The most considerable testimony of our past is represented by the ruins that the inhabitants call ‘Shattered Grotti’.

Unfortunately, Grotti’s exact origins are unknown and until present, there are no documents to indicate precisely when it was settled. The only information available was taken from books about the Cicolano area. There are traces pointing to a fortress in existence since the 14th XIV° century. Before this period, however, we only have a quotation from the ‘Compendio storico del Marchesi’ (Historical compendium of the Marchesi) indicating that Grotti was one of the villages christened by the bishop of Amiterno St. Vittorino, who probably lived during the kingdom of the Dominion of the Vespasiani family of Rieti (about 96 B.C.) and sacrificed near Cotilia, a very important Roman city.

The next trace from Grotti dates back to the 14th century when its fortress was sacked during the invasion of Ludwig de Bavarian in 1338, according to the book ‘Compendio storico del marchesi’ (Historical compendium of the Marchesi). Years later, when Louis of Hungary invaded the Kingdom of Naples, Grotti was noted as being involved in a dispute with neighbouring villages. Grotti then reappears when Carlo VIII invaded Italy with his French troops. Marchesi recounts that two hundred French soldiers stood at the Abbey of St. Salvatore attempting to destroy Grotti’s fortress, but they were stopped by Grotti’s inhabitants. Some soldiers died falling from the high cliffs and many others drowned in the river.

Grotti’s old fortress is located above a recess in the rocks - stretching from the east to the west with only one pathway connecting it. The “Spinster’s Cave” is found in the central part of the settlement. It is a hollow space inside of the rock wall, located approximately five meters above the houses. The name “Spinster’s Cave” indicates the habit of locking up the young women to preserve their chastity. One could access via ladders fixed to the cliff. Due to the cave’s inaccessibility it must not have been difficult to defend and in fact neatly arranged piles of stones were most likely set aside in case of an attack. The eastern part of the settlement was easily defended because the niche between the two towers was difficult to reach. The upper tower, called the prison, is square shaped and is located on the higher point of the cliff. The lower tower is circular in shape and connects the eastern town walls with the western one, protecting the only path.
Most of the ruins were homes located on both sides of the pathway, constructed on the steep slope, taking advantage of protection from the caves that acted as a wall and also roof. The largest house is underneath the Spinster’s Cave. The ancient church of St. Victoria is found outside of the city walls, below the settlement. It is a rather large building, with a main square space upon entry and a smaller room in the back reminding one of an apse. One knows that the church and the remains of the houses on the path heading east to the well, called “source erutti”, were built after the settlement. Up to the beginning of the 1900s, the church was the destination for burials.
The high plains of Ponzano were used as fields to provide the village with grains. It is still possible to see the ruins of St. Angelo’s church, the only proof of the ancient settlement. A mysterious place in Ponzano is the “caves of Constantine”, considered to be a Roman aqueduct in the tourist guide “La Sabina nel tempo”, such a hypothesis is based on the identification by the Emperor Constantine who lived in the 4th century. The specialty of these caves is the fact they are not completely accessible. For many years the inhabitants of Grotti were dedicated to the search of a hypothetical treasure sought by means of spiritual séance. During one séance, the leader did not wake immediately causing panic amongst the other participants. The search for the treasure remains.....
Around the 18th century three villages grew from the settlement: Grotti at the foot of the settlement, Casette approximately four kilometers in the direction of Rieti and Ville Grotti approximately one kilometer back towards the river Salto. Probably the two newer villages allowed peasants to stay closer to their land that was located too far from the old Grotti. Looking at the map of Grotti, one can see that the Cittaducale district, called “Gabelletta” or “Doganella” was located on the other side of the river Salto near the bridge. It is believed that this position gave Grotti a strategic importance during the reign of Naples, being located on the border of the Papal State and fortified by a practical road that connected Rieti to the mountains of Cicolano. Elm trees, hemp and vines were cultivated, with vines yielding abundant grapes; but they were of rather poor quality, when compared with those located further uphill near the old settlement, where the soil was more rocky. They are still the products of the earth today, but the general situation has completely changed. In fact, thanks to the construction of the dam on the Salto River during the 1930s, the fog, which used to pose a problem, no longer invades the plains and the swamps have been replaced with spacious fertile fields.

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