Together, narrating Artena and Lake Giulianello means describing the history and environment of an ancient area with modern aspects south of Rome. Artena, an enchanting municipality in Lazio, unfolds in the picturesque metropolitan city of Rome. It is immersed in the fascinating context of the Mountain Community of the Lepini Mountains ‘Area Romana.’
A few kilometers away lies Lake Giulianello, which geographically and historically is located in the territory of Giulianello. A hamlet of Cori in the province of Latina. However, administratively, it is part of the territory of Artena. Beyond the man-made affiliations and conventional designations, the town and the lake are united by a pleasant stroll.
Located in the upper valley of the Sacco River, Artena stands on the first slopes of the Lepini Mountains at an elevation of 420 meters. Offering breathtaking views just 30 km south of Rome.
The name, according to the Roman historian Titus Livius, derives from the Akkadian words ‘dritto’ (straight) and ‘fiume’ (river). Referring to its elevated position in the Sacco Valley. Archaeological excavations in 1830 revealed a pre-Roman city with imposing Cyclopean walls and artifacts now housed in the archaeological museum.
Artena, captured by the Romans in 404 B.C. through the betrayal of a slave, later became Montefortino. Identified by Antonio Nibby between Ecetra and Ferentino. In the medieval period, Montefortino was the scene of anti-papal struggles and destruction. With the Colonna and Borghese families leaving their mark on its history. In 1614, Cardinal Scipione Borghese acquired the city, bringing significant improvements. And leaving an indelible imprint on the current form of Artena.
The proximity to Rome, Latina, and the Valmontone highway exit has contributed in recent years to considerable demographic and economic development.
Artena and Lago di Giulianello are connected by a road, to be leisurely walked, taking just under a quarter of an hour. Allowing oneself to be pleasantly drawn in by the expansive vistas. And the possibility of encountering mules, still used as a means of agricultural transport.
The lake is situated between the Lepini Mountains to the south and the Alban Hills to the north, amidst volcanic tuff and limestone. In Roman times, the area was part of the Fundus Julianus (an estate belonging to the Gens Julia, which gave birth to Julius Caesar).
Of pleasing scenic beauty, the site hosts a significant biodiversity of fish, birdlife, and flora, with reed beds and ancient oaks lining the shore. In 2007, the Lazio Region designated the area as a ‘Natural Monument’ to enhance and safeguard its unique features.
Visiting both Artena and Lake Giulianello together means combining different tourist interests. On one hand, the town, with its very steep slopes, boasts one of the best-preserved historic centers in Lazio. The settlement spreads through a network of alleyways with steps, featuring buildings with exposed masonry and small, narrow windows.
The configuration recalls the medieval toponym, Montefortino, resembling more of a fortress than an inhabited center. From the lower village to the fortress situated at the top, there is an elevation difference of about 150 meters. A unique characteristic shared by only a few other historic centers in the world.
On the other hand, Lake Giulianello, the third lake of the Castelli Romani, is far from tourist traffic. And an ideal destination for nature lovers who enjoy walking. The ancient history of the town and the unspoiled nature of the lake together represent a gratifying destination for visits in all seasons.