With its bleak terrain and deeply-rutted one-lane access track, hauntingly austere Monte Labbro does not figure on most people’s itineraries. It offers neither bar nor gelateria; it does, however, proffer the intrigue of a historically colourful character, the enigmatic Davide Lazzaretti, who lived through the turbulence of Italy’s unification.
Lazzaretti was a local lad, born to a poor family in 1834. As a young man he claimed to have visions, which took his life on a distinctly religious path, though his unwavering insistence on a “Christ of the poor” pitted him against land-owners and the Establishment. He spent stints in prison on charges of apostasy.
Davide Lazzaretti and his followers, mostly local peasants, built a dry-stone circular structure, the Torre Giurisdavidica, on the craggy, severe summit of Monte Labbro, as their spiritual center. The ruins of the complex are open for anyone to contemplate and, on a clear day, Rome can be glimpsed from the top of the tower.