Around 35km northeast of Palestrina, SUBIACO is beautifully set around a hill topped by the Rocca Abbazia castle, and close to Monte Liviato – one of Lazio’s premier ski resorts. Purpose-built for workmen on Nero’s grand villa (very meagre traces of which survive), Subiaco became the contemplative base of St Benedict in the fifth century. The hermit dwelled in a mountain cave here for three years, before leaving to found the monastery at Montecassino, but his legacy continues today in the shape of two monastic complexes just outside town. There’s nothing much to the town centre – the nicest bit is arguably the riverside, where there’s a crumbling medieval bridge over the fast-flowing Aniene, footpaths, and even the chance to go canoeing; international competitions  take place here in the first half of May.

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