SACRED WOODS AND SACRED WAYS. ARICCIA REVISITED
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The very name of Ariccia also refers to the woods and pre-Christian beliefs of the people inhabiting the Latium region. Ariccia derives from Aricia, the wife of Virbius, who according to one of the traditions, lived in a sacred forest near Ariccia (Latin: Aricia). The site offers a unique insight into the magic world of history, myths and emblematics – and to that of gardens, as well. In Roman times, among the Ariccian woods were interspersed sanctuaries from among which the following two were the most important. The first one was a temple dedicated to Jove Latiaris (Jupiter), erected on the top of the Mons Albanus. This was an important pilgrimage destination for Latin people. The mountain was also the final goal following a military victory. Since Roman times the woods have also been dotted with villas and vineyards, orchards and beds of vegetables. Roman emperors and public servants spent there long and hot summer days. The antique villa tradition held on, and several sites near the Lake of Albano and the Lake of Nemi are fi ne testimonies to the 16th- to 18th-century villeggiatura in this part of the Latium region. One such example is the Chigi Palace and Park at Ariccia. With the Mons Albanus and the Diana Aricina on the back scene, the Chigi complex remains a place that influences our ideas about nature, garden and memory. The unique synthesis of such design, the ancient myths and the magnificent landscape made Ariccia a topos dear to past times' dwellers and travellers, especially in the age of the Grand Tour. The sacro bosco (‘sacred wood') remained the focal point, but the Chigi Palace and Garden also had its important share.
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