Isola del Liri is a small town in Italy known for its beautiful natural scenery and historic landmarks.
This village develops entirely at the foot of the Cascata Grande, a waterfall which drops from 27 meters, on the top of which there is the charming Boncompagni-Viscogliosi Castle.
Isola del Liri is worth visiting by planning a day trip in the beautiful area of “Ciociaria”, a vast area between the regions of Lazio and Campania. Most interesting town to visit are: Fumone, Castro dei Volsci, Anagni.
Isola del Liri is a town located between the two ancient roman “municipium” of Arpinum (now Arpino) and Sora, inhabited in ancient times by the Volscians, an Indo-European Osco-Umbrian population. While in the middle ages fell under Byzantine rule, it became then part of the principality of Capua, ruled by the Longobards.
In the second decade of the 19th century, thanks to French industrialist Giuseppe Courrier, the industrial development of the area specialised into production and processing of paper. Within a few years, Isola del Liri transformed from a rural center into a first-rate industrial pole modifying the urban aspect of the city. Thanks to the construction of several paper mills, felt mills, woolen mills, Isola del Liri was internationally known as the Manchester of Italy and its products were exported all over the world. After the Second World War, however, the town were cut off from the main communication routes and therefore the industries of Isola del Liri began an inexorable decline.
Unlike what most of travel blogs tells about this little town, besides the beautiful grande waterfall (although ruined by an awful modern building on the right side of it), the town itself has not much to offer. After a quick walk in the old town center (which is not particularly well cared, since many buildings are in a state of abandonment), a visit to the church of San Lorenzo Martire in San Lorenzo square and a couple of other churches, you will probably check on the map looking for next destination.
If you’re lucky enough to find out a way to book online a visit to the Boncompagni – Viscogliosi castle or the Lefevre paper mill (recently reopened for private tours), you’ll be able to extend your stay.
Hidden gem: if you appreciate hiking, we suggest the nature trail that winds along the banks of the Liri river from Isola del Liri to Sora. The “Parco Fluviale” trail.
Other tourist sights:
The main attraction of Isola del Liri is without doubt the two waterfalls, both located where the Liri river forks in two branches to form an island.
The “Cascata Grande” (or Cascata Verticale) is the biggest and most renowned of the two waterfalls. It’s 27 meters high and flows into a large basin surmounted by the Naples bridge, from which you have a spectacular view. On the left side of this basin there are several restaurants where you can enjoy the local cusine.
The Valcatoio waterfall (or “Cascatelle”) is the smaller waterfall, located on the other end of the city center and can be reached from the Giustiniano Nicolucci” park.
The Boncompagni – Viscogliosi castle is a medieval fortified building located in front of the Napoli bridge, in the very center of Isola del Liri on the top of the hill.
Being the private residence of the Viscogliosi family who still still live there and takes care of its maintenance, the Boncompagni – Viscogliosi castle is unfortunately not always accessible to visitors, as we have been able to ascertain during our visit in August 2022.
The castle is now mostly used for weddings and events.
As mentioned before, there is a hidden gem in Isola del Liri, that many tourists are unaware of: the “Parco Fluviale” nature trail. The route (no more that 4 km in lenght) starts from the “Giustiniano Nicolucci” park, located on Corso Roma, the main road, right after the Roma bridge.
Going around the Modesto Galante Municipal Library (the white and mordern structure in the middle of the park), there is a hidden route that goes uphill along the side of the hill of San Sebastiano. After reaching the dam behind the ducal castle, take the right at the fork and proceed along the slope of the hill and than along the course of the Liri river. On the route, you’ll see the villa and the former Ciccodicola woolen mill and the ruins of the Marmone stone bridge.
If you want to change the road on the way back, we suggest to reach ponte Marmone street in Sora, turn right, that turn right again in Barca San Domenico street (Borgo San Domenico street after the roundabout) until you get back to Giuseppe Verdi street in Isola del Liri.
Every year on the second Sunday of July there are celebrations in honor of the SS. Crocifisso (Festa del Santissimo Crocefisso), with the solemn procession and the market fair. Concerts and shows take place from the previous Thursday to the following Monday.
Around the period of the end of June – first half of July, the Liri Blues festival is held in town. Born in 1988, it consists usually in blues concerts in the central square Piazza De’ Boncompagni and often accompained by nocturnal jam sessions and music in the streets of the old town. At this festival performed artists like Buddy Guy, Mike Stern, Roberto Ciotti and the Colosseum.
On August 10, inhabitants of Isola del Liri celebrate Saint Lorenz (saint to whom the most important church is dedicated) when a large bonfire is lit in the middle of the Liri river at the foot of the Cascata Grande.
On December 10, the Madonna of Loreto is celebrated , the patron saint of the town, who according to tradition saved Isola del Liri from the wave of plague in 1654.
Useful information for your visit to Isola del Liri.
To reach Isola del Liri from Rome: