Imagine an ancient civilization with a gigantic temple larger than the Colosseum. The ancient city of Praeneste flourished well before Rome and was considered one of the world’s most important cities of its time. People travelled from far away to visit and consult the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia. Today, the modern town of Palestrina sits atop the temple remains.
The extensive nature of this temple complex wasn’t realized until WWII, when bombings exposed some of the temple foundations.
What’s remarkable about Palestrina is that it’s not well-known, despite its legitimate historical and architectural significance. Therefore it’s a wonderful place to visit if you’d like to experience Roman ruins in solitude without other tourists.
Some of the ruins as well as the city’s ancient walls are still visible and accessible. A flight of stairs just off Palestrina’s central square leads to the open space that was the heart of the temple complex. Here you can view evidence of thousands of years of building as well as an actual mosaic of fish still in its original position. Astonishing!
For a more organized experience, a comprehensive archaeology museum housed in the former Barberini Palace contains many artifacts, relics, and mosaics plus a scale replica of the temple. Again, it’s a luxury to be able to spend time reviewing and contemplating the collections without the distractions of other visitors.
Palestrina is also notable as the birthplace of renowned sacred music composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Considered to be the master of counterpoint and polyphony, he composed hundreds of masses, madrigals, magnificats, and motets. A small museum focusing on Pierluigi and his works is located in the center of town.
Palestrina is located 15 minutes’ away from Olive Tree Hill. Contact us to arrange an excursion to enjoy this special town, its historical treasures and the stunning views of the surrounding river valleys.