lakes. The city is surrounded by 13th-century walls and its most notable structures include the 12th-century Romanesque cathedral built over an existing basilica, the Palazzo Vescovile (Bishops Palace), the Bishop’s Arch (a bridge built by Pope Boniface VIII), the 13th-century church of St. Peter Martyr, the Gothic church of Sant’Agostino, the late Renaissance Palazzo Vecchiarelli and the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) which houses the town museum.
Before the Roman conquest in the late third century BC, Rieti was a major site of the Sabine nation. The Sabines were an Italic tribe that lived in the central Appennines of ancient Italy. Afterwards, the village became a strategic point in the early Italian road network that linked Rome to the Adriatic Sea. Today, Rieti is easily accessible by buses and trains departing from Rome. The town can also be reached by car using the Rome-Firenze highway. Getting around Rieti is relatively easy and stress free as the streets are free from traffic congestion. Most of the attractions are concentrated in just a few areas around town.
If you are an avid skier or mountaineer, you may already know that Rieti is close to Mount Terminillo, an active ski resort. It is also the town where American basketball player Joe Bryant played from 1984 to 1992. His son Kobe Bryant, also a NBA player, attended school in Rieti and as a result speaks fluent Italian to this day.
Rieti’s cultural life is very rich and there are a lot of artistic attractions. Together with the surrounding landscapes, Rieti and its province are among the main attractions of Central Italy.
Just nine miles northwest of Rieti near Umbria is the village of Labro with approximately 370 inhabitants. The village is characterized by stone houses and winding streets. Its focal point is an ex-Franciscan monastery that is run by the Colle di Costa hotel. Since April 2010, the hotel has shared the space with the Art Monastery Project, an international arts production organization which provides regular performances and exhibitions.
Labro and its surroundings offer an unique view of the untouched Italian countryside. The village is an ideal mix of nature, peace, genuine cooking, culture and antique traditions; a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Rome.