Altilia Saepinum, Italy. 2018

Date:  31st August 2018

Travelled:  138 kilometres Monte Cassino in Lazio to Sepino in Campania, Italy.

Visited:  The Abbey of Monte Cassino and the archiological site at Altilia Saepinum 

Stayed:  Altilia Saepinum car-park, free. No services. N41.43228, E14.61656

Budget:  90 days @ €96 per day.


Finally the last visitor left the Polish cemetery and they locked the gate.  It was another quiet night, except the barking dog from Vesuvios has followed us to the Monte Cassino and started barking here at the same time.  We are starting to think Italian dogs are a pain in the arse.  Other than that it was a good night and obviously free.

The abbey opens at 8.45am so we have our coffee and fruit before locking up and walking up the hill.  No point driving up 500 metres and having to pay for parking.  Given we are over budget on this year’s trip, thanks to some expensive ferries and 3-4 weeks in campsites with the air-conditioner running, we are hoping to get back to the low €90’s by the time we head home.  This means I will be giving Pam haircuts from now on.


Get Directions


Walking up to the Abbey. The Abbey here was founded in 529AD on the remnants of a Roman fortification pre-dating Christ.


As soon as we enter the Abbey we walk into the first cloister surrounded by a beautiful set of arched porticos.


The second cloister, titled Bramante. It provides an amazing view across the valley beyond.  Keep in mind the entire Abbey was leveled by allied bombing and artilery in 1944.



Inside the Basilca Cathedral, amazing inlay of marble and artwork.



Below the Basilica the centre vault.



The smallest and oldest cloister in the Abbey, dating back to the 8-9th century.


We go on to visit the museum (€5pp), which was interesting but very extensive.


So our visit to the abbey complete we walk down to the Hymer and prepare to depart Cassino heading east along the SS6.  We find a Lidl as we drive out of Cassino, restock the shelf and continue.  The Lonely Planet recommends the drive from Saepinum to Sulmona through the heart of central Italy.  Before we start the drive we want to visit the ruins of Altilia Saepinum first.  Described as one of the best preserved but least visited roman era ruins.


Get Directions


Altilia Saepinum developed as a roman trading outpost in the 3rd century BC.  Pam relaxes with the Alter (later to become the Basilca) in the background.  Only vestal virgins need to feel uncomfortable here.



The ruins of the macellum or market hall.  This stone font marking the centre.


Looking along one of the central roads to a Porta Bojano.  A cluster of ruins of small houses on the left.


Two of the original Porte or gates still have a lot of detail.


Shaped in a basic square 1200m x 1200m the defensive walls were 6 metres high. Significant sections of the walls remain on two sides.


A set of double arches mark the entrance to the theatre.


The theatre. The surrounding buildings were added over the original covered walkways. They include a museum and offices. Part of a clumsy preservation project some 30 years ago.


Looking across the forum, the columns of the basilica in the background.


Some 250 metres outside the town walls, a mauseleum to a significant family. With the collapse of the roman empire, the town was sacked by the Arabs in the 4th century AD. The town was then abandoned.


After a long walk about Altilia Saepinum we decide to stay overnight in the little car-park. Being free it ticked the major box.


So another interesting day slips by, not always to the keeper but to the ancient peoples of Italy in this case.





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