Celleno the Ghost Town
Spirits of the past, harpies and cherries.
What it is and where it is
Scent of hay and plowed earth, of tapering cypresses and leafy oaks, of rows of cherry trees and green valleys. It is a generous nature that captures our senses and leads us enraptured to a small village perched on a spur of tuff. It stands between two streams that flow into the blond Tiber, a small joy that embellishes the territory of Tuscia viterbese.
Why it is special
From behind its tuff walls there is little or no noise coming in. And so it is that one enters its little-trodden alleys, among ancient buildings in ruins, abandoned by their inhabitants, but not forgotten. This evocative space, so charged with stories of art and life, has been partially restored to host exhibitions and events that seem to dance on a breathtaking panorama.
Not to be missed
Celleno is famous for the cultivation of cherries, a product that has officially obtained the designation "Ciliegia di Celleno." Between March and April the area is filled with the scent and colors of cherry blossoms: it is the time of the "Sakura Cellenese." The Long-stem Ravenna and Short-stem Ravenna, with their sweet flavor and ruby red color, are the two main varieties grown in Celleno. Dedicated to this beautiful fruit and its plant is the Celleno Cherry Ecomuseum and the recently expanded Cherry Garden with some flowering qualities.
A bit of history
Recent archaeological findings confirm the Etruscan origin (4th-3rd centuries B.C.) of Celleno Vecchio. The construction of an early fortified center is dated between the 10th and 11th centuries by the Counts of Bagnoregio. Over the centuries it came under the influence of Viterbo, then the Gatti family, the Orsini family, whose name the castle still bears, and at the end of the 16th century it came into the hands of the Pope, who administered it until the Unification of Italy. Beginning in the 1930s, strong earthquakes and landslides caused the gradual abandonment and depopulation of Celleno, which today is a small, picturesque ghost town.
Between real and imaginary, some famous names connected with Celleno can be named. Some scholarly sources, for example, would trace the origin of the name to "Celeno," one of the three Harpies of Greek mythology. In more recent times and definitely more anchored in reality, it was a famous painter who settled in the village. In 1973, in fact, the castle was purchased by Enrico Castellani, who restored it and made it his home until his passing in 2017.
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