Valmontone has been one of the strategic transition sites since pre-Roman times. It is in the valley that leads from Rome to Frosinone and finally to Naples, connecting the north and the south.
The name of Valmontone is probably derived from the topography of the “valley overlooked by a mountain”, on which the town was located within the Latina Valley. According to a legend its origins are related to Glauco, the son of Minosse and Valmontone was the ancient Tolerium city of the Volsci. In Roman times there were several villas in the lower area where the ancient Via Labicana and Via Latina crossed Rome with Naples.
In the Middle Ages, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the a commune was formed around the Benedictine monks who founded the monastery of San Zosio. The first official document dates back to 1052 where there is news of a castrum or fortified castle where the people took refuge to escape the attacks of Barbarians.
Since 1200, thanks to Pope Innocent III, Valmontone has seen passage and support for emperors and popes, such as Charles VIII and Urban VI, and then had a period of decline. Valmontone has been destroyed several times: in 1528, because of wrong alliances, it was plundered by the armies of Pope Paul IV and the troops of Marcantonio Colonna and salt was scattered on its ruins.
In 1632 Valmontone was bought by the powerful Barberini family who began by destroying the fort to turn it into a palace. We are in the Baroque period and many fortresses in Lazio are being transformed into lavish palaces. But Valmontone’s transformation was due to Prince Camillo Pamphilj, nephew of then Pontiff Innocent X, who bought it for 687,298 scudi in 1651. Through him, Valmontone knew its greatest artistic and monumental splendour.
His concept was to build an ideal city, Pamfilia, and to make Valmontone an important centre and a bishopric. Camillo had been named ‘nephew cardinal’ by the newly elected pope, but his vocation was not religious. When Olimpia Aldobrandini became a widow, Camillo relinquished the role of cardinal and married her immediately, without even waiting the usual year of mourning.
Camillo loved art more than power and the beauty of his palaces was the true symbol of power. His marriage to Olimpia and the union of two so important families in that historical period pushed him even more to surround himself with great architects and artists for his palaces in Via del Corso and Valmontone.
His children would continue his ambitions by entrusting the creation of the splendid Church of the Assumption Collegiate, right next to the palace on top of the hill, to a pupil of Bernini. A particular elliptical plan church, it is a baroque masterpiece.
The dream of making Valmontone famous came true in 1843 when Pope Gregory XVI released the bull with which he raised it to the rank of “City”.
The Second World War bombings destroyed the town center up to 85% and nowadays there are few of the ancient buildings lft to surround the majestic Doria Pamphilj Palace and its beautiful adjoining church. Valmontone has once again paid the price of being crossed by important communication lines, such as Via Casilina and the railway.
During the war the whole population took refuge in the palace where they lived for many months and in the palace were born 135 children.
But like an arabian phoenix, Valmontone was reborn in its valley with a large Valmontone Outlet and the Magicland Playground that attract visitors from all over Italy. Maybe Camillio would be happy.