Giuseppe Vasi's Digression - Nemi
Nemi is perhaps the smallest of the Castelli Romani, as its location upon a precipice limited its development.
While the names of other towns in the area are associated with wines, Nemi is associated with very small strawberries and in May all restaurants in
Rome offer on their menus Fragoline di Nemi. For a view of the lake of Nemi see the page on Genzano.
The main building of Nemi is the Ruspoli palace named after the family which acquired the fief of Nemi in the XVIIIth century. The coat of arms of the Ruspoli, known as Princes of Vignanello, seems to promote the agricultural richness of the area. The façade of the palace has a neat Renaissance design.
The building however has also a medieval aspect enhanced by the circular tower which ensured its defence. Nemi belonged to the Orsini, a family which challenged the power of the Colonna, who possessed most of the Castelli Romani.
Nemi has some fine XVIIth (S. Maria dell'Assunta) and XVIIIth (Palazzo Municipale) century additions, a sign that the town was cared for by its ruling family.
Immediately outside Nemi there is a sanctuary founded in 1637, but which became famous in 1669, when a miracle occurred. A Franciscan monk had sculptured a Crucifix on a piece of wood he had brought from Palestine, but he felt unable to give shape to the face of Christ and after praying for help, he fell asleep. At dawn, when he woke up, he discovered that the Crucifix had a face.
The sanctuary was visited by Pope Paulus VI in 1969, one of the first travels by a pope outside the Vatican in the XXth century. Although in 1929 Italy and the Vatican had reached agreement on settling the disputes arising from the Italian annexation in 1870 of the Papal State, the popes had refrained from moving outside the boundaries the City of the Vatican and the other sites belonging to it. An exception occurred in July 1943, when Pope Pius XII visited S. Lorenzo fuori le mura destroyed by war events. A change in this policy was introduced by Pope Johannes XXIII who visited Loreto and to a greater scale by his successor Pope Paulus VI who went to Jerusalem and Antiochia and delivered a speech at the United Nations in New York. The image used as a background for this page shows a mosaic with the coat of arms of Pope Paulus VI celebrating the visit.
Read Lord Byron's verses dedicated to Nemi.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Next step in your tour of the Environs of Rome: Genzano
See my Home Page on Baroque Rome or my Home Page on Rome in the footsteps of an XVIIIth century traveller.