Inhabited since prehistoric times, as testified by the remains of pile-dwelling villages found in the Lake of Mezzano, the territory of Valentano was also chosen by the Etruscans and Romans. However, the first official news of the town are recorded during the Middle Ages and exactly in the year 813 where, on the Regesto di Farfa, appears the name of Balentanu. The origin of the name is still unclear, but it is possible that it comes from the name of a rich landowner named Valente, to which the suffix 'ano', or 'property of', was added. Towards the middle of the 14th century, the village became the property of the Farnese family, who settled permanently in the Rocca, donated to them by Cardinal Albornoz, until the first half of the 18th century, when the building was converted into a monastery.
The delightful historical centre of Valentano is worth a visit and rises around Piazza Cavour, the heart of the small town. Here you can admire the Palazzo Comunale and the eighteenth-century Porta Magenta. One of the most famous buildings are the Rocca and the Castello Farnese, both built in the year 1000.
The Castle, after a restoration during the seventies of the last century, became the seat of the Museum of Prehistory of Tuscia, to which an important library is annexed.
What to see
The urban layout of the village, dating back to medieval times, offers the visitor a series of attractions that make a visit to the town interesting. One characteristic of Valentano is the many churches that rise inside the ancient village. Among those suggested for a visit is the Collegiate Church of San Giovanni Apostolo, which is located in the immediate vicinity of the Rocca Farnese, built in the twelfth century, in Piazza della Vittoria. Also attractive is the 15th-century Church of Santa Maria, located halfway along the main street, which houses a fresco of some importance depicting the Madonna della Rosa.
The historical buildings are also worth a visit, such as the Palazzo del Comune, built in the Renaissance style and characterised by the Farnese and Martino V Colonna friezes on the portico. What the locals call the Porta del Mascherone, which is actually Porta Magenta, is a very significant architectural element, also because it was built according to a design by Vignola. Palazzo dei Vitozzi is also worth seeing because of its windows surrounded by a frame made of volcanic stone. The ancient Palazzo Cruciani, where Paolo Ruffini, a well-known mathematician, was born, is also interesting.
What to do
Valentano is a very quiet but also very lively village. As a matter of fact, the events that the village hosts during the whole year are very interesting, among which we point out the Palio delle Contrade, or Palio del Ducato di Castro, that takes place between the months of July and August and that sees, in addition to an equestrian competition where the representatives of the various districts take part, also a historical procession that involves a great part of the population.
The traditions are jealously guarded by the inhabitants of the village of Valentano, who are particularly keen to keep alive the evocative procession of the Via Crucis that passes through all the streets of the centre. On Easter Monday, however, the Festa dell'Annunziata is held at Villa Fontane, a festival with many popular games involving the population. Obviously, the Feast in honour of the co-patron saint, San Giustino, which takes place after the Feast of the Assumption, is also held in due consideration because it attracts many curious people from all over the territory.
In Valentano there are many places where you can taste the local food and wine specialities. In fact, there are several restaurants, taverns and trattorias that include in their offer, first courses such as tagliatelle and ravioli - strictly homemade - with different condiments able to satisfy every taste, as well as grilled meats and homemade desserts. Gourmets will not fail to express their approval of home-made dishes prepared with genuine ingredients and served in abundance. During the appropriate seasons, it is possible to enjoy mushrooms and local vegetables while enjoying the breathtaking view.