The Roman Sabine Hills, among Legend and Tradition…

Legends about ancient Rome tell the famous story of the Rape of the Sabines...
According to the legend, Romulus founded the city of Rome and prosperity and military strength were quick to follow. The new establishment soon became a force in a territory that was filled with different cultures and tribes. There was only one problem… Rome was a town of warriors and shepherds and there were hardly any women around! This menaced the survival of the city, but Romulus was quick to find an unconventional solution. He organized a great celebration, inviting the population of the Sabine Hills – the countryside surrounding the city of Rome- and in this occasion Roman men abducted the Sabine women to make them their wives. These marriages meant the merging of the Roman and Sabine populations and guaranteed the survival and prosperity of what was soon to become the Ancient Roman Empire!

The countryside surrounding Rome is still known as the Sabine Hills today. This little
visited region is very rich in history and tradition. It’s luxurious green hills are topped by steep medieval towns where the proud townspeople keep ancient traditions very much alive to this day. A beautiful and aromatic example of these is the yearly Infiorata that takes place at the town of Poggio Moiano. Why aromatic you might ask?

In this celebration, different groups rival to make the most beautiful composition of flower petals shaped in original and articulate images. There is a great deal of technique required and the townspeople prepare months in advance, going to the fields to pick beautiful and colorful flowers. They then dry the petals in a special way that preserves the color so as to derive a powder that they use to line the streets of the town with beautiful images. This ancient tradition creates a colorful path that exhales a rich floral aroma during the last weekend of June, it’s a truly remarkable sight! The weekend is spent eating local dishes and drinking Genziana, a local liquor made from medicinal roots that has a very strong and bitter taste. Sunday evening there is a religious procession that parades the town with music, walking over the beautiful flower paintings, perhaps to show that art, like life, is beautiful but ephemeral…

– Chiara Galli –

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