Historically, the narrow gorge of the Laia River represented a strategic route connecting the Italian regions of Lazio and Umbria, as well as the historical territory of Sabina with the Tiber River valley. In the 13th century two fortified settlements were built on either side of the gorge. Today one of those is the small village of Rocchette, while the other, Rocchettine, has become a ghost town.
Rocchettine was originally known as Rocca Guidonesca, perhaps named after the Guidoneschi family. Over time the population dwindled, and by the 1950s the settlement was completely uninhabited. Although its state of conservation is poor, it is still quite exciting to explore the empty village filled with the ruins of houses, walls, and towers. Several houses appear to have been built after the abandonment of the village, but little else is known of the fate of the community of Rocchettine. The only full building is the restored Church of San Lorenzo with its late-Baroque façade and bell tower. It is usually closed to the public.
On the other side of the river lies Rocchette in Sabina, originally known instead as Rocca Bertalda. Nowadays it is a quiet agricultural hamlet that is part of the nearby town of Torri in Sabina.
The history of the two settlements is closely tied to the fortunes of the church and the powerful nobility of Rome, such as the Savelli and the Orsini families. It is likely that the strategic importance of the site dwindled from the 18th century onwards.
Rocchettine was recently featured as a set in Il Nome della Rosa (The Name of the Rose), a 2018 television series produced by the Italian national broadcaster RAI, which featured John Turturro and Rupert Everett.
Know Before You Go
Access to the abandoned village is free and easy. You can either walk a short trail from Rocchette in Sabina or drive the tarred road that crosses the gorge, take a left turn a hundred metres before Rocchette (as you are coming from Torri in Sabina), which leads you to the bridge below and then follow the road to the entrance of Rocchettine (which is visibile on the left).