The short but suggestive trip discovering the valley of the Licenza stream (valle del torrente Licenza) starts at Vicovaro – a small town 50 km from Rome, and the gateway to the Monti Lucretili Regional Park. This is the setting for a group of small towns, Roccagiovine, Licenza and Percile along with the chestnut groves around Roccagiovine, the Karst lakes of Percile, the beech woods of Monte Pellecchia and the ruins of the large villa of the Latin poet Horace (Orazio) near Licenza.
In all probability the heart of Vicovaro was the most important fortified centre built during the republican period. In the centre of the village there are still examples of Renaissance architecture, like the small octagon temple of San Giacomo, and buildings from the eighteenth century such as the Church of St. Peter (S. Pietro) with a single nave, and the Palazzo Cenci-Bolognetti, which incorporates the framework structures of the fourteenth century Palazzo Orsini. The whole village, constructed around the main piazza San Pietro square, preserves the original dwellings. Around the year 1600 the San Cosimato Monastery was built among the Roman ruins above the sheer rock wall over Aniene, with its natural and man-made caves and underground tunnels for the aqueducts. St. Benedict of Norcia also spent time at the monastery.
Leave the village of Vicovaro and travel for 7 km to reach the small town of Roccagiovine, set on a rocky spur dominating the Licenza stream valley. This is the only village to be located entirely within the Monti Lucretili Regional Nature Park. Given its location within the protected area, Roccagiovine is one of the main entries to the Park, towards the Karst uplands of Campitello and the expansive grasslands of Mount Gennaro.
Roccagiovine is 4 km away from Licenza, in the beautiful valley named after its stream, ideally located as a privileged entry point to discovering the variety of countryside and nature in this protected area. To the North West, lies the long ridge of Mount Pellecchia, which, with its 1,368 metres is the highest peak in the Park. To the East there is the large upland opening out onto the Aniene valley, with the Percile lakes (Lagustelli di Percile). The deep valleys that make up the Pellecchia massif are particularly suggestive. They start from the small village of Civitella, or in the case of the Chiuse Ditch Valley (valle del fosso delle Chiuse), just next to Horace’s Villa (Villa oraziana), leading into the Park in the direction of Pratone di Mount Gennaro.
There are various monuments of historical and archaeological interest in Licenza, including Orsini Castle (Castello degli Orsini), belonging to the Roman Orsini family and the remains of the villa owned by the famous Latin poet Horace.
Percile dominates the high ground over the Licenza stream valley and is the last stop on our tour. Once you’ve passed the centre of the village, walk for a couple of kilometres through a wooded area and you will discover a small pretty country road leading to the "lagustelli": two tiny circular Karst lakes.
Stops on the tour
The excurision starts at Vicovaro, which can be easily reached from Rome from the A 24 Rome - L’Aquila motorway, exiting at Vicovaro - Mandela. Follow the signs to Vicovaro - Licenza - Roccagiovine, and about 800 metres from the motorway exit, at the hamlet of San Cosimato, follow the signposts for Licenza, Roccagiovine, Percile and Orvinio.