Travelers following the road along the artificial lake of Turano will notice an impressive peak overlooking the water and the nearby historical village of Castel di Tora. On top of this hill, which can be reached by a narrow isthmus, lie the remains of an abandoned village known locally as Antuni.
The village of Antuni is one of many historic strongholds in the valley, which was often marked by conflicts and invasions, being located on the border between the Papal States and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. As in other fortified places, its ownership was contested by different families over the centuries, such as the Brancaleoni, the Cesarini, the Mattei, the Lante della Rovere, and many others.
In the late 1930s, the region was significantly affected by the construction of two artificial basins, Lago del Salto and Lago del Turano. Their purpose was to solve the problem of flooding in the Rieti valley as well as generate hydroelectric power. As a result, however, much fertile land was lost and the inhabitants of Antuni and other nearby towns started to abandon the region. Some of the ruins of the houses and buildings that were destroyed by the lake can still be seen from the hilltop village of Antuni.
More trouble was not far behind. In the late 1940s, following a devastating bombing by U.S. airplanes during World War II (who were targeting the lake’s bridges), the village of Antuni was entirely abandoned by its remaining inhabitants. It lay in ruins for the next five decades, until the town of Castel di Tora purchased the village in the 1990s and restored some of the buildings. It turned the most impressive structure, the Palazzo del Drago, with its frescoes and 365 windows, into an art exhibition center and museum.
The museum is one of many interesting sights to explore in the area today. A short walk from the trail climbing up to Antuni also leads to the small hermitage of San Salvatore, where you can visit a cave adorned with 17th-century frescoes.
Know Before You Go
Antuni can only be visited on guided tours that must be booked on the Camminandocon website in advance. They are generally held on Sundays at 10 a.m. between June and September. It's a steep 15-minute hike up to the ruins.