Frascati is located on the slopes of Monte Tuscolo, and is one of the fourteen municipalities of the “Castelli Romani”, the fortified medieval centres of the noble Roman families.
The historic centre of the city was created on the ruins of the Roman villa of Caius Passieno Crispus, the second husband of Agrippina who was the mother of Nero. In Roman times already this territory was inhabited and you can find remains of many Roman villas with rural houses of the servants.
With the fall of Roman Empire the villas were looted by Barbarians and were abandoned by the nobles and used by settlers as shelter. When the number of refugees began to rise it led to the first town.
The first document that mentions Frascati dates back to 847 and refers to the legacies of Pope Leo IV of the three churches of San Sebastian, Santa Maria and San Vincenzo. So at the time the urban core must already have been well developed.
In the Middle Ages, the story of Frascati followed the fortunes of the family of the Counts of Tusculum. In 1191 the Tusculum fortress was destroyed by the troops of the pope and in 1200 Pope Innocent III gave the castle of Frascati to the Basilica of St. John Lateran, as a feudal right. As such Frascati entered into the possessions of the Church and the Frascati castle with its high and mighty walls was a safe haven for the papal troops. In the middle of 1400s Pius II consolidated the walls to bar entrance of the enemy from the south.
In 1478, Cardinal William d’Estouteville became lord of Frascati, having provided loan of 20,000 gold crowns to the exhausted papal coffers. Estouteville arranged the road structure, rebuilt the fortress and built an aqueduct to the town. In 1511 Julius II gave Frascati to Marcantonio Colonna as a dowry for his marriage to the niece of Julius, Lucrezia della Rovere
In 1515 the Municipal Statute was approved with 113 articles which included before the first habitation law and the rules of conduct for the inhabitants of Frascati.
In 1538 Pope Paul III elevated the castle of Frascati to the rank of City by the name of New Tusculum “Tusculum Novum” bringing it under the control of the Apostolic Camera.
These were the years of the Renaissance and when great architects built the magnificent villas that still characterize all the Castelli Romani.
They are wonderful buildings rich in works of art immersed in a natural haven of beauty where popes, cardinals and the Roman nobility decided to spend their lives. The first, in Frascati is Rufina villa built by Pope Paul III. When Urban VIII chose the family’s summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Frascati lost its political role. It was Pope Innocent X who then enlarged the walls and gave a new town plan.
Since 1700 Frascati became famous for British, French and Germans who consider it a key destination in their journeys to Rome. Frascati is mentioned in the travel journals of Montesqieu, Stendhal and Goethe.
In Frascati lived Letizia, Napoleon’s mother, Pauline, her sister, and Luciano, the brother who bought the villa Rufinella that he made the basis for his senseless excavations at Tusculum.
Because of its importance, in 1856 it became the first destination of the recently inaugurated Pontifical State Railroad that connected it with Rome.
Frascati was heavily bombed by the Allies during the Second World War, because it was the basis of the German general command of Field Marshal Kesselring, the bombing destroying almost 90% of the homes.