Discovering the center of Italy – in Rieti

Rieti, ItalyMy twelve-year-old son has been running since he was seven. This year, he decided to change coaches and teams.

Although he lives and trains in Rome, his competitive new team is from the northern Lazio town of Rieti. This is the northeastern tip of Lazio, extremely close to the regions of Umbria and Abruzzo.

In the photo to the right, you can see Rieti’s track with the snow-covered peak of Terminillo – Lazio’s ski mountain – in the distance.

Rieti, Lazio, ItalyOur first race in Rieti was a great opportunity to visit this picturesque, medieval town – and to visit the square Ancient Romans claimed marked the geographical center of Italy.

The town of a little less than 50,000 inhabitants was once home to the Sabine people, before being conquered by the Ancient Romans in 290 B.C.

After the Fall of Rome, the area saw many rulers: the Visgoths, the Logobards, and the Duke of Spoleto, before becoming part of the Pontifical State up until it was annexed to the Italian Kingdom in 1860.

Rieti, Lazio, ItalyIts long history is on display for visitors, with some remains of the Roman era, including the remains of a Roman bridge.

Most noteworthy are the wonderfully restored  medieval walls from the 1200s, still surrounding the town.

The most spectacular constructions com from this period in the 13th century, when Popes Innocenzo III, Onorio III, Gregorio IX, Niccolo’ IV and Bonifacio VIII spent significant time in this town and added to its prosperity and its spectacular architecture.

Rieti, Lazio, ItalyThe impressive Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was completed in 1225 built over over the lower basilica and crypt from 1157, which can still be visited today.

Rieti is a pleasant town to wander around, and we’re pleased we’ll have the excuse to visit often for races.

And yes, it’s also worth a visit to the town square (photo below) where you can stand on a  pedestal and say that you are in the geographical center of Italy… even if the Caput mundi is slightly farther south …

Enjoy your time in Rieti!

At the geographical center of Italy

Rieti, Lazio, Italy

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