All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page added in April 2023.
All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to email@example.com.
Page added in April 2023.
Ferdinand Gregorovius, a German historian best known for his studies on medieval Rome, spent the summer of 1856 at Genazzano; from there he decided to visit the towns which are located at the foot of the Ernici Mountains: Anagni, Ferentino, Frosinone, Alatri and Veroli, to see their ancient walls and medieval monuments. Gregorovius described this journey in Aus den Bergen der Herniker, an account written for a German paper.
A view of Ceccano from the left bank of the River Sacco
Then the Ceccano pilgrims (on their way to the shrine of Madonna del Buon Consiglio at Genazzano) taking part! The women wear bodices of an amaranthine hue, matching their long aprons. Their white head-dresses have long white ends, and they wear sandals. The men have peaked hats, and jackets of amaranth colour; the sash round the waist is wound round with bright ribbons. (..) From Anagni in the distance peak after peak arises, then more towns - Ferentino behind a hill, Frosinone, whose fortress is still visible, Arnara, Pofi, Ceccano, and many other places can the eye discover. Gregorovius - transl. by Dorothea Roberts
Ceccano is located at the southern end of Ciociaria (Sandal-land), the valley of the River Sacco which is named after ciocie, a sort of sandals which were typical of the region.
(above) View northwards towards Frosinone; (below) the historical centre of Frosinone with the bell tower of S. Maria Assunta
On a beautiful April morning we reached Frosinone by rail from Rome. The country was in its freshest, brightest green. The next station, Ceccano, is at the foot of a town which is, externally, perhaps the most picturesque on the whole line.
Augustus J. C. Hare - Days near Rome - 1875
Ceccano. The village is most picturesquely situated on the hillside to the right of the line, on the right bank of the Sacco, the valley of which now contracts. (..) A road leads from Ceccano over the hills to Piperno and Terracina.
Baedeker: Italy; handbook for travellers - 1900
View towards the Ernici Mountains behind Veroli (above) and Arnara, a small town east of Ceccano (below)
The Castle of Ceccano enjoys commanding views over the surrounding countryside and some of the nearby minor fortified towns, e.g. Arnara which was most likely built in the VIIIth century by the Longobard Dukes of Benevento. The establishment of a border between Ciociaria (i.e. the Valley of the River Sacco) and the Valley of the River Liri to its south dates to that period. In the XVth century the frontier between the Papal State and the Kingdom of Naples was set at the point the Sacco joins the Liri at Ceprano. The Liri, with the name of Garigliano empties into the Tyrrhenian Sea at Minturno.
S. Maria a Fiume: Roman inscriptions: (above) celebrating the restoration of baths by Emperor Hadrian: (below-left) pedestal of a statue to Flavius Proculeianus, a magistrate of Fabrateria Vetus, with a lengthy inscription mentioning the positions he covered and the donations he made to the poor; (below-right) pedestal of a statue to C. Mollius Secundinus, another magistrate of Fabrateria Vetus who made donations to the poor
If you could tear yourself from the Games, you could buy
A most excellent place, at Sora, at Fabrateria or Frusino,
For the annual rent you pay now, for a tenement in Rome.
Juvenal - Satire III - Translation by A. S. Kline
Tuesday, November 9, 1790. After travelling three miles farther, I came to the Isoletta, situated in an angle, between the river Liris and another stream which comes from Valmontone (the Sacco). At this spot antiquaries have placed the Fabrateria of the itineraries. (..) The station on the Latin Way could not, however have been there, but more in the plain, though its exact site, I believe, has never been ascertained. It is frequently mentioned by the classic authors. (..) It was made a Roman colony under the consulate of Longinus and Sextus Calvinus, in the year 124 before Christ.
Richard Colt Hoare - A classical tour through Italy and Sicily - 1819
Ceccano. At the foot of the hill, to the left of the river, once lay the ancient Fabrateria Vetus, numerous inscriptions from which are built into the walls of the church by the bridge (S. Maria a Fiume). Baedeker
(left) S. Maria a Fiume from the castle of Ceccano; (right) fašade
The church was most likely built on the site of the baths mentioned by Hadrian's inscription or of a temple. The Roman town lay in the valley at the foot of the castle. The whole area was bombed in 1943-1944 by the allies to destroy the bridge on the river and the railway line which the Germans used to supply their troops at Cassino. The church was rebuilt "as it was" after WWII and some of the decorative elements of the fašade, e.g. parts of the portal and the rose window, are those of the old one which is dated XIIth century.
Pulpit of S. Maria a Fiume
The decoration of the pulpit (which was not damaged by bombings) shows the influence of the master sculptors who were active at Fossanova and Piperno. It had two lecterns at the sides of a central column which was used as Easter chandelier (see that at Anagni). One lectern (Cornus Epistolae) was decorated with floral motifs and it was used to read the Epistles written to the first Christians, the other one (Cornus Evangelii) was decorated with the face of a young king and it was used to preach the Gospel of the day. The richest medieval churches, e.g. S. Maria in Aracoeli, had two distinct pulpits. The image used as background for this page is based on the decoration of a small medieval holy water basin of this church.
Walls of the Castle on the edge of rocks
The name of Ceccano is recorded in medieval chronicles in association with the masters of its almost impregnable castle at the top of the hill. They are referred to as barons or counts and most likely they were of Longobard origin. Their importance is testified to by the number of cardinals who are named after Ceccano, the first one being Gregorio Gaetani di Ceccano who was appointed in 1099. Giordano di Ceccano, appointed in 1188 was Abbot of Fossanova and a patron of S. Maria a Fiume; he is clearly indicated as belonging to the family of the Counts of Ceccano. Stefano di Ceccano, appointed in 1212, was the son of Count Landolfo I di Ceccano and his wife, Egidia. He too became Abbot of Fossanova; he was a close friend of Domingo de Guzman, founder of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) and future saint. Teobaldo di Ceccano, appointed in 1275 was at the deathbed of St. Thomas Aquinas at Fossanova.
(left) A view of the remaining part of the Castle, which until 1873 housed a prison; (right) one of its entrances
On a sudden, on the 7th of September (1303), the peaceful streets of Anagni were disturbed. The Pope and the Cardinals, who were all assembled around him, were startled with the trampling of armed horse, and the terrible cry, which ran like wild-fire through the city, "Death to Pope Boniface! Long live the King of France!" Sciarra Colonna, at the head of three hundred horsemen, the Barons of Ceccano and Supino, and some others, were marching in furious haste, with the banner of the King of France displayed.
Henry H. Milman - History of Latin Christianity - 1839
The Counts of Ceccano stood by the side of the Colonna and of Philip the Fair against Pope Boniface VIII. At the time they ruled also other nearby towns, e.g. Carpineto and (in 1275) Terracina.
S. Nicola (outside the walls): (left) bell tower; (centre) portal (XIIIth century); (right) a small tabernacle at the side of the portal
In 1324 Francesco di Ceccano conquered Alatri and in 1327 the Counts of Ceccano were in a way rewarded for having supported France by Pope John XXII who resided at Avignon and had close links with the French crown. In that year Annibaldo, son of Count Berardo III, was appointed cardinal and the Pope and his successors named him their representative to deal with some challenging issues. In particular he was asked to oversee the 1350 Jubilee in Rome. You may wish to see his coat of arms at Carpineto (it is very similar to that of today's Ceccano). The XIVth century marked the apogee of the Counts of Ceccano. A Stefano di Goffredo da Ceccano is recorded in the early XVth century as Prior of the Military Order of the Hospitallers of St. John in Rome, but the male line of the Conti di Ceccano became extinct during the XVth century and Ceccano was inherited by the Caetani of Sermoneta.
Pope Alexander VI Borgia assigned Ceccano and many other nearby fiefdoms to members of his family but in 1504 after his death the town was given to the Colonna who already possessed most of Ciociaria. Deprived of its political and military role Ceccano declined. In the XVIIIth century the Popes improved the road between Rome and Naples via Terracina, thus adding to the isolation of Ceccano. In 1853 the Murray Handbook for travellers in Southern Italy alerted its readers that: There is no longer any direct communication by this road (through Ceccano and Ceprano) between Rome and Naples. This was partly due to the many peasants of Ciociaria who had resorted to brigandage.
S. Giovanni Battista: (left) fašade; (right) apse and bell tower seen from S. Maria a Fiume
S. Giovanni Battista was the main and probably the oldest church of Ceccano, but in the XVIth and XVIIth centuries it was entirely redesigned and its orientation was changed. The fašade has an XVIIIth century aspect, but it was actually built in the XIXth century.
Towards the end of XVIIIth century Carlo Giorgi, a native of Ceccano, made a fortune by acquiring the exploitation of the mines of alum at Tolfa, although he had to pass half of the profits to Luigi Onesti Braschi, the nephew of Pope Pius VI. In 1863 the opening of the railway line between Rome and Naples via Velletri and Capua dramatically improved the economy of Ceccano, especially after the end of the Papal State in 1870. Camillo Mancini, a native of Ceccano and an engineer by profession, was elected member of the Italian Parliament in 1895, 1897 and 1909. He promoted the development of Ceccano as a manufacturing centre.
Introductory page on Ferdinand Gregorovius
Other pages on this walk: Ferentino, Alatri, Frosinone, Ceprano, Fiuggi (Anticoli di Campagna) and Piglio and Acuto
The Roman Campagna: Colonna and Zagarolo, Palestrina, Cave, Genazzano, Olevano, Paliano and Anagni
The Volsci Mountains: Valmontone and Montefortino, Segni, Carpineto, Norma and Cori
On the Latin shores: Anzio and Nettuno and Torre Astura plus An Excursion to Ardea and An Excursion to Lavinium (Pratica di Mare)
Circe's Cape: Terracina and San Felice
The Orsini Castle in Bracciano
Subiaco, the oldest Benedictine monastery
Small towns near Subiaco: Cervara, Rocca Canterano, Trevi and Filettino.