Subiaco is a municipality at around 67 km from Rome, near the river Aniene, in the middle of the Parco Naturale Regionale dei Monti Simbruini, a protected wildlife area. Its inhabitants are called Sublacensi.
Subiaco travel guide
Tourist information: Corso Cesare Battisti, 37 – Subiaco. Phone: +39 0774 85050. Opening times: Friday to Sunday from 10:00 till 13:00 and from 14:30 till 17:30.
Town hall: Piazza Sant’Andrea, 1. Phone: +39 0774 8161.
A brief history of Subiaco
The Aequi, an Italic tribe, were the first settlers in the area. In 304 BC the Romans conquered them. The name of the city derives from a villa built by emperor Nero, with a number of artificial lakes on its grounds. The nearby city, just like the villa, came to be known as “Sublaqueum“, meaning “under the water”.
At one time, until it was destroyed (1305) Subiaco could boast the highest dam in the world, but after the fall of the Roman Empire the town became abandoned and quickly forgotten.
Saint Benedict, when he was only 14 and not a saint yet, spent three years in a grotto above the river Anio. This grotto became the cradle of the Order of the Benedictines, and Saint Benedict created 12 communities of 12 monks each there.
Two of these became monasteries, the monastery of Saint Benedict (San Benedetto) and the one of Saint Scholastica (San Scolastica), both just outside the center of Subiaco.
The sacred grotto (sacro speco, in Italian) itself later became an important goal for pilgrims.
Religious life declined though and the city lost its appeal for pilgrims and was not heard of again until French troops sacked it and plundered the monastery and churches (early 19th century). After Garibaldi conquered Subiaco it became part of the Italian Kingdom (1870).
Subiaco was bombed by Allied planes in World War II.
Subiaco tourist attractions
- The medieval Saint Francis’ Bridge, spanning no less than 37 m.
- Abbey of St. Scholastica
- Rocca Abbaziale, the Abbots’ Rock or Abbots’ Castle, an originally medieval building that was reconstructed in the 16th and 17th centuries.
- Church of Saint Francis: This was built in 1327 and has 15th and 16th century paintings.
- Church of Sant’Andrea
- Church of Santa Maria della Valle
- Abbey of Saint Benedict
- Sacro Speco (Sacred Grotto)
Subiaco is the first city in Italy where books were printed (by two Germans called Sweinheim and Pannartz).
The city itself is divided into a number of contrade: Pianiglio – San Lorenzo, Le Camere – Cappuccini, Montore – Camarde, Barili – Iegli, Pozziglio – Forma Focerale – San Vito, Caprola – Campo d’Arco, Riarco – Castagnola, Risano – Colle Perino, Sant’Angelo – Prato Maggiore – Nocchitella, Valle Papa – Valle Chiappante.
The following frazioni (suburbs) are part of Subiaco: Monte Livata, Campo dell’Osso, Vignola, La Torre, Ponte Lucidi.