Albano Laziale is an important centre near Rome along the Via Appia and owes its name to the famous city of Albalonga, the mythical sacred city of Alba, mother of Rome, which was flourishing as early as 1000 B.C.
Albano Laziale is immersed in the Castelli Romani Park and gives its name to the great volcanic lake also famous for the residence of the Popes in Castelgandolfo. In its area is the large agricultural farm that supplies food for the Vatican and the Pope.
Its history began in the Bronze Age and there are remains of a village on stilts along the shores of the lake, but the first recorded history concerns the mythical city of Alba Longa which had been the head of the Latin League. To commemorate its history, in its coat of arms there is a white sow (Alba) suckling thirty little pigs (the thirty cities of the Latin League) under an ancient oak tree at the edge of the lake and of Mount Albano, where Giove Laziale had its seat and its main temple. This story is also told in Virgil’s Aeneid.
From the 5th century B.C., with the growth of Rome, the area became enriched with temples and shrines especially in the Lucus Ferentinum, the sacred place where the federation of the Latin League once met.
In 312 the Via Appia arrived and, due to its natural and logistic advantages, Albano was chosen by many illustrious men of Rome for their villas, such as Pompeo Magno, in Republican Rome, and the emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Domitian, Septimius Severus, etc.
The topographical layout of Albano comes from the encampment of the Second Partic Legion, 6,000 soldiers with family and service personnel, commissioned by Emperor Septimius Severus in the 2nd century A.D. This is the only example of a Roman legion that had its headquarters in Italy as its role was to protect the emperor directly.
Thanks to this settlement the city is endowed with a thermal bath, an amphitheatre, an articulated system of collection and distribution of water and temples all of which is still partly visible.
With Christianity, Albano became a bishopric and the city began a new urban life with the construction of numerous churches, convents, monasteries and rural and Christian communities. Many pilgrims from all over Europe came here to venerate the relics of saints and martyrs.
In the Middle Ages, to protect itself from the barbarian invasions, the city gathered in a fortified place, under the rule of the Savelli family who built a castle, a baronial palace, defensive walls and towers. The Savelli family was always in dispute with the papacy and was allied with the Colonna family and gave Albano the title of “principality”.
The city was repeatedly attacked and plundered: sacked by the Saracens in the IX century it was razed to the ground twice: in 1168 and in 1436 by Cardinal Vitelleschi.
Albano was one of the first municipalities in Lazio to enjoy some municipal freedom. In 1697 the territory was put up for auction due to the economic problems of the Savellis and came under the control of the Apostolic Chamber and the city had a new renaissance with the reopening of the Via Appia Nuova linking with Naples to replace the ancient one that had become unusable. Albano becomes a post station and in this period new squares, streets and numerous palaces of the new Roman patricians were built.
The situation changed with the arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte who blackmailed the Papal State and the Pope prepared the Albano fiefdom for auction but at the last moment he decided to ask for a loan and kept it. When the Roman Republic was declared in 1798, Albano, Frascati, Velletri and Marino declared themselves “sisters” of the republic.
In 1816 it re-entered among the possessions of the Apostolic Chamber until the independence of Italy and for this period it was the seat of government of the province of Comarca of Rome which included 18 municipalities. In the nineteenth century, Albano was a holiday resort and was the destination of famous tourists such as Goethe, Stendhal, Gogol, D’Annunzio.
During the Second World War it was heavily bombed twice after the allies landed in nearby Anzio.
Today it is one of the most lively centres of the Castelli Romani with an intense cultural life while its hamlets of Pavona and Cecchina are centres where craft and service-related businesses flourish.