1053 metres above sea level, over 10.000 trees – many of which are 200 years old and 30 metres tall – in an area larger than 120 acres: here are a few numbers to help you understand what La Faggeta is like. Faggio means beech in Italian, therefore it is easy to guess which is the predominant type of tree to be found in this old-growth forest, only 10 miles away from Viterbo’s city centre.
The origins of the forest date back to the late Bronze Age, when a large fortification with a perimeter of about 50.000 square metres was built here. During archaeological excavations, ruins of Etruscan and Roman settlements were found, together with lots of crockery and ancient weapons which are all now exhibited at the Pigorini Museum in Rome. The Roman historian Titus Livius described La Faggeta as an impenetrable forest, so much so that it somehow managed to stop the troops of the General Quintus Fabius Rullianus back in the 4th century B.C.
From the Middle Ages up to the beginning of the 20th century, these woods were used by local farmers as pastures for pigs as they were mainly fed on beechnuts. Its naturalistic and touristic value was gradually acknowledged starting from the end of the 19th century.
La Faggeta: One forest, many surprises
Many are the tourists and locals alike that nowadays choose La Faggeta as their destination for a relaxing day trip. Besides enjoying the beautiful, bright greens that nature offers here, visitors are fascinated by the strange rocks that can be found wandering around the woods. Massive and rounded, these rocks are scattered everywhere: after thousands of years, they still witness that volcanic activity that characterized this area in ancient times.
One rock, in particular, stands out from the others: it is an enormous one (9x7 metres, over 3 metres tall) placed at the entrance of the forest as if to welcome the visitors. Despite its weight (an estimated 250 tons), it is possible to make it gently swing by exerting a little leverage at its base with a stick. Labelled as “a miracle of nature” by Pliny The Elder, the locals call it “sasso menicante” o “naticarello” (the trembling stone).
A day spent at La Faggeta will allow you to enjoy nature at its best: quietness, crisp air and the relaxing sound of the breeze blowing through the tree-tops. When to go? There is no ideal season really – or better – any season is indeed ideal, it just depends on what you like best. Its shaded trails are a great relief from the heat in the Summer, whereas the landscape in Winter is a truly mountain one. If you love hiking, the local CAI (Italian Alpine Club) has just opened the first official CAI trail in Viterbo’s area: 14 km starting from Poggio Nibbio – near Lake Vico – all the way to Soriano nel Cimino, going through La Faggeta.
Do not forget to pack your hiking shoes!