Do not miss an opportunity to visit the Lakes of Rieti - the most serene bodies of water, embraced by lush green mountains of every shape.
Rieti has the largest number of artificial lakes - 3 which include Salto, Turano and Scandarello. The situation might have been different if Romans had not drained the large Velino Lake. There are 7 additional lakes which include: Cornino, Duchessa, Lungo, Paterno, Rascino, Rippasottile and Ventina - for a grand total of 10 Rieti lakes.
Rieti - the secret jewel in the Franciscan crown - has always been dimmed by the notoriety of Assisi. Now you can experience an official, marked, "Saint Francis Walk" of 80 kilometres through the sacred valley - inaugurated in December 2003, and divided into eight stops that have been blessed by the presence of Saint Francis.
The stops along the Walk will take you to Medieval Rieti with its palaces and churches, the Greccio, La Foresta, Poggio Bustone and Fontecolombo Sanctuaries set within green and lush woods, the Saint Francis Beech Tree at Rivodutri , the ancient town of Posta , a pearl in the Velino Valley, and to the top of Mount Terminillo.
You can choose how to do the Walk: on foot, by mountain bike, on horseback, or by car (this choice is available for those with special needs). However you decide to make the Walk, you will find paths and roads of exceptional beauty.
Perhaps the most interesting building in town, the Palazzo Vescovile (Bishops' Palace) is situated right behind the Duomo (Cathedral), and you could easily overlook it. However, its original medieval architecture, and the porticos below should not be missed.
The Cathedral lies in the main square. It was originally built in the 1200's and, like most other things in this area of Italy, rebuilt and modified several times. The only original bits are the central door under the arches (themselves built two centuries later), the romanic bell tower and a statue of the Virgin Mary in a chapel inside that I couldn't see since I arrived at dusk.
According to the ancient historicians Dionigi di Alicarnasso and Marco Terenzio Varrone, lake Paterno used to lie there where you see Rieti. The two small lakes you see today (Laghi Reatini) are what's left of it after the Romans made an artificial cut on a hill near Marmore and created Italy's tallest waterfall (cascata delle Marmore). The lake had an island in the middle, that they referred to as the belly button of Italy (umbilicus Italiae). Nowadays, Piazza San Rufo is where the centre of Italy is officially located - a sign on the wall indicates that in several languages