The Abbey of Valvisciolo
Up in the mountains near Norma in Southern Lazio is the Abbey of Valvisciolo. The abbey of Fossanova is more well known and worth a look as well, but this abbey is more remote and really lovely. It was built in the 8th century by Greek monks and then reconstructed in the 13th century by the Knights Templar. There is also a beautiful cloister which is also well worth a visit.
The church within is dedicated to St Peter and Paul. In the old dispensarium, there is an art gallery 'Galleria Stanislao White' named after an old abbot. There are works by Durer, Rembrandt, and Goya amongst others.
The medieval town of Bassiano
I found this old town last summer in 2012 after travelling around the area for nearly 30 years! It's amazing how there is always something new to discover, no matter how well you think you know an area. It was an easy drive from nearby Sermoneta and through the valleys, not too high up in the mountains. The town is very well preserved with a nearly intact castle wall with turrets all the way around the town. Park your car outside the walls and then wander around the town's narrow windy streets at your leisure.
We found a little alimentari (small supermarket) where the owners prepared us a lovely lunch, sampling local cheeses and prosciutto, which is a speciality. Simple, cheap and yummy!
I returned here about a year later on my yearly visit to the area and found a wonderful restaurant hidden away outside the walls of the medieval town. I just have to share it with you! It is called il Belvedere in Piazza Matteotti owned and run by Vittorio and his family. The pasta was delicious but the star was his ice cream! Vittorio is a master ice cream maker and makes his own on the premises. You can stay and have a meal or have an ice cream in a cone to eat as you are wandering around the town. Highly recommended!