REGIONAL NATURAL RESERVE MONTAGNE DELLA DUCHESSA
A SHORT ACCOUNT ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE CICOLANO AREA
The regional reserve "Montagne della Duchessa" is located in the administrative province of Rieti, in the Lazio Region. Under a geographic and historic point of view, the reserve territory is part of the Cicolano, which is the eastern extreme end of the Lazio, on the slopes of central Apennines. The Cicolano is 446.37 km2 and includes four administrative units (municipalities): Borgorose, Petrella Salto, Pescorocchiano and Fiamignano.
Before the Roman age the Cicolano was inhabited by the "Equicoli" (Aequiculi), from which the name "Cicoli" derives according to some medieval sources. Accordino to Alvino (2004), the name "Equicoli" refers to people living along the Salto River valley and deriving from the Aequi population, whose original area of occupancy was much more extended before the Roman conquest.
The Aequii inhabited the Cicolano area probably from the IX century b. C. Tito Livio (Ab Urbe condita) describes the Equicoli as a fierce and violent population, strongly hostile to Romans.
The Equicoli founded some important villages and towns:
- - Nersae: it was probably located near the modern village of Nesce (municipality of Pescorocchiano); it is mentioned by Virgilio in the Aeneid (VII, 746 et seq.) and it was the main town of the Equicoli; in the hamlet of Civitella you can find some well-preserved Cyclopean masonries.
- - Orvinio: it is mentioned by Dionigi di Alicarnasso; the remains are located in Corvaro and include some Cyclopean masonries, tombs, temples and aqueducts;
- - Tiora Matiena: in the past it was known for the prophecies dealt by Mars under the appearance of a woodpecker;
- - Alba Fucens: this important town was located on the edge between the Equicoli territory and the Marsi territory; according to the oldest historic sources, Alba Fucens was founded by the Equicoli, not to the Marsi.
In 304 b. C. the Equicoli were subdued by the Romans; what you can see now in the archaeological site of Alba Fucens is totally part of the Roman colony. The Romans eliminated most of the Equicoli and transferred in the region many settlers.
During the Roman age many roads connected all the villages; the most important road run across the Salto River valley up to Alba Fucens.
In the Augustan age the territory was divided in two municipia, Cliternia (identified with Capradosso) and res publica Aequiculorum, a group of little villages whose reference centre was Nesce (former Nersae).
From the VII - VIII centuries the monks and in general the religious authorities took the responsibility of local people (cura animarum) in the Salto River valley; from 1153 many "pievi" were established in the Cicolano: Santa Maria in Fosso (Mercato di Fiamignano), Santo Stefano di Cliviano (Corvaro di Borgorose), San Leonardo (Cartore di Borgorose).
By the end of the IX century the Saracens began to invade the Cicolano and sacked many towns. As a consequence, local people began to retreat in castles and fortifications; in fact from the X century the castle of Torano, Corvaro and Castel Menardo were built. In the same period (X - XI centuries) the Cicolano were included in the Forcena County, and from the beginning of the XII century the area came under the jurisdiction of the bishops of Rieti. In the half of the XIII century, during the reign of Federico II di Svevia the Salto River valley was annexed to the Abruzzi province. After the fall of this reign, the Cicolano area was dominated by a single, very powerful family, Mareri. In 1532 the Mareri sold the county to the Colonna family, another very powerful family with properties in all the Lazio region. In 1661 the Colonna handed over the Cicolano area to the Napoli reign, which in turn sold it in 1663 to the Barberini family.
At the beginning of the XIX century, during the French rule, the Cicolano remained under the Napoli reign. In this period the administrative borders between municipalities were fixed, dividing the territory in 4 municipalities: Petrella dei Cicoli (named today Petrella Salto), Pescorocchiano, Borgocollefegato (today Borgorose), and Mercato (today Fiamignano).
In 1815 the Cicolano was included in the Abruzzi region under the district of Cittaducale. In 1927, with the administrative readjustment requested by Mussolini, all the area was assigned to Lazio region, in the Rieti province.
Tito Livio, Ab Urbe condita. Libro IX, cap. 45.
Alvino G., 2004. Gli Equicoli. In: Alvino G. (a cura di), 2004. Gli Equicoli, i guerrieri delle montagne. Ministero per i beni e le attivita culturali, Soprintendenza per i beni archeologici del Lazio. Comune di Borgorose & Roma.