Il Torrino dei Gelsi is located in the heart of the Roman countryside, in an area rich in history, archaeological finds and beautiful oak and chestnut woods. The ancient farmhouse stands on Faustinian Hill, named after the Empress Faustina, wife of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius. Important reminders of the past can still be found here, and every walk is enriched by the presence of ancient villas, tunnels and tombs. The pride of the area are definitely the ancient aqueducts of the Imperial Era known as the Water Giants that can be reached by a pleasant walk starting from our olive grove.
Click on the images below to discover some of the attractions near our farmhouse.
Aqueducts were built during the Imperial Epoch to provide water supply to the city of Rome. In the area surrounding the Torrino dei Gelsi, there are the remains of the most important Imperial Aqueducts: Anio Vetus, Anio Novus, Acqua Marcia, and Acqua Claudia.
We will provide you with a map to walk to the 3 major Roman bridges that testify how water was transported with incredible engineering works.
"Ponte delle Mole or Bridge of the Arches."
This is a bridge of the Ancient Aniene aqueduct. It was built by Hadrian's engineers to cross the Moat of the Mole, at a well-chosen point just before the Valley widens to exclude a bend of about two kilometers.
"Ponte San Pietro - St. Peter's Bridge"
Over it flowed the Acqua Marcia (144-130 B.C.) and was built to cross the San Vittorino Ditch. The aqueduct derives its name from A. Marcio Re, praetor in 144 B.C., whose family boasted descent from Anco Marzio fourth king of Rome.
"St. Anthony's Bridge"
It is one of the most beautiful bridges of the Roman aqueducts. It was built to get the New Aniene (38-52 A.D.) over the Acquaramenga ditch.
Just a few minutes' drive from our Farm you can visit the most important villa of the Roman era: Villa Adriana. Built between 118 and 138 CE, with a perimeter of 3 km this splendid villa is the largest residence ever owned by a Roman emperor. It was commissioned by Hadrian, an emperor who detested the crowding, promiscuity, intrigue, and chaos of Rome. Construction of the villa began the year after his accession to the empire and accompanied him for the rest of his existence. A lover of art, Hadrian was passionate about architecture and intervened directly in the design and planning of the buildings. Since 1999 it has been part of UNESCO's World Heritage monuments.
About 15 minutes from our agriturismo, in the town of Tivoli, you can admire Villa D'Este. Considered the masterpiece of the "Italian garden," it is listed by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site. With its impressive concentration of fountains, nymphaea, grottoes, water features and hydraulic music it constitutes a model emulated many times in the "European gardens" of Mannerism and Baroque. The villa was built by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este, governor of Tivoli in 1550, who wanted to revive the splendor of the courts of Ferrara, Rome, and Fontaibleau. Ippolito II immediately caressed the idea of a garden in the precipitous slope, which he was only able to have built after 1560. Work continued even after the cardinal's death in 1572 and resumed a century later, between 1660 and 1670 under the direction of the great Baroque architect Gianlorenzo Bernini.
The ancient medieval village of San Gregorio da Sassola with its magnificent castle is located just over 2 km from TOrrino dei Gelsi. The village stands on a striking tuffaceous spur that accentuates its typically medieval appearance.The structure of the village is divided into two parts: the "Borgo Vecchio" of medieval layout overlooked by the imposing Brancaccio Castle and the baroque "Borgo Pio" built following the plague of 1656 at the behest of Cardinal Pio of Savoy. The history of San Gregorio da Sassola is closely linked to the Brancaccio Castle whose origins date back to the middle of the 10th century. The castle is still well preserved today.
About 15 minutes from our farm, in the locality of Bagni di Tivoli, where once stood the ancient baths of the Romans, today you can admire a splendid spa complex open to the public all year round.
The completely renovated and refurbished amenities of the New Thermal Spa, in addition to traditional cures from thermal medicine, offer different types of wellness programmes thanks to utilisation of the latest technologies.
For information: www.termediroma.org
For those who feel the need to rediscover their spirituality, a stay at Agriturismo il Torrino dei Gelsi offers a unique experience. In fact, a few kilometers away you can find the mystical place “The Shrine of our Lady of Mentorella”.
Mentorella is on a mountain about 65 Km SE of Rome, and about 1020 meters above sea level. It was a favorite place of pilgrimage for Pope John Paul II. In October of 2005 Pope Benedict XVI made a pilgrimage to Mentorella. It is said to have been the place of conversion for St. Eustachius in the 2nd Century. Eustachius was eventually put to death for his faith. Two centuries later the Emperor Constantine decided to build a basilica on the spot of Eustachius’ conversion. It was consecrated by Pope Silvester I sometime before 335.
In the 6th Century the land was given to the monks of Subiaco by the Anici family. The 17th century Jesuit scholar Father Anthanasius Kircher, believed that Mentorella was one of the 12 abbeys founded by St. Benedict and that he lived in the adjacent cave for up to two years. Somewhere in the middle of the 13th Century the most precious treasure of Mentorella was created – the wooden statue of the Madonna. It sits in the church today. The Benedictines abandoned the abbey at the end of the 14th century and it fell into disrepair and ruins until Fr. Kircher discovered it. Fr. Kircher was responsible for the rebuilding of the shrine and for restoring the cult of our Lady of Mentorella. When he died he asked that his heart be buried in the church. Pope Innocent XIII who was the pope at the time also requested that his heart be buried in the church.
In 1857 Pope Pius IX placed Mentorella under the care of the Congregation of the Resurrection, under the guidance of Fr. Kajsiewicz. The General Chapter of the Congregation of the Resurrection (1864) was held at Mentorella. In 1864, the Holy Father ceded the Sanctuary of Mentorella to the Congregation of the Resurrection “ in perpetuum”. With the fall of the Papal States the Congregation of the Resurrection purchased the shrine and acquired legal title to it.
Trekking in the Aniene Valley can lead to striking discoveries. The agriturismo Il Torrino dei Gelsi is immersed in the Mediterranean scrub and with a little luck you can still see animals typical of the prenestine habitat such as wild boar, weasel, fox, marten, hare, porcupine, hedgehog and badger. There are many birds such as the owl, kestrel, barn owl and hoopoe. On summer evenings, you will be surrounded by wonderful fireflies. As for flora, above 800 meters you can see blackthorn, myrtle, heather, hawthorn and dog rose.
In the woods surrounding the farmhouse, on the other hand, we have examples of Maple, Downy Oak, Elder, Elm, Black Hornbeam, Apple and Wild Pear. In the area around Mentorella, there are examples of Beech, Oak and Chestnut trees. The major cultivation is, of course, olive trees and vines that cover almost the entire Aniene Valley and the lands of our farm.
ONE of the most beautiful walks starts right from the Torrino dei Gelsi and leads to the ancient Roman aqueducts with suggestive views and green areas.