Ardea rises on a tufa rock between the Alban Hills and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the south west of Rome. This area was thriving before the birth of Rome as a commercial center between the Greek and the Latin populations. Local populations were defeated by Trojan of Enea that is then linked to the birth of Rome.
Ovid traces the name Ardea to a grey heron (Ardea cinerea), who had risen in flight after the destruction of the city by Enea.
The relationship with Rome was not simple and Ardea helped Rome against the Gauls in 348 BC but then it was one of the twelve colonies to reject aid during the Second Punic War. This brought her to a decline already during the third century BC and it was then abandoned during the imperial age when it was a place of barley production as well as deportation and exile of political prisoners.
In the ninth century Ardea was the birthplace of Pope Leo V, who was elected in 903 but was deposed by a conspiracy after 30 days. In 1130 the antipope Anacleto I confirmed the area to be under the control of the Benedictine monks of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
After several feudal periods, Pope Martin V gave control of the territory of Ardea to the Colonna family.
In 1600, after the plague, the area was swamped by the sea and made unhealthy. It was expected that Mussolini’s 1932 remediation of the Pontine would see this area flourish with new crops and industries.