In a strategic position between Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany, between Mount Amiata and Lake Bolsena is Santa Cristina castle, near the town of Grotte di Castro.
Nestled in the woods of the estate, situated on a hill of volcanic rock, stands the castle of the eighteenth century, owned by the noble Caterini family.
just below the castle we have the old "borgo", now restored to accommodate guests in comfortable apartments of the old farmhouses still well preserved.
Until 150 years ago these area was the old border between two different countries :the Vatican state ruled by the Pope and the Dukedom of Tuscany satellite of the austrian empire.
Santa Cristina castle hosted in the past illustrious prelates members of the family, such as Cardinal Prospero Caterini, senior advisor of Pope Pius IX and eminent figure during the" Risorgimento", the making of the Italian united kingdom in the transition from the ex Vatican state.
Particularly during 1848 as a result of the expulsion of the pope from Rome by the patriots who wanted Rome as part of a united Italy, pope Pius IX fled and took refuge in Gaeta fortress under the protection of the King of Naples.
In that meanwhile Cardinal Prospero Caterini was commissioned by the pope himself to save the treasure of San Pietro with important documents and precious things.
Then Cardinal Caterini with a caravan of wagons accomplished the transportation of values to his family estate of Santa Cristina castle, and then with an adventurous voyage by sea via Corsica finally reached the Pope in Gaeta
After 1848 the Cardinal returned often to spend his holidays in the estate managed by his brother Maffeo, and already quiet summer residence and hunting lodge of the family Caterini.
It was there that he met the family Pacelli who later trusted upon him a promising young seminarian whose name was Eugenio Pacelli to be tutored.
Years later he became pope as Pope Pius XII. For centuries the family history of the Caterinis often intertwined with that of the Pacelli family.
The clean air of the estate even then was recommended for frail people. and so it was that Eugenio Pacelli, during his summer holidays as a young seminarian, often came to spend his free time in the company of his relatives Pacelli and Caterini.
Pic nic with the Pope....
In the photos we see the slender figure of the future Pope Pius XII at S.Cristina Castle, taken during some relaxing outings in the countryside in happy company of the Caterini relatives.
A long tradition is renewed :
In the photo shown here on the right we can see how the equestrian tradition of the Caterini family runs back in time when it was at the service of the Pope. We see Count Pietro Caterini leading the escort of noble papal guards with the carriage of Leone XIII in the Vatican gardens in Rome, in year 1880.
In the other photo on the left Count Prospero Caterini son of Count Pietro portraied as a young rider on his maremmano horse during a hunt around Santa Cristina castle. Photos from the beginning of 1900.
SANTA CRISTINA CASTLE
Grotte di Castro 01025 (VT) - ITALY
loc. Santa Cristina snc.
P.IVA IT 07075731005
Tel. & Fax: (+39) 0763 780 11
Cell.: (+39) 339 860 5166
areas in front of the tavern
inside the tavern: internet cafe