What to see in Calcata Italy? Calcata is a quaint village I visited last July with my husband Matteo during a road trip across central Italy. It is located in the Lazio region, 1 hour by car both from Viterbo (north-west of Calcata) and Rome (south-west of Calcata), and also 1 hour from the southern province of Umbria, Terni. To see it on the map go to the bottom of this article.
The sight of the village is surprising since it is built on the edge of a tufa boulder, dominating the Treja river valley and surrounded by woods, similarly to Pitigliano in Tuscany.
Artists, hippies… and witches
Starting from the 1930s, Calcata was gradually abandoned by its inhabitants on safety grounds. A new village was built 10 minutes away, Calcata Nuova. In the 1960s a bunch of artists, intellectuals, creatives, writers, and artisans, both from Italy and abroad, discovered the village and chose it as their residence, or as the place to open shops and workshops. Now about 70 people live there.
According to some ancient beliefs, from the subsoil of Calcata comes primeval energies, that fed stories related to occultism and witches. Actually, below the level of the ground floor, many houses often hide deep, once used as cellars or… tombs.
Calcata was the set for several movies: Amici miei, La mazzetta with Nino Manfredi and Ugo Tognazzi, Nostalghia bt Tarkovskij.
Thanks to Instagram, the village now joins a revival and is a nice destination for a Sunday day-trip off the beaten track.
Visiting Calcata is like traveling back in time. There’s no signal whatsoever inside the village. So enjoy the atmosphere, take photos and relax.
What to see in Calcata Italy
When Matteo and I were along the footpath on our way down to Calcata, we were a bit puzzled. It was 11 am on a Tuesday and no one was around. It looked like a ghost town. The houses were not tidy and pretty, but rather unkempt and quite decadent.
So we thought: Oh my, why did we came here? But… once you reach the entrance door of the village and you go past it… you get caught by the charm of Calcata Vecchia. OK, I’m biased because the first alley I bumped into was the most beautiful of all the village, at least in my opinion. But also yours, actually… you liked that picture very much on Instagram!
The church and the castle
On the main square, you can see the church del Santissimo Nome di Gesù, Holy Name of Jesus, and the Castle of the Anguillara with its tower. The Church dates back to 1400 but was restored at the end of 1700. It was closed on the day I visited the village. The castle once housed the Elementary School, the Medical Clinic and the Post Office. Plus, its boardroom hosted the wedding banquets of all the citizens for generations.
These are basically the only two real landmarks here. But the best part of Calcata is the labyrinth of narrow alleys, tiny squares, arcades that lead to the edge of the cliff.
Among the main attractions of the village, there are workshops of the artists, often housed in caves carved into the tufa. We bought a ceramic magnet in one of these shops, and we also had the chance to see one of the deep cellars underground.
Room of the 201 teas
As usual, we visited Calcata around noon, so the tea room was not open yet. But… if you’re tea lovers you’ll like the place. The name, Sala dei 201 tè, is true: you can choose among dozens of different varieties of tea. The landlady came here from Belgium bringing with here a collection of teapots and recreating a delightful little place with a panoramic terrace.
Museum of Rural Life
The Museo della Civiltà Contadina (free admission) houses about 500 instruments, used both in domestic life and in the countryside of the Viterbo area. It is located inside the deconsecrated church of San Giovanni Decollato, in a square close to the main piazza.
Where to eat in Calcata: La Piazzetta
Matteo and I chose to have lunch at La Piazzetta, a picturesque trattoria (right in front of the museum) run by a seemingly gruff but kind and funny man, nicknamed Lo Stracco, the Weary. They use several Slow Food ingredients, like veggies, extra virgin olive oil, homemade pasta. The menu is not that easy to understand because it is written in Lazio dialect.
I strongly suggest you order what I had: bruschette as antipasto and Tringozzi (a pasta homemade by them with 3 different kinds of flour), and as sauce Gricia (pecorino cheese and guanciale, cheek lard). The pasta was quite al dente but delicious. The atmosphere was relaxed and casual.
The Legend of the Holy Prepuce in Calcata
Yes, you read right. According to the legend, a Lansquenet arrived in Calcata after the Sack of Rome in 1527. Allegedly, he had plundered the Shrine of San Giovanni in Laterano, stealing the relic of the Holy Prepuce. He was captured in Calcata and he managed to hide inside his cell the bizarre relic, found 30 years later.
Apparently, there are several prepuces around the world so we don’t know which one is THE one. In any case, the prepuce once in Calcata was stolen in 1983. But rumor has it that it was the Vatican itself to order to make it disappear.
Where to park to visit Calcata
Bad news: there are no parking spots close to the village entrance. Or better, there are only a couple and all reserved for the inhabitants. I was told that the fines are frequent, so I wouldn’t tempt fate. I never do it anyway. I’m always afraid of getting tickets. So I’m the kind of person that always overestimates the time I’m going to stay in a certain place by putting extra coins in the parking meter. By the way, I hate that system. I prefer when you can pay afterward.
To visit Calcata you have to park the car at the official pay parking lot (on Google type: Parcheggio Calcata Centro Storico, 01030 Calcata Vecchia VT). From there, a footpath will lead you to the old village (about 15 minutes). The first half of the path is nice, and at some point, you also enjoy the views over Calcata.
But… I regret not choosing to turn at the forking. If you go on along the footpath it starts going downhill very steeply. My ankle says thanks. On our way back, Matteo and I preferred to avoid the path back uphill and take the asphalt street and taking the footpath back only at the forking. From there it is all made by stairs uphill but at least the gradient is not exaggerated (let’s say… not THAT exaggerated).
I read about a bus connecting Rome to Calcata. Departures are from the terminus CO.TRA.L of Saxa Rubra and Via Lepanto. Timetables can be seen on the website www.cotralspa.it.
What to do in the surroundings
From the village, you can access various nature trails, on foot or on horseback, within the beautiful Valle del Treja Regional Park
20 minutes north of the village you can visit the Museo Opera Bosco, Wood Artwork Museum, created by two artists in 1996. Along the itinerary in the forest, you can admire about 40 artworks executed only with natural materials.
Calcata drone video
Check out this amazing drone video by my friend Walter Balducci and follow his channel: