This is a photo diary of my recent visit to the Basilica di Sant Elia in central Italy. The Basilica is an outstanding example of Romanesque art, sculpture, and architecture. It’s located in the archeological and natural area known as “Tuscia”, which encloses dozens of villages in the region between Rome and Viterbo. The visit to the Basilica di Sant’Elia was part of a spectacular day hike from the town of Nepi to the village of Castel Sant’Elia through the pilgrimage route Via Amerina. Both places deserve attention and can be explored in one day or two.
Let’s dive into all the things I appreciated about this excursion. I’ll share the best photos I took that day.
WHERE IS THE BASILICA DI SANT’ ELIA LOCATED?
The Basilica lies in the middle of the scenic Suppentonia Valley. The valley consists in a narrow stripe of land crossed by a river and surrounded by cliffs high over 100 mt. The photo below was taken near the old gate to the village of Sant’Elia: it shows the panoramic view from the top of the cliff on the side where lies the basilica. As well as many other towns you can visit on a day trip from Rome, Castel Sant’Elia rises on a tuff cliff.
Shall you visit the Basilica di Sant’Elia?
Definitely. The natural setting is idyllic, it will take you a while to get used to this quiet facade of Lazio, which is stuck in the Middle Ages. This is a way to explore Italy off the beaten path. You can even park a few steps from the basilica, the place is usually empty. The ticket for the visit costs €5. The Basilica is one of the most beautiful Romanesque buildings in Italy. It was founded in the 8th Century and soon became important. The first interesting feature is the portal, which has the same iconographic style of the portal of the Duomo di Sovana in southern Tuscany. Mysterious human and animal figures, caught in the spirals of the decoration. Someone is about to be eaten up by a serpent. Much of the painting in the interior is entire.
Check out the ciborium and the frescoes in the apsis. The underground level holds the tomb of St. Anastasio and St. Nonnoso.
The Basilica di Sant Elia: best example of Romanesque art in Lazio
If you like the Basilica di Sant’ Elia and Romanesque Architecture in general, make sure to visit the Duomo di Sovana in Southern Tuscany.
Let me know in the comments if you plan on visiting the Basilica di Sant’ Elia, the best-kept example of Romanesque art in Lazio!