The Pratoni del Vivaro are a valley in the Colli Albani located within the Castelli Romani Regional Park, bounded by Monte Artemisio (alt. 939 m) and Monte Cavo (alt. 949 m), the highest peaks in the Colli Albani. It is a continuation of the renowned Algidense Valley, a valley sacred to the Latins and Romans for the famous temple to Diana on Mount Algido, and later a valley sacred to Christians after Giovanni di Cappadocia founded a monastery and the Church of Sant'Agata there in the year 370. The landscape is unique. Here, nature can still be found in its unspoiled state and each season of the year makes its own special contribution. Spring is dominated by the ochre-colored yellow and fresh scent of broom plants, and the fields are tinted purple and bright red. Summer is a celebration of green with the leafy chestnut trees and fresh mint in the fields. In the fall, the orange-hued woods have an earthy smell of moss and mushrooms, while winter normally brings its own white blanket with a suggestive, unforgettable pine-dominated landscape. The valley’s colors and fragrances inundate everyone and everything with their opulence. Since the Rome Summer Olympics in 1960 it has been renowned internationally for its riding and jumping facilities and is a major center for all horse-lovers, whatever their discipline – jumping, dressage or endurance. It is no surprise that the area occupied by the Centro Equestre Federale riding facilities of the Italian Olympic Committee – which in addition to numerous jumping areas also has cross-country trails renowned throughout the world – was even visited by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. But the “Pratoni”, as the area is affectionately called, is also a favorite with hikers and tourists who have little to do with horses and come to this area in the warm weather for picnics and to get away from the city. Don’t miss the small village of Vivaro with its ruins of a medieval castle, sanctuary of Santa Maria Illuminata and the Franco Fuligni astronomy observatory with its newly-installed Edmondo Bernacca weather station.