Linked by a strong rural and artisanal tradition, Gavignano and Alatri are the two easternmost municipalities of the MuseumGrandTour Museum System. This itinerary takes our visitors on a journey to discover the history and local traditions of two towns located on the border between the provinces of Rome and Frosinone, revealing anecdotes and myths of their origins.
We begin in Gavignano, a municipality of just under 2,000 inhabitants located in the Monti Lepini where the Rio and Sacco rivers meet. Its Roman origins are confirmed by the presence of numerous archaeological finds in the Rossilli area – including a mosaic of Alexandrian origin – and the documented presence of numerous patrician villas along the consular roads. The peak of the town’s development, however, occurred in the Middle Ages when numerous churches and abbeys were built, including the renowned and still-standing Rossilli Abbey. These were coupled with the building of castles and strongholds which resulted in Gavignano taking on the appearance of a castrum with walls and a mastio (tower) around which the Palazzo Baronale was later built. Of notable grandeur, it was remodeled several times over the centuries to the point that the history of its construction accompanied the construction of the town, with Amato Conti (1044), Innocent III (1161) and Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini (1621) each taking turns in the residence. The tour starts at Porta Napoletana where our visitor plunges into the narrow streets of a marvelous medieval town centre made of local stone, enjoying the view of numerous manor houses and buildings. Strolling through the streets, the attentive tourist becomes immediately aware of the peculiar juxtaposition of the cluster of small medieval houses of two, or at most, three storeys on one side, and the grand scale of Palazzo Baiocchi on the west side and Palazzo Traietto on the south-east side of the town. In the heart of Gavignano is the Museum of Rural Life, housed in the Palazzo di Corte. Created with the intention of reconstructing the history of rural and artisan life at the beginning of the 20th century as opposed to a simple exhibition of objects, the museum is a place to experience a distant way of life as if it were alive and near. Several exhibition spaces recreate the aspects of life dedicated to the work, home and care of family of the first inhabitants of Gavignano and the neighbouring villages that became autonomous after the unification of Italy. The objects chosen as representative of 20th-century rural everyday life are the plough, the clock and the bell. Following these are spaces dedicated to the typical work of the period and a second room dedicated to the reconstruction of the humble rural home environment and the traditional work of the housewife. Finally, the last rooms are dedicated to entertainment and the choral and musical arts.