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This article is about the Italian city. For the composer, see Vittorio Rieti.
Not to be confused with the Rietti family.
Comune di Rieti
Bell tower of St. Mary Cathedral
Bell tower of St. Mary Cathedral
Flag of Rieti
Coat of arms of Rieti
Coat of arms
Rieti is located in Italy
Location of Rieti in Italy
Coordinates: 42°24′N 12°52′E / 42.400°N 12.867°E / 42.400; 12.867Coordinates: 42°24′N 12°52′E / 42.400°N 12.867°E / 42.400; 12.867
Country Italy
Region Lazio
Province / Metropolitan city Rieti (RI)
Frazioni Case San Benedetto, Casette, Castelfranco, Cerchiara, Chiesa Nuova, Cupaello, Lisciano, Lugnano, Maglianello, Moggio, Piane di Poggio Fidoni, Piani di Sant'Elia, Piè di Moggio, Poggio Fidoni, Poggio Perugino, San Giovanni Reatino, Sant'Elia, Vaiano, Vazia
 • Mayor Simone Petrangeli (SEL)
 • Total 206.52 km2 (79.74 sq mi)
Elevation 405 m (1,329 ft)
Population (30 April 2008)
 • Total 47,745
 • Density 230/km2 (600/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Reatini
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 02100
Dialing code 0746
Patron saint St. Barbara
Saint day December 4
Website Official website

Rieti (Italian: [ˈrjɛːti]; Latin: Rĕā́tĕ) is a city and comune in Lazio, central Italy, with a population of c. 47,700. It is the capital of province of Rieti.

The town centre rests on a small hilltop, commanding a wide plain at the southern edge of an ancient lake. The area is now the fertile basin of the Velino River. Only the small Ripasottile and Lungo lakes remain of the original large one.



According to the legend, Reate was founded by Rea, a divinity (that would be the origin of the town name). It was founded at the beginning of the Iron Age (IX-VIII century b.C.).

Probably in earlier times the lands around Rieti were inhabited by Umbri, then by Aborigines and later on by Sabines, who reached the lands sited in the nearby of Tevere river.

Ancient era[edit]

Remains of the Roman Bridge (3rd century BC)

Reate was originally a major site of the Sabine nation well before the foundation of Rome. According to the legend, when Romulus founded Rome, Romans kidnapped Sabine women in order to populate the town (The Rape of the Sabine Women). So there was a war between Romans and Sabines. Battle of the Lacus Curtius came to an end only when the women threw themselves among the armies, begging for people who were by then relatives to stop fighting. Romulus and Titus Tatius reprieved and a collaboration between the two people started. Actually, according to a version more based on history, Sabines settled on the Quirinale because of their continous need and search for plain grazing-lands.

After the definitive Roman conquest, carried out by Manius Curius Dentatus in the late 3rd century BC (290 BC), the village became a strategic point in the early Italian road network, dominating the "salt" track (known as Via Salaria) that linked Rome to the Adriatic Sea through the Apennines. Many lands of Reate and Amiternum were confiscated and allocated to Romans. At the very beginning, Sabines were offered roman citizenship but with no right of voting, but yet in 268 BC they gained the full citizenship, being included in two new tribes (Velina and Quirina).

Curius Dentatus drained a large portion of the lake by making the Velino a distributary of the Nera river (thus giving birth to Marmore falls). The wide area once occupied by the lake turned into a fertile plain. Following Roman customs, the land was split into characteristic square allotments. The town itself underwent significant development, being re-organised according to typical Roman urbanistic standards (e.g., two orthogonal roads make up the settlement's backbone), and was fortified with strong walls. A stone bridge was laid across the Velino river, and a large viaduct was built to bring goods from the Salaria road directly to Rieti's southern door.

Roman Reate receives a number of mentions in Latin literature, thanks to its flourishing soil, its valued assets, and some peculiarities of the surroundings (such as wandering islands and hollow-subsurfaced fields). Cicero, for instance, describes the tensions between Reate and Interamna (Terni) following the lake drainage, and refers to the country houses (villae) that his friend Q. Axius owned in the plain.

One of the most important Sabine family gaining success in Rome was the Gens Flavia, from which Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus (who started the building of Colosseum, also known as amphitheatrum flavius) had birth.

The Reatin poet and writer Marcus Terentius Varro was born in 116 BC and he's usually referred to as the father of Roman erudition.

Middle Ages[edit]

The medieval walls.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire Rieti suffered destruction by Barbarians, but never ceased to be an important gastaldate during the Lombard domination, as part of the Duchy of Spoleto. Under the Franks, it was county capital. It was sacked by the Saracens in the 9th and 10th century and by the Norman king Roger II of Sicily in 1149.

The city was rebuilt with the help of the Roman comune, and from 1198 was also a free commune, of Guelph orientation, with a podestà of its own.

As a favourite Papal seat, Rieti was the place of important historical events: Constance of Hauteville married here by proxy Emperor Henry VI (1185). Charles I of Anjou was crowned King of Apulia, Sicily and Jerusalem by Pope Nicholas I in 1289. Pope Gregory IX celebrated canonized St. Dominic in Rieti (1234).

Late Middle Ages and modern era[edit]

After the Papal seat had been moved to Avignon, Rieti was conquered by the King of Naples, while inner struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines broke out. In 1354 it was won back by Cardinal Albornoz, and it later became a feudal seignory of the Alfani family within the Papal States. More of the surrounding plain was drained in the following century, but this led to confrontation with the neighboring Terni.

Rieti was province capital of the Papal States from 1816 to 1860. After the unification of Italy, it was initially part of Umbria, being annexed to Lazio in 1923. It became the provincial capital on January 2, 1927.


Climate data for Rieti
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8
Average low °C (°F) 1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 111
Source: [1]

Main sights[edit]

Fontana dei delfini.
Loggia and gardens of Palazzo Vicentini.
St. Rufo church, in the square considered the centre of Italy.
St. Augustine church.
Mount Terminillo in summer.

The ancient Sabine and Roman city was crowded with buildings, including baths (thermae). Only scarce remains were found during excavations in 19th and 20th century: the foundations of a large temple, the stone floor of the main square (forum), walls from private houses, concrete vaults, statues and pottery items. The most striking remains are the stone bridge across the Velino river and the viaduct.

Piazza San Rufo is traditionally considered to be the exact centre of Italy (Latin Umbilicus Italiae).

Other sights include:

  • Rieti Cathedral: Construction started in 1109 over a pre-existing basilica, was consecrated in 1225 and almost entirely rebuilt in 1639. It has a stunning Romanesque bell tower from 1252. The entrance portico leads to a 13th-century portal. The interior, on Latin cross plan with one nave and two aisles, has mainly Baroque decorations, including a St. Barbara sculpted by Giannantonio Mari (1657), probably designed by Bernini. Antoniazzo Romano contributed a fresco. It also houses canvases from 16th and 17th centuries. The crypt corresponds to the most ancient part of the church, consecrated in 1157. The Baptistery has an elegant 15th-century baptismal font.
  • Palazzo Vescovile ("Bishops Palace" or "Papal Palace"): Construction begun in 1283. Noteworthy are the loggia and eight Renaissance-style windows from 1532. The lower floor is occupied by the so-called "Volte del Vescovado", a great portico with two naves of Gothic arcades. The Grand Hall houses the Diocese Gallery.
Vaults of Palazzo Vescovile, also known as the Papal Palace.
  • Palazzo Comunale ("Town Hall", 13th century, rebuilt in the 18th century), facing Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, a square corresponding to the ancient Roman forum. The Palace houses the Town Museum which hosts works by Antoniazzo Romano, Antonio Canova, Bertel Thorwaldsen.
Palazzo Comunale.
  • Palazzo del Governo, with a noble loggia from 1596.
  • Bishop's Arch, a bridge built by Boniface VIII.
  • San Pietro Martire - church of St. Peter Martyr (13th century), with luxurious golden Baroque decorations. It has a Presentation of Christ to the Temple by Giovanni Battista Gaulli.
  • Palazzo Vicentini, attributed to Giuliano da Sangallo the Younger.
  • Walls of Rieti; Walls date from first half of the 13th century, with characteristical rounded and square towers.
  • Sant'Agostino: 13th century Gothic-style church restored in the 18th century). The portal has a fresco of Madonna with Child and Saints Augustine and Nicholas (1354) of Sienese school.
  • Santa Maria in Vescovio, a church built in the 8th century and subsequently modified to the current 12th century Romanesque appearance. The interior has a single nave and frescoes from the late 13th-early 14th centuries, depicting the Last Judgement and scenes from the Old and New Testament.
  • San Francesco: church begun in 1245, radically restored in 1636). The interior has a single nave. The original frescoes from the 14th-15th centuries depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis and the Virgin and Child[2] are now in the Diocese Museum and in the Palazzo Vescovile.
  • Palazzo Vecchiarelli: late Renaissance palace designed by Carlo Maderno.

Also interesting are the sights in the Lake Lungo and Ripasottile Natural Preserve, and the Mount Terminillo.

Notable people[edit]

Twin cities[edit]


Rieti can be reached from the A1 (Rome-Florence) motorway from the Orte gate, and then through the SS 79. The city is also connected to Rome by the SS 4 Via Salaria.

Rieti has a station on the Terni–Sulmona railway.



  1. ^ "Climate averages: Rieti, Italy". EuroWeather. Retrieved 5 December 2008. 
  2. ^ Péter Bokody, "Secularization and Realistic Turn in Italy: Antonio Fissiraga's Funerary Monument in Lodi," IKON: Journal of Iconographic Studies 5 (2012): 351-363. https://www.academia.edu/1796258/Secularization_and_Realistic_Turn_in_Italy_Antonio_Fissiragas_Funerary_Monument_in_Lodi

External links[edit]