245 – My New Website about Atina and the Val di Comino.

I am really passionate about this little hidden gem of a town that has panoramic views over the valley of the Val di Comino – an area of outstanding natural beauty. My maternal grandparents originated from this beautiful mountain community, so it is part of my ancestral heritage and my roots.

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However, I used to find it somewhat frustrating that I couldn’t manage to find much information in English about this area, so I came up with the idea of creating a website in English all about Atina and the Val di Comino.  For over a year now I have been working on setting up a new site about the town of my Italian ancestral heritage – Atina.

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Atina is situated in the province of Frosinone in the region of Lazio Italy, conveniently situated approximately midway between Rome and Naples. It is also only a short drive from the Abbey of Montecassino and the beautiful coastline of South Lazio.

Over the centuries Atina has experienced such an interesting history.  It was an important town even back in the times of the Romans and Samnites and it has been destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt several times over the centuries.

 

Within the historic centre there are many places to explore such as the medieval fortified palace of the Cantelmo family, the beautiful cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the nearby Palazzo Prepositurale.

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Atina also has several other churches of interest,  archaeological sites to visit and local museums.

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During the summer months there are many popular events held in the area such as the Feast of Santa Maria Assunta, the Atina Jazz Festival, the International Folklore Festival and the CantinAtina wine festival to name but a few.

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photo © Mirko Macari

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There are many interesting local products to sample, notably the Cannellini beans of Atina and the local wine Atina Cabernet Doc and as well as other traditional gastronomic delights.

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It is also a great region for exploring the great outdoors and partaking in various sport activities such as treking, mountain biking, horse riding, climbing, canoeing and paragliding. Indeed this area has so much to offer.

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I am hoping to translate the website into Italian and French and to add a blog which could be a supply interesting articles and publicise local facilities, festivals and events. I hope that my website may encourage more people, with connections with Atina and the Val di Comino in Ciociaria to come and discover more about this wonderful area.  

My new Atina website:  Atina Italy

I have also created a Facebook Group named “We Love Atina”. It is a great meeting place for people who have family with origins from this town, and who share my interest and passion. If you have a connection with Atina please do feel welcome to come and join us.

Facebook Group We Love Atina

All photos except where stated by me © Louise Shapcott

 

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

Near Sperlonga’s Beaches and Historic Itri in South Lazio

 

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244 – Atina Feast of Corpus Domini

The feast of Corpus Domini falls on the 9th Sunday following Easter. This festival is a real cultural community event where local people come together to create colourful decorative carpets to adorn the streets and squares of Atina. These designs are made using brightly coloured wood chippings and flowers.

A metal template is used to form the designs.

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Piazza Marconi, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the Bishops Palace.

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Several special altars are set up in various neighbourhood along the route of the planned procession, the main one being sited in the doorway of the old cathedral.

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Also, along the way, apartment dwellers drape silk banners and beautiful lace trimmed linens from their windows and balconies.

For the solemn religious procession of the blessed sacrament, the parish priest wears an ornately embroidered wrap around  his shoulders. This he then uses this to hold the “monstrance” displaying the holy consecrated sacrament of the host which represents the blessed body of Christ.  Four proud staff bearers support a decorative canopy aloft, flanked by several dignitaries and cassocked youths carrying a crucifix and lanterns. The town band follows behind and many townsfolk join in the religious parade along the way. The procession slowly winds its way through various quarters of Atina.  At each of the special altars the priest offers prayers and blesses each of the districts.

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When the procession arrives back to the piazza in front of the old cathedral, more prayers are offered and then the cathedral bells begin to joyfully ring out.  Finally a Benediction takes place in the cathedral to conclude the day’s celebrations.

All photos are by me © Louise Shapcott

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri

194 – 2014 Gathering of the “We Love Atina” Group – Summary and Plans For 2015

Well, sadly all good things must come to an end. 

All the members of the “We Love Atina !!!” Group seemed to really enjoy their long weekend in Atina.  They were a great bunch of people and everyone got on so well.  The weather was so kind to us, lovely warm sunny days, perfect for all our little trips around Atina and it environs.

We enjoyed several lovely evening meals together at …

The Villa Fortuna’s restaurant in lower Atina / Ponte Melfa.  We found it to be very friendly, the food was very good, tasty and reasonably priced.

We Love Atina Group at Villa Fortuna Restaurant Atina Italy

We also used the Villa Fortuna’s bar as our meeting point and were made so welcome by Marcello and Christiane, the Italian / American owners who also share our passion for Atina and genealogy. We were also able to use their Wifi network which was very useful.  Thanks guys !!!

We Love Atina Group at Villa Fortuna Atina Italy

Paul and Trevor, Paula and Brigida

We Love Atina Group at Villa Fortuna Atina Italy

Gina and Mary

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Brigida, Gina and Mary

We Love Atina Facebook Group at the Villa Fortuna Atina Italy

Ernesto and Mark

The group also had a lovely meal one evening at the well known restaurant named “Il Vicolo” in Upper Historic Centre of Atina, which was also very enjoyable. 

We Love Atina Group at Il Vicolo Restaurant Atina Italy

Brigida, Trevor, Gina, Enrico, Paul, me Louise, Mary, Delfa

We Love Atina Facebook Group at Il Vicolo Restaurant Atina Italy

Trevor, Gina, Enrico, Paul

We Love Atina Facebook Group at Il Vicolo Restaurant Atina Italy

Gina and her father Enrico

We Love Atina Facebook Group at Il Vicolo Restaurant Atina Italy

Delfa and her daughter Paula

We Love Atina Facebook Group at Il Vicolo Restaurant Atina Italy

Brigida and Trevor

You can read more about “Il Vicolo” here:

Il Ristorante Il Vicolo on TripAdvisor

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One lunch time we went for a spot of lunch at “La Botola” (opposite the Museum) and had the typical Atina dish of “pasta e fagioli“.

Osteria-Enoteca La Botola on TripAdvisor

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During their stay in Atina Brigida and Trevor, and Gina and Enrico chose to stay at the Fontana Vecchia, which is situated a little outside Atina, so a car would be useful.  They found the owners to be very friendly and helpful and would have no hesitation in recommending it to future visitors of Atina.

Fontana Vecchia Website

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Mary stayed at the “Hotel Virginia” near the centre of Atina.  Here are some photos she took of the view from her room:

Atina Frosinone Italy Val di Comino

Atina Frosinone Italy Val di Comino

Atina Frosinone Italy Val di Comino

Atina Frosinone Italy Val di Comino

She said: “It was very clean and quite retro … A mix of old and new, the owner’s husband is a French architect and he designed it. The owner also took me to the train station in Cassino when i left and would have picked me up too if I had called her … I spent a week there and I was the only one in the hotel so a bit scarey.   It was very central for Atina, if like me, you are without transport.”

Hotel Virginia Website

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The Bed & Breakfast Posta Vecchia is also well recommended.  It is situated in the heart of the old town of Atina. However it only has 2 rooms

The Bed & Breakfast Posta Vecchia on TripAdvisor

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We’d also like to recommend the Hotel Villa Fortuna (who also have the bar and restaurant above) to anyone looking for accommodation in and around Atina.  This is situated in lower Atina, in Ponte Melfa.

Villa Fortuna Website

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Well, we are soon  to plan next year’s “We Love Atina” Group’s next gathering in 2015.  We hope it may become an annual event. 

The date is still to be decided, however some have asked if it could be held during the summer months. 

Any further feedback would be much appreciated.

If you would like to join us, please feel free to join our

“We Love Atina !!!” Facebook Group

or get in touch with me. The more the merrier !!!

Ciao for now !!!

Louise

My Atina Website:  http://atinaitaly.com

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#atina #frosinone #italy #familyhistory #surnames #weloveatina #discover

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

193 – 2014 Gathering of the “We Love Atina” Group – La Festa di San Marco

Some members of the “We Love Atina Group” stayed on for a couple more days to see for themselves the Feast of San Marco, the patron saint of Atina. Marco Galileo is said to have been an apostle of St Peter and was persecuted and martyred for his Christian faith in Atina, during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian.

Once again we  met up at the café next to the Arco in Piazza Garibaldi.

We Love Atina Group Atina Frosinone Italy

Trevor & Brigida Varley, Gina & Enrico Battaglia and Paul

On this occasion we had the pleasure of meeting Lorraine Tambourine and her husband Billy, who are both from Scotland. They are frequent visitors of Atina.

Tamburrini We Love Atina Group Atina Frosinone Italy

Festivities were just starting to get underway. There was a brass band playing across the square by the Convent of San Francesco.

Band at the Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

I went up to the church and peaked inside where the ceremony was still taking place.

Cathedral of Atina Frosinone Italy

San Marco in the Cathedral of Atina Frosinone Italy

There was San Marco in all his glory.

Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

By this time darkness had fallen and I wandered through the streets

admiring the illuminations.

Lights for the Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Illumunations for Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

New Fountain Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

The New Fountian

New Fountain Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Billy and Lorraine

New Fountain Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Illuminations for Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Cathedral of Atina Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

The Cattedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Bandstand

Cathedral of Atina Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

After the church service there was the procession

throughout the streets of Bella Atina.

Procession of Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Procession of Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

The festivities continue into the night

when at midnight there is a grand firework display.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

My Atina Website:  http://atinaitaly.com

#atinaitaly #atinafrosinone #feastday #feast #sanmarco #santamariaassunta #cathedral #cattedrale

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

 

190 – 2014 Gathering of the “We Love Atina” Group – Visit to the Winery of La Ferriera

Our Visit to the Winery of La Ferraria. 

La Ferriera is an establishment run by a family that has a long tradition in the production of wine, specializing in the production of quality red wines with the designation of origin ‘Atina Cabernet DOC’.  It is located in the Rosanisco district of Atina and is housed in the buildings of an old Iron Foundry.

La Ferraria Old Iron Foundry Atina Italy

La Ferraria Old Iron Foundry Atina Italy

The Iron works were founded by the Bourbon king Ferdinand II  in 1858 to extract iron from the ore mined in the nearby area of Monte Meta.  There have been mines situated here since Samnite / Roman times, and it was this that historically gave Atina much of its wealth and accordingly the name of “Atina Potens”.

The plant had a huge blast furnace with a large air pump or bellows to ventilated it.  Today it is draped with a curtain of vines and creepers.

La Ferraria Winery Old Iron Foundry Atina Italy

La Ferraria Winery Old Iron Foundry Atina Italy

There is a spacious courtyard surrounded with other buildings which were utilised as warehouses in which to store the raw materials, workshops, administrative offices and accommodation for the some of the workers.  Unfortunately the life of the Ironworks was to be short lived as it shut down in 1860 and was left abandoned.

La Ferraria Winery Old Iron Foundry Atina Italy

In the centre of the courtyard stands an ancient poplar tree.

Below – Lucio Mancini giving us the guided tour.

Visit to La Ferraria Winery Old Iron Foundry Atina Italy

Some of the old building are now used for the production of wine. The Cabernet and Syrah varieties of grape are cultivated in the vineyards of the estate of Colle Alto in lower Atina, in the beautiful Val di Comino. 

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Modern equipment has been installed for the production of wine with controlled temperature and inert atmosphere in order to obtain a good extraction.

La Ferraria Winery Atina Italy

The wine is aged in barrels make of French Oak, with maturing on the lees and finally in the bottle. 

Oak Barrels La Ferraria Winery  Atina Italy

La Ferriera specializes in the production of quality red wines with the designation of origin’ Atina Cabernet DOC ‘.

The Realmagona DOC, is produced with Cabernet and Syrah grapes, We also tasted the Dorato derived from Pinot Bianco and Malvasia varieties.

Below Lucio Mancini  overlooking the wine tasting.

Wine Tasting La Ferraria Winery Atina Italy

Lucio Mancini  overlooking the wine tasting

Wine Tasting La Ferraria Winery Atina Italy

On the left – Francesco Massa

We were also kindly invited to taste of some other local delicacies.

Tasting Local Delicacies of Atina Italy

We Love Atina Group Wine Tasting at La Ferraria Winery Atina Italy

Mark and Jan Waldron

We Love Atina Group Wine Tasting at La Ferraria Winery Atina Italy

Brigida Varley and Paul

We Love Atina Group Wine Tasting at La Ferraria Winery Atina Italy

Mary Gilmour, Trevor and Brigida Varley and Paul

 Delicious !!!

Thank you to Lucio Mancini – Sales Executive of La Ferriera and Francesco Massa – Consigliere Comunale of Atina for organising this interesting tour for us.

Thank you very much to Mary (shown on the left)

for treating us to a lovely bottle of

La Ferriera’s Realmagona Atina Cabernet.

So very kind of you !!!

La Ferriera’s Website

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

My Atina Website:  http://atinaitaly.com

#atina #wine #winery #AtinaCabernetDoc #grapes #visocchi #LaFerraria #IronMines #IronFoundry #italy

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

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188 – 2014 Gathering of the “We Love Atina” Group – A Walk Around The Cemetery

The Church of Santa Maria – the first church was built in 1044 on the site of the Roman temple of Saturn.  This was destroyed in the earthquake of 1231, however was soon rebuilt and was enlarged over the years. In November 1943 it was destroyed during the bombing of Atina.  This is the entrance to the Cemetery.

Ruined Church Near the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Atina’s Cemetery – The Visocchi Chapel

Vissochi Chapel in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Vissochi Chapel in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Vissochi Chapel in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Stained Glass Window in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Gravestone in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Grave in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Grave in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Vissochi Grave in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Looking down at the lower section of  Cemetery at the church of San Pietro and in the distance the district known as “Il Colle” and the small octagonal church of Santa Croce.

Church of Santa Croce Il Colle in Atina in Frosinone Italy

From Atina’s Cemetery

A view of the Val di Comino and the mountains beyond.

Val di Comino from  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

A section of ancient Cyclopean wall dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries BC, situated near the Cemetery.

Cyclopean wall in Atina Frosinone Italy

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

My Atina Website:   http://atinaitaly.com

#WeLoveAtina #Cemetery #Atina #frosinone #italy #church #churches

 

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

187 – 2014 Gathering of the “We Love Atina” Group – A Guided Tour of Atina

On the Saturday morning we all met up by the new fountain in Piazza Garibaldi.

We Love Atina Group New Fountain in Atina Frosinone Italy

Eugenio Cannatà, born in Atina, but a resident of New York in the USA, had donated some money to create a new monument for the centre of the square, to replace the fountain that was destroyed in the bombing of Atina during WWII.  The new fountain bears the inscription “In memoria dei coniugi Guglielmo e Ofelia Cannatà”.

New Fountain in Atina Frosinone Italy

Piazza Garibaldi and the Porta dell’Assunta or San Rocco – an ancient gateway into the historic centre of Atina.

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Mark and Jan Waldron

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Paul, Sally and Ken Nardone

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Trevor and Brigida Varley

We were met by Dottoressa lenia Carnevale, the Director of the Archaeological Museum of Atina, who was to give us a guided tour of the town.

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The “Posterula” dates back to around the II Century and allowed access to the Roman town from the surrounding countryside. Its round arch opens into the original boundary walls.  The Visocchi family’s wine factory was founded in 1868 on the premises opposite this gate.  In 2003 the factory was turned into a museum and seat of the “Associazione Enogastronomica” named “Le Cannardizie”.  This restaurant is highly recommended in Atina. Website: http://www.lecannardizie.it

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La Porta dell’ Assunta or La Porta di San Rocco.

P1290381aThe Palazzo Ducale, the Duke’s Palace

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Outside the Palazzo Ducale there is a Roman statue, the head of which, it is said, was changed with the proclamation of each new Emperor.  The epigraph inscribed on the base records Marco Aurelio Antonio (161-180) who owned a holiday villa in Atina.

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The entrance to the Palazzo Ducale – A Roman Memorial Epitaph  – a large block of stone or marble with a memorial inscription dedicated to a respected citizen.

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Inside the Palazzo Ducale there is an ancient mosaic depicting Samnite warriors.

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In the Palazzo Ducale there was a private chapel which is under restoration.  There are some beautiful frescoes.

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Some frescoes were rescued from the ruined church of Santa Maria.

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The following two paintings depict life at Court.

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In the great hall of the Palazzo Ducale stands a large table with beautifully carved legs.

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In the Palazzo Ducale there is now a room with three modern multi-media interactive units depicting Atina and the Val di Comino during the Medieval period.

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Stairway inside the Courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale.

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Ken & Sally Nardone, Paul Shapcott, Enrico Battaglia, Brigida Varley, Dottoressa Illenia Carnevale, Mary Gilmour, Gina Pollard, Trevor Varley, Mark Waldron & his wife Jan

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Ken Nardone, Me Louise, Sally Nardone, Enrico Battaglia, Brigida Varley, Dottoressa Illenia Carnevale, Mary Gilmour, Gina Pollard, Trevor Varley, Mark & Jan Waldron

An ancient doorway

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A tiny alleyway

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Via Grotti, where my ancestors lived.

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Next Illenia gave us a tour of  the Archaeological Museum of Atina. 

Another Roman inscription.

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An ancient Cyclopean piece of stone.

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Ancient sculpture of a Lion

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All of us at Archaeological Museum of Atina

Thank you so much Illenia from us all !!!

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

My Atina Website:  http://atinaitaly.com

#AtinaItaly #history #museum #archaeology #history

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

174 – Atina Get Together The Weekend of 26th / 27th / 28th September 2014

A while back I created a Group on Facebook called

“WE LOVE ATINA !!!”.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/62618687824/

Atina Frosinone Italy in the Val di Comino

This is an English speaking Group for people who share my passion for beautiful Atina and the Val di Comino and who have family roots firmly planted in this beautiful little town in Frosinone, Italy.  We now have over 275 members.

Cathedral in Atina Frosinone Italy

Brigida and I are currently organising a “Get Together” in Atina over the weekend of the 26th / 27th / 28th September 2014. 

Anyone with family connections with Atina is very welcome to take part.

For anyone who would might like to stay a few extra days – the Feast of Atina’s patron saint, San Marco, is held on 1 October.

Here are some ideas that Brigida and I have come up with

for the Get Together ….

The Friday Evening

Meet and Greet – to meet up with We Love Atina members of the group at a Bar in Atina. It would be great if we could find somewhere with a side room where we could all get to know each other, chat, show photos etc etc. and generally use as a base.

Saturday Evening:

All meet for drinks at a bar and on to Restaurant for dinner.

Sunday Morning:

Attend Mass at the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.

Some other ideas ……

A Guided Tour around Atina, discovering the different districts, houses and palaces, learning about the history of the town.

A Visit to the local Museum and Library.

A Visit to the local Graveyard.

A Visit to the ruins of the old Paper Factory

A Wine Tasting at a local Vineyard and Tasting of local delicacies

If people want to stay on for a few days they could also …….

See the Monday morning Market held in Atina

For anyone who would might like to stay on for a few extra days – the Feast of Atina’s patron saint, San Marco, is held on 1 October.

San Marco Atina Frosinone Italy

Well these are a few ideas, perhaps you can come up

with some new or better ones.

Please feel free to get in touch if you would like

to join We Love Atina !!! on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/62618687824/

and / or if you would like to attend this event in Atina.

This is my website about Bella Atina:

http://atinaitaly.com

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#WeLoveAtina #FacebookGroup #atina #italy

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

130 – A Hair-Raising Drive To Montecassino

I made up my mind that we really needed to take our Australian friend Diana out and about to see some local sites.  So I planned a route, heading towards Cassino, taking the scenic road via Campodimele and Pico

However, in my moment of enthusiasm (or was it madness ?) I had forgotten to take into consideration, the tortuous ascending route, with numerous vertiginous hairpin bends, that leads up to the abbey of Montecassino

 

 

This could be considered challenging even for some confident drivers, especially when you find a bus coming at you on the wrong side of the road !!!)  I was somewhat relieved as we neared to top and the Abbey finally came into vision.  After a huge sigh of relief I slowly managed to prize my white knuckled hands away from the steering wheel.

 

I was wearing a sundress, so I donned a cardigan, as to be allowed into the Abbey you must be respectful in wearing appropriate clothing, ie shoulders must be covered, and mini-skirts and “mini” shorts are definitely frowned upon.

As you enter the Abbey you first walk through a peaceful cloister and standing in the centre of the garden is a bronze statue depicting the death of St Benedict.

From the balcony on the lower section there is a stunning panoramic view of the Liri Valley and to the right, on a hillside, the Polish Cemetery.

A wide stone staircase steps lead up to a higher cloistered area and the facade of the grand Basilica.

The inside of the Basilica is incredibly ornate and lavishly decorated with beautiful examples of intricate inlaid marble, gilded plasterwork and frescoes.

A vaulted stairway leading down to the crypt is adorned with tiny blue and gold mosaic tiles, and the chapels are also opulently embellished with beautiful mosaics.

There is a museum which houses many of the abbey’s ancient treasures (please note that this is only open on Sundays during the winter months).

There are also two shops where you can purchase souvenirs and herbal remedies and preparations made by the monks.

Nowadays, it hard to believe that this beautiful tranquil  location was once the site of a fierce battle that raged during 1944, resulting in the abbey being virtually destroyed. 

Click here for more details of Montecassino and the Gustav Line.

For more information and photos of the Abbey and Montecassino please take a look at our  website:  http://cassino.shapcott-family.com

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy