The town of Lanuvio southeast of Rome was built on the ancient town of Lanuvium and legends tell that Lanuvium was founded by Diomedes or by a Trojan named Lanoios after the Trojan War (1180-1170 BC).
Defeated by the Romans in 338 BC, Lanuvio obtained a privileged treatment in exchange for half of the proceeds of the Juno Sospita sanctuary that was in use since the sixth century BC.
Starting from the late Republican period, it became the destination of the most prominent of the Roman political figures, living there were: M. Emilio Lepido, M. Giunio Bruto, Augusto and Marco Aurelio. It gave birth to two other emperors Antonino Pio and Commodo.
Lanuvio was the home of Publio Sulpicio Quirino, Roman governor of Siria in the period of Jesus Christ. He conducted the first population census, registering a couple who later became known as Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary.
With the edict of Theodosius in 391 AD, the arrival of Christianity as the only religion and the closing of all the pagan temples, Lanuvio began to decline. In the Middle Ages the population took refuge in the hills around a ‘castrum’, to escape the Saracen invasions, and restored the ancient Roman walls of tuff blocks.
It became an active centre again in the eleventh century thanks to the work of the Benedictine monks but for centuries it was increasingly subject to looting and sieges. In the fifteenth century came Colonna and, in 1564, it was purchased by Giuliano Sforza Cesarini, under whom it had a period of relative tranquility.
In World War II, because of the strategic importance of its location, it was bombed from the sea and subjected to air raids of the Allied armies landing at Anzio.