Paliano is a little paradise in the lower hills of the Prenestini and Ernici mountains. It was born in the shade of a military fortress which for centuries guarded the valley of the Sacco river and Via Prenestina to Fiuggi, and protected the city of Rome, and is still the signature standing on the hill of Paliano.
Maybe the greatest glory of Paliano was when the Pope gave this land to Marcantonio Colonna II to thank him for the victory, as admiral of the fleet, against the Turks at Lepanto.
The territory of Paliano had been inhabited since antiquity by the Ernici and then the Romans but the first official records date back to the eighth century when there was a Massa Pulliani that belonged to the families of the popes.
The main building was transformed into a castle around the eleventh century with the name of Castellum Pallianus and was placed under the control of the Abbey of Subiaco. After the destruction in 1184 during the War of Tusculum, the fortress was rebuilt thanks to the direct intervention of Pope Honorius III and Gregory IX to control southern Lazio.
The walls surrounding the city date back to 1232 and after many additions and renovations, are 2.5 km long and enclose the entire historical centre.
The Colonna family was associated with the territory from the thirteenth century and in 1425 the Colonna become the vassals of Paliano thanks to Pope Martin V Colonna. The domain of the Colonna had some periods of decline such as between 1501 and 1528, when the castle was occupied by Alexander VI Borgia, and between 1541 and 1562.
Thanks to the victory over the Turkish fleet at Lepanto, Marcantonio Colonna played a prominent role in public life and in 1596 the Colonna were elected to be Princes of Paliano by Pope Pius V. The victory over the Turkish fleet is still celebrated every year during the Palio of the Assumption at ferragosto with a historical parade.
The Colonna built their palace adjacent to the Church of St Andrew in 1620 and this has been the ‘country’ family seat of the main branch since. Visits can be arranged for small groups, and the palace is also site of musical and theatrical performances.
The eighteenth century was a century of peace and prosperity during which Paliano become the country and hunting residence of the princes until 1799 when Napoleon’s troops stormed and plundered the area, taking all of value including the door handles. After the French, the city became the capital of the Delegation of Frosinone and in the nineteenth century entered the Kingdom of Italy.
As with nearly all towns of the province, Paliano suffered from massive allied bombing during the Second World War and much of today’s architecture is result of rebuilding in the 50 years thereafter. Yet the old town had survived and a stroll through streets and piazzas yields some wonderful views of the mountains and valleys of Ciociaria.
Today Paliano is also known for the architecture of Fuksas (gymnasium with its falling facade), for the nature park La Selva created by Prince Ruffo di Calabria to enhance the birdlife and provide woods, lakes and parklands for relaxation, and for numerous crops of top quality organic farming including Cesanese vineyards and the Cesanese Wine Route winding through the hills and valleys.