Lazio (pronounced [ˈlattsjo], Latin: Latium, English: Latium) is a region of west central Italy, bordered by Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche to the north, Abruzzo and Molise to the east, Campania to the south, and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west. It is the region of Rome, capital of Italy.
Lazio is classified as being in the Centre territorial unit of Italy by the European Union, with a code of ITE.
Climate and Geography
Lazio contains 4,491 km2 (1,734 sq mi) of mountains (montagna), 9,291 km2 (3,587 sq mi) of hills (collina) and 3,424 km2 (1,322 sq mi) of plains (pianura). The term plains in this context refers to coastal land of mean elevation zero, some a few feet above and some a few feet below sea level. Inland of the coastal plains in the north is a landform termed the hills, or colli, which are intermediate to the mountains. Generally they are subsumed under the name of the Roman Campagna. It does not exist in the south. Inland of the hills or the coastal zone are the mountains.
The coast of Lazio is low-lying with sandy beaches, punctuated by the headlands of Circeo (541 m) and Gaeta (171 m). The Pontine Islands, which are part of Latium, lie opposite the southern coast. Behind the coastal strip, to the north are found: the Maremma Laziale (the continuation of Tuscan Maremma), interrupted at Civitavecchia by the Tolfa Mountains (616 m), in the centre by the Roman Campagna and to the south by Agro Pontino and its continuation south of Terracina, the South Pontino. This area, once swampy and malarial, was reclaimed over the centuries for population and agriculturalization.
The Latium Preapennines, marked by the Tiber valley and the Liri with the Sacco tributary, includes on the right of the Tiber, three groups of mountains of volcanic origin: the Volsini, Cimini and Sabatini, whose principal craters are occupied by the Bolsena, Vico and Bracciano lakes. To the south of the Tiber other mountain groups form part of the Preapennines: the Alban Hills, also of volcanic origin, and the calcareous Lepini, Ausoni and Aurunci Mountains. The Latium Apennines are part of the Abruzzo Apennines: the Reatini Mountains with Terminillo (2,213 m), Mounts Sabini, Prenestini, Simbruini and Ernici which continue east of the Liri into the Mainarde Mountains. The highest peak is Gorzano Mount (2,458 m) on the border with Abruzzo.
The Italian word Lazio descends from the Latin word Latium. The name of the region also survives in the tribal designation of the ancient population of Latins, Latini in the Latin language spoken by them and passed on to the city-state of Ancient Rome. Although the demography of ancient Rome was multi-ethnic, including, for example, Etruscans and other Italics besides the Latini, the latter were the dominant constituent. In Roman mythology, the tribe of the Latini took their name from king Latinus. Apart from the mythical derivation of Latium given by the ancients as the place where Jupiter "lay hid" from his father seeking to kill him, a major modern etymology is that Latium comes from the Latin word "latus", meaning "wide", expressing the idea of "flat land" meaning the Roman Campagna. Much of Latium is in fact flat or rolling. The lands originally inhabited by the Latini were extended into the territories of the Samnites, the Marsi, the Hernici, the Aequi, the Aurunci and the Volsci, all surrounding Italic tribes. This larger territory was still called Latium, but it was divided into Latium adiectum or Latium Novum, the added lands or New Latium, and Latium Vetus, or Old Latium, the older, smaller region.
The emperor Augustus officially united all of present-day Italy into a single geo-political entity, Italia, dividing it into eleven regions. Latium - together with the present region of Campania immediately to the southeast of Latium and the seat of Naples - became Region I.
After the Gothic War (535-554) and the Byzantine conquest, this region regained its freedom, because the "Roman Duchy" became the property of the Eastern Emperor. However the long wars against the barbarian Longobards weakened the region, which was seized by the Roman Bishop who already had several properties in those territories.
The strengthening of the religious and ecclesiastical aristocracy led to continuous power struggles between lords and the Roman bishop until the middle of the XVI century. Innocent III tried to strengthen his own territorial power, wishing to assert his authority in the provincial administrations of Tuscia, Campagna and Marittima through the Church's representatives, in order to reduce the power of the Colonna family. Other popes tried to do the same.
During the period when the papacy resided in Avignon, France (1309–1377), the feudal lords' power increased due to the absence of the Pope from Rome. Small communes, and Rome above all, opposed the lords' increasing power, and with Cola di Rienzo, they tried to present themselves as antagonists of the ecclesiastical power. However, between 1353 and 1367, the papacy regained control of Latium and the rest of the Papal States.
From the middle of the 16th century, the papacy politically unified Latium with the Papal States, so that these territories became provincial administrations of St. Peter's estate; governors in Viterbo, in Marittima and Campagna, and in Frosinone administered them for the papacy.
After the short-lived Roman Republic and the region's annexation to France, by Napoleon I, Latium became again part of the Papal States. In 1870 when the French troops abandoned Rome, General Cadorna entered the pontifical territory, occupying Rome on 20 September, and Latium was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy.
- Canellino di Frascati
- Cesanese del Piglio or Piglio
- Frascati Superiore
- Aleatico di Gradoli
- Bianco Capena
- Castelli Romani
- Cesanese di Affile or Affile
- Cesanese di Olevano Romano or Olevano Romano
- Colli Albani
- Colli della Sabina
- Colli Etruschi Viterbesi
- Colli Lanuvini
- Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone
- Montecompatri Colonna
- Civitella d'Agliano
- Colli Cimini
- Frusinate or del Frusinate
Grapes and wines
Grape growing and wine making were well known to the Romans who produced excellent wines since Imperial times. The whites are the predominant variety — out of 25 DOC wines produced in the region, 20 are white.
Mostly Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes and, in lesser quantity, Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay and Voigner among the white and Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot, Cesanese, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese and Montepulciano, ripen along the volcanic slopes of the Colli Albani and other areas with soil rich in phosphorous and potassium salts.
Rome's region is intrinsically lined to white wine - to Frascati and Marino and the other golden-hued "bianchi" of the Castelli Romani and to the fabled Est!Est!!Est!!! from the northern Latium town of Montefiascone. These wines, which are based almost exclusive on various types of Malvasia andTrebbiano, were traditionally "abboccato", mouth filling, though not so sweet as the overwhelm the flavour of food. They were easy, everday wines not designed to last long of travel far.
The introduction of low temperature processing and sterile filtration have transformed their pesonalities into dryer, crisper, lighter, more durable wines with a propensity to travel that has opened up new commercial horizons. Still, with only the occasional exception, the whites of Latium are pleasantly fleshy and fruity, wines that go enticingly well with a great range of foods but are not the sort to be laid away or fussed over.
Their immediacy is byno means a negative attribute, as evidenced by the established world market for Frascati (which ranks in the top ten DOCs in volume with nearly 20 million litres a year). Marino and less publicised but worthy neighbors in Colli Albani, Colli Lanuvini and Montecompatri-Colonna. Though some admirers argue that the fuller, stronger "abboccato" or "cannellino" versions are what Malvasia is all about, the world's consumers seem to prefer them softly dry.
The ancient Romans drank white wines, too, though Horace and company reserved their greatest praise for the red Falernum and Caecubum - which were grown along the southern coast near Gaeta and Sperlonga. Even today, though white wine accounts for an overwhelming share of the region's production, certain of Latium's red wines seem to be more convincing to connoisseurs.
The DOC reds vary in composition. Aprilia, in the reclaimed stretches of what were once the Pontine Marshes, turns out considerable quantities of Merlot and Sangiovese. The reds of Cerveteri, Cori and Velletri are based on Montepulciano and Sangiovese. The native Cesanese makes richly flavoured dry and sweet wines in the three DOC zones of the Prenestina and Ciociaria hills southeast of Rome. Aleatico makes a Port-like dessert on the northern shores of Lake Bolsena at Gradoli.
Cabernet and Merlot are the stars in three highly praised modern "vini da tavola" of Latium, in Fiorano Rosso and Colle Picchioni from just south of Rome and in Torre Ercolana, which combines the French varieties with Cesanese, at the hill town of Anagni. Latium's modern Falernum is based on Aglianico and Caecubum, now called Cecubo, is made up of the local Abbuoto with some Negroamaro. These reds, and others, prove that the fortunes of premium wine production in Latium are not entirely white.