Calcata is one of the most fascinating villages near Rome. The locals gave Calcata several nicknames like “artists’ town”, “witches’ town”, and “cats’ town”. I didn’t have the guts to verify about the witches, but the artists are real, and so are the cats gloriously sunbathing all day in the alleys of the “old Calcata”. Of all the amazing day-trips you could take from Rome, choose Calcata Vecchia if you’re in for visiting a community of “alternative people” that decided to live and perform their arts in a medieval castled town in the middle of nature. I’ll tell you some facts about Calcata, Italy, and how you can spend a day there.
A BIT OF HISTORY ABOUT CALCATA, ITALY
The first records mentioning “Calcata” belong to the 8th Century in the Middle Ages. The area has been inhabited since the Pre-Roman times, thanks to the presence of the River Treja. The ruins found across the Treja valley are ascribed to the “Falisci”, an ancient civilization that had so many things in common with the Etruscans. In the 13th Century, the powerful Anguillara family erected a castle on the main piazza of Calcata, while the church “Nome di Gesù” is from the 17th Century.
Starting from the 1960s, dozens of artists and free spirits from Italy and beyond flew to Calcata to seek refuge from the impelling industrialization developing in the world.
Today, Calcata isn’t an extreme place at all, it has nothing to do with squat culture. People have electricity and cars, but the atmosphere is different, the pace is slower. Calcata is one of the hidden gems in Italy that could make your trip more surprising and unique. Calcata and the tuff cliff the village emerges from will also remind you of Sorano and Pitigliano, two quaint villages in Southern Tuscany. Let’s find out what I usually do on a day-trip to Calcata, Italy!
HOW TO SPEND A DAY IN CALCATA
If you came here by private car, leave it at the open-air car park outside the village, as you see on the map. Start walking towards the old Calcata, which is the quaint hamlet hanging on a steep cliff you’ll have noticed on the way, it will take you 10 minutes to get there.
Familiarize yourself with the village of Calcata Vecchia
- As soon as you’ve entered Calcata, you will see that this is just like a different dimension. On a normal weekend, small groups of locals from nearby cities come here to hang out and chill. The heart of the village is the Piazza Umberto I with the church and the Anguillara Castle. There are three mysterious ancient throne-like chairs carved in the rock on one side, a few restaurants with outdoor tables, a bakery, and a pastry shop. You might want to have lunch in Calcata before you keep exploring the village
Eating in Calcata, Italy
Besides the typical food of Rome and Italy, in Calcata you’ll find local dishes made with genuine products from the Tuscia region. I’m talking about mushrooms, chestnuts, pecorino cheese, veggies, marmalades, wines, and any kind of bushmeat if you’re into it. Everything tastes more authentic and nourishing than in the city! Small villages near Rome are especially popular for homemade pasta and original pasta sauces. Try one of these restaurants in Calcata:
- Il Tugurio | Via Sinibaldi, 7
- La Piazzetta | Via San Giovanni 47
- La Latteria del Gatto Nero | at the crossroad between Via San Giovanni and Via Della Pietà
I advise you to leave room for the dessert! The “Sala Da Tè Calcata” in Via Tripoli 10 is a must-visit in Calcata Vecchia! The specialties of the house are tea and cake. You will sip your tea on the rooftop with a spectacular view on the lush valley surrounding the village.
Exploring Calcata Vecchia
There is so much to see in this hamlet if you love exploring tiny alleys and dreaming about how life could be in a secluded place like Calcata. Have your camera ready. Every corner and house you pass by is worth a photo: flower pots, outer walls with decoration, the locals… You will see how the houses blend with the thousand-year-old underlying stone. There are natural caves that became basements, cellars, or arts and crafts shops. There are breathtaking views from small, silent, terraces. You will hear the voice of the river flowing in the valley on the foot of the cliff. You will befriend the cats living the dolce vita in front of somebody’s door.
Calcata is first and foremost an artists’ town. You should visit the simple workshops and galleries and interact with the creators. They’re the beat of this fantastic place! Remember to take it slowly, don’t rush your visit.
This village has a message for everyone who is ready to listen. It isn’t just about the hippie movement. Calcata, because of its privileged position, had been chosen as a worship location, a huge natural altar, by the people who lived here in the prehistoric age. No wonder it has attracted artistic and esoteric personalities from all continents.
If you’re in for a bit of adventure, take a short drive to the scenic area “Valle Del Treja”.
Regional Park Valle Del Treja (perfect for families as well)
Not far from Calcata Vecchia lies the Regional Park Valle Del Treja. Along the banks of the River Treja, you’ll discover spaces to have a picnic, chill in the shade of the lush Mediterranean scrubs, and swim in front of a small but beautiful waterfall. There is a farm with a lot of animals you can visit with your kids, the owner offers meals or what you need to have your own bbq. If you want to hike in the area you’ll need hiking shoes, as the tracks aren’t maintained. Make sure to explore both banks of the river. The abandoned ancient mill is quite characteristic.
ACCOMMODATION – WHERE TO STAY IN CALCATA
The best accommodation option in Calcata is an apartment or B&B inside the old village so that you can experience the alternative vibes at any hour of the day. Imagine how quiet the nights are and how clear the morning air… Connect with some of these local renters:
- Calcata Diffusa | They prefer a phone call or a Whatsapp: 340-5052-322
- Federica’s apartments | firstname.lastname@example.org | 3289685249
- Red Vibes Farms | Pets allowed | Additional beds | Camping | email@example.com
- The artist room | Accommodation for alternative single travelers, couples, or dreamers | you can get in touch through their Facebook page.
- Association Il Granarone | 3 apartments available with private parking for weekends or short periods | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Casa ai Grotti | Bohemian apartment for rent | visit their page
- Gisa | Fully furnished apartments with kitchen | Phone call or Whatsapp: 3296958947
Now I feel a little bit jealous because I’ve shared this information with the world… What I’ve just told you about is one of my favorite places on Earth, and it’s close to Lake Bracciano, where I live. There is one more reason why I love to visit the village of Calcata, Italy: I go there to recharge and to reconnect with my own rhythm. All the tiny towns you’ll find on the way from Rome to Viterbo are picturesque and special, but Calcata’s got a certain je ne sais quoi. I often think I should spend more days time there and see if I can live long-term in a hamlet in the middle of nowhere. I’ve lived in two big cities, Rome and Xiamen, and now I live in a smaller town, Anguillara Sabazia. Where will the next move take me? Maybe it will be Calcata…
Let me know about your experience in Calcata Italy in the comments!