Latina is located in the centre of the Pontine Plain and its territory reaches the sea with the beaches of
Capoportiere, Foce Verde and Rio Martino. A part of the territory falls within the Circeo National Park with
its lake of Fogliano.
It is a foundation city as it belongs to that small group of cities founded in the fascist period after the reclamation of the Pontine plain. This means that it was based on an urban design and with a precise architectural style that still characterizes it today.
Before then, the territory had always been characterized by marshes and swamps and was inhabited by
the Latins who, at the edges of the swamps, created the cities of Satricum (today Nettuno).
The Romans with their hydraulic engineering capabilities partially reclaimed the swamp and made the important Via
Appia that connected Rome with Brindisi.
The Romans built post stations and villages such as Tres Tabernae (today Cisterna), Tripontium (Tor Tre Ponti) and Forum Appii (Borgo Faiti) which is also mentioned in the acts of the apostles.
With the fall of the Roman empire the maintenance works of the reclamation ended and the marsh was reformed, submerging part of the Appian Way. The road network moved along the foothills and so began a
period of abandonment of the plain.
The territory was part of the Papal state and several times the popes tried to reclaim the area by creating channels whose names recall those of the popes, such as Canale Sisto or Rio Martino.
The real drainage, however, took place only in the 1930s with the rise of fascism that created an incredible hydraulic system still working today. During the works, the designers realized they had to build a large city and chose the area of Latina called "Gate of the Square (Cancello del Quadrato) where there were small settlements.
The governor of the reclamation project, Valentino Orsolini Cencelli, entrusted the project to the architect Oriolo Frezzotti and the foundation stone was laid in 1932. The project was approved by the great architect Marcello Piacentini who had foreseen an octagonal shaped city that started from a central nucleus represented by a square surrounded by all the public government buildings. The plan recalled that of the historic center of Forlì, the city of the Duce.
The project initially did not receive the approval of Mussolini who did not give much prominence to the news in the Italian press while all the foreign magazines spoke enthusiastically about the birth of the area to be known as Littoria.
Littoria was the original name of Latina, which became the provincial capital as early as 1934 and was populated by Venetian, Friulian, Emilian and Romagnolo settlers who were assigned farms by the Opera Nazionale Combattenti.
A curiosity: from the name Littoria derives the name littorina given to a particular type of railcar locomotive, used for many years by the Ferrovie dello Stato, because it was used by Mussolini for the inauguration of the city.
The name was changed to Latina after the Second World War and today the city is the one with the most populated in Lazio after Rome while the territory has a tourist, agricultural and industrial economy.