Velletri is an amazing city located a few kilometers away from Rome. Discover with us the amazing things to see, the events and the great cuisine.
A few kilometers south of Rome, in the area nestled between the Castelli Romani and Agro Pontino, lies the beautiful town of Velletri.
Why is this town so famous and really should not be missing from your itineraries?
Essentially for two reasons (although later in the article you will find out much more). For one thing, the City of the Volsci, as it is often called, has a really rich history. And yes, all cities in Italy have a rich history, but Velletri particularly so. And on the other, for its immense cultural heritage.
Keep reading to discover what we are talking about!
Discover more about Velletri❯
Velletri, Italy: the splendid city at the foot of the Colli Albani
At the foot of the Alban Hills, at an elevation of just over 300 meters above sea level, stands the Italian city of Velletri, a key place well before Roman times.
In fact, it seems that the name itself, Velletri, derives from an Etruscan expression that meant "place where one cultivates". And you will see what gastronomic goodness cultivated here this place is still known for reading through the article!
Anyway, the village of the Veliterni, or Velletrani, as the inhabitants of Velletri are called today, was in the hands of the Volscians. This was a very proud population that clashed several times with the ancient Romans, even at the time of the legendary King Anco Marzio. At the end of the war, Velletri was punished by the demolition of its ancient walls. Since then, the citizens have lived quietly under the dependence of Rome.
In the following centuries, the city became an independent place: even in the 15th century, when it was conquered by the King of Naples. This independence, however, is destined to end in the sixteenth century, after the famous Sack of Rome.
In the nineteenth century, the Rome-Velletri railroad, one of the first in Italy, is built here, and this contributes not a little to the growth of the town.
And did we not tell you that the first modernly conceived Italian banking institution, the Cassa di Risparmio di Velletri, was established here. That was in 1885.
After this overview of history, we just have to explore the center of this extraordinary city!
What to see in Velletri
The Athena of Velletri is a type of statue from Greek times. You can see in the picture the most important example found near Velletri.
The city of Velletri is quite large with just over 50,000 inhabitants. The area of the historic center, however, is fairly confined around Corso della Repubblica.
For this reason, you will be able to easily reach and visit most of the most important places on foot.
Here is what to see in Velletri.
The Church of Santa Maria del Trivio and its tower
Among the things to see in Velletri are the Church of Santa Maria del Trivio and its Tower.
The Tower is actually a Lombard Gothic-style bell tower that received the appellation "Trivio" because, like the church, it is located at the confluence of 3 streets.
The tower is 14th-century and was once attached to the church. Today, however, they are configured as two separate buildings. The church is the most recent construction. In fact, because of its state, its reconstruction was ordered in the seventeenth century. Unfortunately, the damage caused by the bombing of World War II required a new intervention in the twentieth century.
The Cathedral of San Clemente
When we talked about the history of this place, we did not tell you that according to legend Velletri was evangelized by Pope Clement I. To pay homage to this figure, Clement was chosen as the patron saint of the city, celebrated on November 23.
The church is very old and, for this reason, has been remodeled and restored several times over time.
Today it is in the Renaissance and Baroque style, but still retains older elements, including the crypt, frescoes and apse.
The Neapolitan Gate
After being demolished by the Romans, the city walls of Velletri were rebuilt in the Middle Ages. At one time, 6 gates opened between these walls, later reduced to 3 in the 16th century.
Well, of these 3 gates only one survives. The Neapolitan Gate (Porta Napoletana), preserved almost intact, is located along the Appian Way.
The church of San Martino
We are located within walking distance of the Neapolitan Gate. The Church of San Martino is in neoclassical style with a totally symmetrical facade. Making it distinctive is a prothyrum with 4 columns.
Inside is preserved the painting of Our Lady of Peace dating back to the 14th century.
The Church of San Salvatore
The Church of San Salvatore stands out for the linearity of its architecture and its warm colors.
In addition, another prominent feature is its bell tower, which, on the other hand, is in a totally different style: made of brick, it has 4 distinct and vertical sections.
The Diocesan Museum of Velletri
Right next to the Cathedral of St. Clement is the Diocesan Museum of Velletri, housed in the former seminary complex.
Why come here? First of all, to admire the cloister. Also, to look at the various collections that are housed here and testify to the city's key role over the centuries. You will also be able to see countless liturgical objects, sacred vestments, paintings and even the reliquary bust of St. Clement.
The House Museum of Ugo Tognazzi
Actor, writer and director, Ugo Tognazzi has deeply marked the history of Velletri. And it was in this town that he decided to establish in the 1960s the so-called Casa Vecchia, which now lives as a house museum.
It is located within La Tognazza, a small oasis among olive trees and vineyards which produce a truly excellent wine.
The Oratory of Santa Maria del Sangue
This place is at the center of a miraculous event that is reflected in the very name of the Oratory ("Sangue" means "blood" in Italian). In the 16th century, in fact, it is reported that the miracle of tears of blood from an image of Mary posted in a nearby house occurred here.
At the end of the century the octagonal oratory was built, and the miraculous image was placed inside.
The former Convent of Carmine: Velletri's House of Cultures and Music
The former Carmelite Convent dates back to the 17th century and presents itself to the eye as a building with essential architecture, according to the Carmelite approach.
Around the quadrangular cloister, the entire building, built on several floors, develops. During your visit, you will also notice what remains of a beautiful cycle of frescoes that unfortunately the passage of time has made faded.
Today, however, this former convent has once again taken center stage in the lives of Veliternians. The premises of the former convent, in fact, are now part of the House of Cultures and Music, a splendid place for meetings and events.
The Pilgrim's Garden
Just as the name implies, the Pilgrim's Garden (Orto del Pellegrino, in Italian) is a place where medicinal herbs that were used to cure pilgrims were collected.
In fact, Velletri is a crucial junction of the Via Francigena, which led from Canterbury to Rome.
Today it is possible to admire the reclaimed green spaces that are often used as educational workshops by schools.
Things to do in Velletri
Velletri is one of those cities to be experienced and not just visited.
Its soul is closely connected with its past and with the territory that surrounds it. Here, then, numerous events flourish throughout the year that celebrate its rich heritage.
For example, the patronal festival, dedicated to San Clemente. On November 23 each year, the city center comes alive with stalls, performances and stands selling lots and lots of food.
To start the autumn in a true festive mood, however, there is also the Grape and Wine Festival (Festa dell'Uva e del Vino). This is one of the most important festivals in the Castelli Romani area and is celebrated on the last weekend of September. In addition to being able to wander freely among the stands and stalls, you can visit a town completely covered in juicy, fragrant bunches of grapes.
Spring, on the other hand, is the occasion to celebrate camellias, white, pink and red. The Camellia Festival is held between late March and late April and is the perfect occasion for everyone who loves plants and gardening. And not only that. In fact, this festival is also a time full of cultural events, exhibitions and tastings of typical local products (which we will see in a moment).
Finally, a festival with an exquisite local flavor is the Artichoke Festival, held in late April. The festival is actually called Carciofi alla Matticella, and takes its name from the local recipe of the same name (and delicious). Lots of good artichokes, garlic and a lot of oil. But strictly from the mill and the latest harvest. In short, a treat that strikes not only the palate but also the sense of smell!
And now, tickled by the festivities dedicated to Veliterna gastronomy, we can't help but tell you about all the typical products you can eat here!
What to eat
To tell you what to eat in Velletri would probably require a separate article.
We have already mentioned matticella artichokes. When peasants cleaned up the vineyards, they arranged the harvested branches in bundles, which were called "matticelle." At the edge of each vineyard, artichokes were also grown, which were then barbecued (with plenty of garlic, as mentioned), giving off a truly intoxicating aroma.
Not only artichokes, however.
Also typical of this area is a soup with a very strong flavor, made with black cabbage, salt cod and potatoes.
Then there are first courses of all kinds, from carbonara to fettuccine alla velletrana (with cherry tomatoes and garlic), bean soups, tagliatelle with wild boar ragout, and tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms.
Main courses include barbecued meat and abbacchio, the suckling lamb.
Unmissable is the pizza, thin and crispy, as the Roman tradition requires.
And the wines? Well, the local wine tradition also dates back to Roman times and produces some Italian excellence. Velletri DOC wine is in fact white, superior white, red, reserve red and sparkling.
Speaking of local products, finally, we cannot fail to mention the extra virgin olive oil of Velletri. Delicate and a bit fruity, Veliterno oil is delicious, of high quality and to be bought in local oil mills.
In short, a little bread and a little oil and your taste buds will have learned the recipe for happiness.
Where Velletri is located
Velletri, RM, Italy
Velletri is located in Lazio, in the province of Rome (be careful not to confuse the town with Vietri sul Mare, which is in the province of Salerno, Campania!).
The city lies south of the capital, on the edge of the beautiful Castelli Romani area, between Agro Pontino and Colli Albani.
For this reason, Velletri becomes the perfect gateway to numerous attractions to visit in the surrounding area. Aprilia and Valmontone, for example, are not far away.
Or, you might consider delving into the Castelli area and discovering exceptional gems such as Frascati and Rocca di Papa (and more!).
How to get there
Getting to Velletri from Rome is quite easy, even by public transportation. We certainly suggest that you take the train at Roma Termini and get off at Velletri: the journey takes about an hour.
Alternatively, you can take the bus from Anagnina. On the one hand, the Velletri bus station is closer to the center. On the other hand, however, the bus ride time is longer depending on traffic.
Have we intrigued you? You can find more information about events and proposals in Velletri on the municipality's official website.