The village of Settefrati is located in the beautiful Val Comino, in the enchanted nature reserve of the Lazio slopes of the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park.
Its name comes from the Seven Saints, sons of Santa Felicita, martyred with their mother during the persecution of Christians during the Roman Empire. The seven brothers are the protectors of the town which took this name in the fifth century AD.
There is not much knowledge of ancient history, but in the nearby area of the Canneto Valley there was an ancient pre-Roman temple dedicated to the goddess Mefite as reported by legends and evidence of a carved column. The column was a gift to the goddess by two Roman ‘liberti’ (liberated slaves), Satirio and Pomponio.
The village was formed in the Middle Ages when the Saracen raids pushed the population to abandon the houses in the valley and to seek refuge in castrum, fortified castles on the summit and slopes of hills.
The Settefrati Castle is reported for the first time in a 991 document in the abbey of Montecassino. The castle was among the possessions of the Abbey and followed the fortunes of neighbouring Alvito.
Among the many families that governed it over the centuries are the D’Aquino (of longobard origin), the Cantelmo and the Navarro. After 1595, it became part of the possessions of the Gallio family and therefore of the duchy of the nearby Alvito which included many towns of the Val di Comino. The image of Settefrati is found in the stuccoes of Villa Gallio that describe all the possessions of the family.
In 1807, it became part of the Bourbon Kingdom. After the unification of Italy, it experienced the phenomenon of banditry and was the refuge of the brigand Centrillo.
Historic-architectural heritage was heavily damaged by the earthquakes of 1915 and 1984 and the bombings during the Second World War. Settefrati was close to the Gustav resistance line of the Germans and after the war a lot of the population emigrated in search of a better life.
Settefrati is known for one of the largest religious festivals in central Italy that each year in August involves about 60,000 people at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Canneto. The story of this festival is lost in the mists of time but the sentiment is so strong that a group of immigrants in Canada rebuilt a copy of the sanctuary in Windsor (between Detroit and Toronto) called the ‘Ciociaro Club’.
Settefrati has given birth to Alberico a monk and a mystic who lived in the twelfth century and in 1127 he dictated his visions from childhood of hell, purgatory and paradise to be transcribed on parchment. According to some scholars, his writings provided a cue for Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.