Today there is little left of Monterano, once a bustling town built on tufa rock in rolling wooded Etruscan countryside about 50 km northwest of Rome. It used to be the feudal seat of the Orsini and Altieri families but in 1799, when the population had already been hard hit by malaria, there was a dispute with the nearby city of Tolfa over grain and as a consequence mercenary French troops in the service of the Roman Republic razed the town to the ground, killing and plundering. What was left of the population moved to nearby Canale Monterano and Monterano was never inhabited again. Roofs fell in, walls crumbled and its three churches became shells. Vigorous ivy and blackberries now hide much of what is left.

A huge fig tree sprang up right in the middle of the church of S. Bonaventura, towering over its fa