Returning from a track race in the town of Rieti, about a 1.5 hour drive from Rome, my son and I decided to stop off an explore the little medieval hilltown of Nerola.

Nerola sits on a hilltop 453 meters from sea level.

Its name is believed to be derived from the ancient Sabine language (a population conquered by the Ancient Romans. Anyone who has visited the European section of an art museum will have seen at least one version of The Rape of the Sabine Women) referring to strength or valor.

Nerola, Lazio, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

Construction on the town’s impressive castle began in the tenth century. It would eventually become part of the holdings of the Crescenzi family, and by the eleventh century had passed to the Orsini, who expanded the castle into the Orsini Castle you see today.

The castle and its surrounding town remained an important stopping point beyond medieval times, it would host pilgrims making their way to Rome and played a role in the Risorgimento, in support of Garibaldi’s troops.

Nerola, Lazio, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

Today the castle has been converted into a luxury hotel, complete with a swimming pool on the ramparts.

The town is tiny, but it boasts spectacular views to the olive groves below and the mountains surrounding the town.

I loved one of the town’s small squares, with its fountain and strategically located benches. Next time, I’lI tuck away a book and while away an afternoon at this picturesque spot.

Nerola, Lazio, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

This little town was a perfect discovery – and we’ll definitely be back to visit this medieval outpost once again.

Just too tempting to visit a place where time appears to have stood still.

Nerola, Lazio, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan
Nerola, Lazio, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan
Nerola, Lazio, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan