Rome and Surroundings: Albano Laziale and its ancient history

Among the cities are located in the surroundings of Rome and certainly among those you should include in your itinerary during a holiday in the capital, there undoubtedly is Albano Laziale, which boasts ancient origins and is capable of captivating any tourist. To understand why such a destination should arouse your interest, just think of the fact that its origins literally lie in the legend.

Albano Laziale: its connection with the ancient Albalonga

For those of you who do not know, what is now known as Albano Laziale, was mentioned by Virgil in the Aeneid, in the part in which Aeneas appears in a dream as a white colored sow, which indicates to him where he will have to lay the first stone of what will become the capital of the Latin populations. Well, in this passage of the Aeneid they speak about Albalonga, which is nothing more than the ancient name of the current territory of Albano Laziale. If you read the texts about the ancient history of this city, you will immediately discover that Rome and Albano Laziale are closely linked, and how this connection becomes even more evident by looking at the monument of the Horatii and Curiatii that is located right here and that tells the moment when Albalonga and the other cities of the Latin League had to surrender to the evidence of the superiority of the Romans.
It is now a clear and almost incontrovertible fact, thanks to numerous archaeological studies, that the name of Albano Laziale is to be connected directly to the ancient city founded by Aeneas. And this connection is made evident by the fact that the city coat of arms is a white sow under which stands a Latin writing that does not need too many translations: "Mater Urbis", which for those of you who don't know it literally means "Mother of Rome".
terme-romane-di-Cellomaio-albano

The ancient history of Albano Laziale

The area where Albalonga was built, which is where Albano Laziale is located today, boosted its rapid development: this also happened thanks to the fact that it was in a point of passage of the Via Appia. In a short time Albanum, as it was called from a certain moment on, established itself as one of the favourite residences of characters who made the history of Rome, such as Domitian and Pompey the Great, just to name a few of them. A radical change for the city of Albanum and which therefore marked the ancient history of what you know today with the name of Albano Laziale, occurred at the beginning of the third century: the emperor Septimius Severus actually decided to permanently install a camp for the Second Parthian Legion there. This meant the arrival of about 6000 legionnaires with their families: this event had as a primary consequence a profound modification of the social fabric and also of the local economy, without forgetting the creation of a robust urban aggregate. The Roman legionaries did not move until the second half of the third century and in this period the whole area had become increasingly important from a commercial point of view. This is the reason why, today in Albano Laziale, you can see a basilica, built when Constantine reigned and finished in 326 AD. Perhaps you do not know in that historical period it was customary to recognize the strategic, cultural or economic importance of an urban centre by the construction of such a place of worship. What you can still visit here and which is named after St. John the Baptist is due to the fact that Constantine considered Albanum a very important centre from an economical point of view. By the fall of the Roman Empire, the city suffered the same fate as almost all the others in the area, that is, it found itself subject to continuous looting and raids by the peoples dropped from other areas of Europe, such as the Franks, the Goths and even by the Saracens in 846 AD.

The ancient history of Albano Laziale

Scholars are used to starting the modern history of Albano Laziale in the 10th century, or when what the inhabitants had long called Albano for some time, it became a possession of the Savelli family, a noble family of that period, an ally of the Colonna family. The latter profoundly marked the fate of the city. The opposition between the Colonna and the Papacy was the main cause that led to this location being completely destroyed in 1436 by soldiers of the Papal States. The reconstruction gave it the shape that you can still admire today, following the scheme of the castrum of the Second Partial Legion.
Those which before the destruction mentioned were the city streets, were rebuilt according to new dictates at the base of which there was the idea of expanding them and making them a tangible sign of the city's rebirth, leaving behind the old dark and narrow streets . Albano Laziale lived a period of renewed well-being for 400 years, ended when, due to an economical crisis, it became part of the Papal States in a particular but at the time completely normal way, that is by an auction held in the Pontifical Chamber and which sanctioned its passage under the dominions of the Papacy. Towards the end of the 1700s Pius VI modernized that part of the Via Appia that passed and still passes through Albano Laziale: it was thanks to these works that there was a return to the role of first choice as a holiday place for the upper middle class Roman. The Risorgimento years, which ended with the unification of Italy, obviously led to the annexation by the Kingdom of Italy from 1870 and to assume 12 years after the current name of Albano Laziale, a choice that was necessary for eyes of the Italian authorities to be able to differentiate it from other neighbouring realities of the Kingdom.
Going back in time for about 75 years, another very important moment you must know about its history is that of the bombing of February 1944, by the Allies: this war act caused many deaths and is still clear in the local memory. After the end of the conflict, the city managed to rise again and over time it has carved out a first-rate role from the tourist and cultural point of view among those found in the surroundings of Rome.

23/02/2020
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