Riofreddo was founded around a Roman fort on the ancient Via Tiburtina Valeria (which led from Rome to Abruzzo) and its ‘Rivus Frigidu’ name was due to the freshness of the river that runs alongside it. Its history is sunk deep in the past and in a necropolis of the Equi of 1000 BC an ancient dagger and sword of a warrior were found.
From the Roman period remains a stretch of road typically paved and a bridge attributed to Consul Cocceo Nerva.
Around a thousand, the village was formed around a castle. From the beginning of the thirteenth century it was under the control of the Colonna family and, for a time, the Orsini. During the first half of the sixteenth century, then it passed to the Del Drago family who still retain the title of Marquis of Riofreddo.
Here, at Palazzo Rocchi stayed Gaetano Donizetti, the famous opera composer, and composed Lucia di Lammermoor initially testing it with the local band.