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At the beginning of the 9th century, during the Saracen invasions, Tolfa had two main centres, Tolfa Vecchia (the present town) and Tolfa Nuova (the present Monte Tolfaccia). As soon as the Saracens left the country, Tolfa Vecchia began to develop, while Tolfa Nuova gradually disappeared. An Act of Submission of Tolfa (dated 1201) shows that the town was occupied by Niccolò degli Anguillara and then subordinated to Corneto.
In 1440, Ludovico and Pietro Frangipane acquired Tolfa, its castle and territories. The medieval village developed at the foot of the hill where the castle was built, known with the name of Rocca. It was also surrounded by defensive walls. The only doorway to the town was situated near the Church of Crocifisso and then destroyed in the 19th Century. Inside the walls, there were the Church of St. Egidio and the medieval town hall (Palazzo della Ragione or Palazzaccio), that has been reshaped for the last centuries.
In 1461, alunite mineral was found by Giovanni da Castro and then mined in the territories of Tolfa. In the Middle Ages, this mineral was of great value, since it was used as a dye-fixer for fabrics. Before being found in Tolfa, it was imported from the Middle East. This successful finding had important effects on the political and economic development of the town. After several disputes, the whole territory of Tolfa was purchased by the Apostolic Camera. Some elegant Renaissance buildings ( Palazzaccio, Palazzo Celli, Panetti, Baldacchini) were built as a result of the great economic and urban development of Tolfa. These buildings probably belonged to the noble families who supervised the mines.
Agostino Chigi, a banker from Siena who was responsible for the mines on behalf of the Papal States, began to build the Church of S. Maria della Sughera and the nearby convent.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the town outside the walls was bigger than the old one. Many restoration and building works were accomplished: the convent of Cappuccini (1622), the Church of St. Francesco, the Church of Crocifisso (1644) and the Church of St. Antonio da Padova (1690). In this period the Church of St. Egidio was also extended.
Towards the end of the century, alunite production began to decrease till it completely ceased to exist.
In 1799, many citizens of Tolfa lost their lives while defending their town from a French invasion. The Rocca castle was almost destroyed.
Remains of huts found at Monte Rovello and Poggio la Pozza show that the area of Tolfa has been inhabited since Neolithic times. A storage closet, used to hide precious objects in the Bronze Age, was found in 1880 at Marano. It contained bronze objects, different tools (cups, hooks and axes) and some jewellery (rings, necklaces, pins). These finds are displayed in the Luigi Pigorelli Prehistoric Museum in Rome.
There are many traces of the Proto-Villanovan culture: tombs made of local stone slabs; holes dig into the ground containing dead bones and grave goods; remains of villages and graveyards, showing that the Mignone Valley was densely populated.
Remains of Etruscan settlements are the most significant archaeological finds. The main necropolis are at Ferrone, Pian della Conserva, Pian Cisterna and Pian dei Santi. Moreover, small villages were found at Monte S. Angelo, Pantanelle, Tor Cimina and Tolfa.
Remains of ceramic materials, gravestones and imperial coins show that some Etruscan settlements continued to exist even during the Roman period. The Etruscan-Roman temple “Grasceta dei Cavallari”, that was built on the main road connecting Tarquinia to the old Caere, is one of the most noteworthy archaeological sites.
Mosaics, frescos and some plasters were found in the two most important Roman villas in Tolfa (Pian dei santi and Poggio Smerdarolo)
Despite the fall of the Roman Empire, the area of Tolfa continued to be inhabited.
Turning to the Middle Ages, a graveyard found at Costa Lombarda, some toponyms (Bardone, Rota) and signs of a devotion to S. Michele Arcangelo may provide evidence of Lombards (a Germanic tribe) influence in the area.
The Monte Piantangeli’s Abbey is one of the most important sites. It was built on the Piantangeli mountain, from which it was possible to control the Mignone valley and some roads leading to Viterbo. In this area there were a church, a monastery and a village, that were run by the abbot. Fine capitals made with local stone are unique pieces of Romanesque architecture and they are displayed in the Tolfa Museum.
Tolfa mountains are a range of gentle and low height hills that extend from Viterbo to the Tyrrhenian coast. To the north, this area is delimited by the Mignone river, that rises at the Sabatini mountains and flows into the Tyrrhenian sea, near Tarquinia.
Tolfa Mountains are a fascinating land of traditions and history. Moreover, they are rich in biodiversity, open pastures and volcanic minerals.
Abundance of water and positive climatic conditions have influenced the composition of the vegetation, that is characterized by forests, grasslands, thick woods and a great variety of plants and flowers.
For this reason, a great part of the Tolfa Mountains has been identified as a Special Protection Area (SPA) and nominated to be part of the Sites of Community Importance network (Habitats directive). It is, therefore, part of the Natura 2000 network, the European Union’s most important initiative for the protection of natural heritage.
The volcanic soils are the most distinctive features of the landscape. The shape of some mountains with very steep sides is due to the fact that they are volcanic domes, that is, structures formed by accumulation of lava at its point of emission, which is too viscous to flow. These mountains contrast with the gentle sedimentary hills nearby.
In the final stage of volcanism, the circulation of volcanic fluid favoured the formation of mineral deposits. Impressive abandoned mining excavations show then evidence of the volcanic origin of this land. Metal minerals, alum and local stone were the main products extracted from these mountains.
From the main balcony in Tolfa you can see the Mignone valley, characterized by the contrast between the two different kinds of elevation.
A great variety of environments, rich in terms of vegetation and plants species, is the result of the geographical location of Tolfa mountains. Holm oaks, cork oaks, beech trees, hollies, hawthorn and juniper trees are some of the many species hosted by these mountains.
You can walk, even in solitude, through astonishing woods, that are widespread in this area.
Beach forests at Allumiere and oak forests at Roverella – between Poggio Vivo and Monte Piantangeli - are the most noteworthy vegetation sites of this area.
Spring-flowering brings colours to the underbrush. Snowdrops, glads, violets are some of the many flowers that are in Tolfa oak forests.
Spectacular orchids make the area popular among lovers of these wonderful species.
The Tolfa mountains are famous for being one of the most important areas for bird conservation, as a result of climatic, geographical and human influences. The area is well known and is a favourite destination for European ornithologists and birdwatchers. Among the most interesting species are the many birds of prey that fly in our skies.
Driving through the roads that lead to Tolfa, you will see many horses and cows pasturing in the wild. Maremma cows derive from the Urus, a wild bovine that originated in Central Asia. Maremma cows have got a greyish coat, long horns, a massive body and a wide chest. Lively, rustic and hardy, Tolfa horses have got a dark coat and strong musculature.
Tolfa horses and Maremma cows belong to uncommon breeds, with significant ability to adapt to difficult environmental conditions. Harsh nature, cold winters, poor pastures and dry summers have conditioned these very strong and hardy animals.
Protecting these animals ensures the survival of a complex tradition linked to animal husbandry in the wild. Cows and horses have always had an ancestral connection to “Butteri”. The Maremma cowboys used to ride horses, feed and take care of their cattle. Animals, nature and humans have been living in harmony for centuries.
Nowadays, cattle and horse breeding is still an important element of Tolfa’s economy and culture.
In July, a festival revives the ancient tradition of Butteri and holds the strong agricultural and bucolic identity of Tolfa.
Tolfa’s craftsmanship represents a simple but wise way of living and producing. There are several craftsman activities in Tolfa but the most typical is the leather manufacturing. Among the many leather objects produced – saddles as the “bardella maremmana”, harness and other equestrian accessories – the famous catana bag holds a place of honour.
According to the historical researches, a master craftsman called Stefano gave a strong incentive to the leather manufacturing in general and probably created the special bag in 1575.
During the 1960s, the catana became fashionable but in the past it was simply the haversack used by Tolfa’s cowboys (“butteri”) when they went “fora” (dialectal word meaning “staying in the countryside for several days”). In the Tolfa’s peasant tradition, the catana was an essential element for the everyday life. It was resistant and spacious. It could contain all the ingredients needed by the cowboys to prepare the “acquacotta”.
Using spontaneous plants as food is an ancient tradition. The wise use of these plants has been passed on by elderly people and is still alive in the Tolfa’s mountains area. The local cooking is based on local products as durum wheat, spontaneous plants, mushrooms, truffles, snails, beef, horsemeat and pork meat obtained from free-range animals. Also the sweets are realized using local products as chestnuts, honey and raisins.
The most typical, famous and beloved dish is the “acquacotta”: it is made boiling vegetables and than pouring them in a bowl with bread slices on the bottom. Although the way of cooking is always the same, the taste of the “acquacotta” changes along with the seasons because only seasonal vegetables are used. When the vegetables are almost cooked, a mince of lard, marjoram, garlic and chilli pepper is added..
Università Agraria di Tolfa
Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 12 Secondo Piano
Carabinieri, Stazione di Tolfa
Viale d’Italia, 146
Corpo Forestale dello Stato
Viale d’Italia, 146
Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 12 Secondo Piano
Pro Loco Tolfa
Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 12 Pian terreno
Via Roma, 69
C.R.I. Sezione di Tolfa
Via Roma, 85
Tel. e Fax 0766.92184
Referente: Commissario Cri Sig. Francesco Maurelli
Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 12
Ospedale Pediatrico Bambin Gesù
Sede di Santa Marinella
Lungomare G. Marconi n. 36 00058 Santa Marinella
Telefono: 0766 5241
Sede di Palidoro
Via Torre di Palidoro, snc – 00050 Fiumicino (Roma)
CUP – Centro Unico Prenotazioni Tel. 06.68181
Ospedale S. Paolo
Largo Donatori del Sangue n. 1 00053 Civitavecchia
Telefono: 0766 23131 – 0766 31525
Vigili del Fuoco Civitavecchia
Piazza di Porta Tarquinia 3, 00053 Civitavecchia
Tel: 0766 23333
Fax: 0766 23332
Enel (segnalazione guasti)
Tel.0766 167 – 252498
Eni Gas (segnalazione guasti)