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A Cats Town

One of the most beautiful medieval towns I have ever seen… If you look from far away, Calcata looks like a little drum of rocks. Nature, history, and a true cats town. Seriously, cats everywhere!

The town is filled with little alleys in a constant latch shape, often colored by naïf windows and curtains, theater masks, statues on the balconies, and flowers everywhere. In few words, it is the place that you reach by chance or because someone told you about it.

Season veggies beautifully displayed.

Short history of Calcata

History finds the origins Calcata from around the year 1200 B.C., with first evidences dated by the establishment of Narce, located behind the village of Calcata, which documents already in the thirteenth century BC, while the area was under the control of the Falisci ( exonym for an Italic people who lived in what was then known as Etruria). Then it was with Pope Adriano I (years 772-795 AD) that the name Calcata appeared for the first time. In late thirteen century, Calcata was owned a noble family from Anguillara which built its high walls.

Also, after 1527 AD, the Holy Prepuce of Jesus was kept here in Calcata until late 1800’s where it mysteriously disappeared.

After World War II, as it happened in many mountain villages, people left to bigger cities. As of 1970’s though, tourists, hippies and foreigners felt attracted by the isolated beauty of Calcata and so it was that hippies found their dimension, right here.

The unique pink store filled with hippie vibe.

Now there are only few people living there, no more than 70 in fact, and since the rocks where this lovely town is perched on is crumbling away, from the 1960s people moved to new settlement downstream of Parco Valle della Treja.

Cats of Calcata

You can love them or even, sometimes, detest them especially for their placid indifference to things of our daily life. But, undoubtedly, cats have their charm.

Spooky cat sign.

One of the things that make Calcata so famous is the outstanding presence: there is no corner, vase or low wall from where you cannot see a tail, a pair of ears and a pair of curious eyes. Photographers will find in the little alleys at least one willing cat to pose as a model. Cats in Calcata share the same territory with with some small dogs that roam the village, which happens when the owners open their doors to them or let them live outside. In few words, Old Calcata  has been secretly divided by both races without there being “dangerous” encounters.

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The Smallest Church Ever

I do not have knowledge of a smaller church but in Calcata I found a tiny church where no more than six people can get it:

Where to eat

I normally don’t promote places to eat or sleep unless there’s something really about them.

If there is one place you must stop for a bite in Calcata, is this: the Latteria del Gatto Nero (the Dairy Store of the Black Cat):

Here you can eat typical Italian treats, cheese, cold meats, pasta. Notice the cat theme in display.

If you calk only a little bit towards your right, you will find a quasi-royal gallery dedicated entirely to cats

The center of the town is reachable only by walk. Pretty little alleys, small stairs and doors… You can’t miss the elders checking on passing people and making comments about them.

Some of the Legends…

1. According to an ancient legend, the holy foreskin of Jesus Christ is kept in the church of Calcata. After the discovery of the sacred relic, the Church decided to grant a 10-year indulgence to the pilgrims who arrived in Calcata to venerate it.

2. In Calcata, isolation is absolute: they do not take cell phones, there are no social networks, no networks.

3. One of the most striking places is the Tea Room, where you can choose from 100 different varieties of tea.

4. The foreigners who populate Calcata are the descendants of the lords who bought the houses for little money after the evacuation of the village was arranged in 1935.

5. In very windy days you might be able to perceive a strange noise often attributed to a song of old witches.

6. According to ancient beliefs referable even to the ancient Falisci, Calcata would be the nerve center of primitive energies coming from the subsoil: hence all the rumors about witchcraft and occultism.

7. Stay in Calcata? You can. The village is full of small houses for rent and Air B&B rentals for a few days at a reasonable price. The most crowded period? Halloween, of course.

By:

Italian-Chilean travel writer, photographer & culture enthusiast with a penchant for la dolce vita and a severe case of wanderlust.

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