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Horace Itinerary
how to get there:
  • Leave the Roma - Firenze motorway at the exit for "Fiano Romano".
  • Follow the dual carriageway towards Passo Corese then turn left onto the 313 road towards Terni
  • Continue on this road without turning off, after 31 Km turn left onto the road for Vacone
The Horace Itinerary is in the territory of Vacone. To find out more about this area, please see the page for Vacone.
Horace Itinerary
This itinerary covers all the places that formed a backdrop to the works of the poet Quinto Orazio Flacco, known as Horace, from 33 B.C. onwards, during his stay in the Sabina. This pleasant itinerary can be followed independently by foot or by car, and the Office of Tourism and Culture of the Comune of Vacone (tel. 0746-676833) periodically organises guided tours. It should take one day at the most.

Short Biography of Horace
Horace was one of the greatest lyric poets of ancient Roman times. Born in Venosa in 65 B.C. he attended the best schools in Rome and Athens.
His economic situation, which worsened when his father's assets were confiscated, forced Horace to accept a modest job. During this time he started writing the first Satires and Epodi, which got him noticed in literary circles and led to the friendship of Virgil and of Mecenate, who, in 33 B.C., gave him a villa in Sabina where the poet could retire. In the years following he composed the Odes and the Epistole. He died in 8 A.D., just a few days after the death of Mecenate.
Horace was an elegant poet of refined expression. He also introduced many lyric metres and neologisms into Latin poetry, enriching it and bringing it to higher levels.

Guide to the Horace Itinerary
The itinerary winds through the places that can be traced as having a link to the poetry of Horace. In 1771 Cardinal Bartolomeo Piazza meticulously described these places, taking into account the opinions of his predecessors.


1) It begins at the famous villa given to the poet by Mecenate in 33 B.C. The remains visible today consist of some massive crypto-porticos, mosaics, floors in opus spigatum, a ninfeo, phallic symbols, walls in opus latericium and opus incertum, plasterwork and several structures used in the day-to-day running of the villa. From here there is a marvellous view over the valleys of Sabina.

2) From the villa you move on to the celebrated Bandusia Fountain. On the eve of the Fontanalia, a feast that fell on the 13 October, Varrone describes the throwing of garlands into springs and the crowning of wells. In his Ode, Horace promises libations of wine, crowns of flowers, and the sacrifice of a goat:

"O Bandusia spring, clear as crystal,
tomorrow I shall offer you libations of wine,
crowns of flowers and the blood of a kid
with the swelling brow of budding horns
that destines him for battles of love.
In vain, since he shall stain blood red
your icy currents.
Scorching heat does not reach you,
you with your cool waters
offer refreshment to tired oxen and the errant flock.
You too shall become one of the famous springs,
as I sing of the ilex that shades your cavern
and the rock where your murmuring waters bubble"

3) From Bandusia spring you can proceed to the village of Vacone, the probable site of a temple dedicated to the goddess Vacuna. From here you can admire an enchanting view over the Sabina, and to your right Mount Soratte, described in the celebrated Ode to Taliarco (carm. 1,9):

"See how Soratte looms
white from deep snows,
tired forests can no longer take the weight
and biting frost
halts the rivers' flow.
Loosen the cold o Taliarco,
put a load of wood on the fire,
and pour the four-year wine from the Sabine amphora..."

4) Behind the village, beneath the medieval walls of the castle, the inhabitants still celebrate a re-evocation of the feast of the goddess Vacuna (Sacra Vacunae).

From here you can see the summit of the mountain, and you can see clearly what Horace himself described as "the valleys and smooth rocks of the dry slopes".

5) The itinerary ends at the Pago, the mysterious sacred wood that is also mentioned by Pliny. This place represents something deep and ancestral for all the inhabitants of Vacone, and is still the scene of celebrations for the whole community.


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