Veroli is located on a hill of the Ernici mountains and the Rocca di San Leucio, its highest point, is at an altitude of 670 meters above sea level. From its position it dominates a wide landscape made up of small and interesting hills where the Sacco valley, the Cosa valley and the Sora basin meet.
Its foundation began on a plateau about a thousand years before Christ, when the Ernici built their city with an acropolis surrounded by polygonal walls. The walls are therefore composed of large boulders of irregular shape that fit perfectly together without the need for mortar.
With Anagni, Ferentino and Alatri it was part of the Ernica League that opposed the advance of Rome. After the conquest by Rome, it has always been an ally of Rome which gave it the title of ‘municipium’.
In the civil war between Mario and Silla, Veroli supported the defeated Mario who was native of this area and for a time was a military colony for Roman veterans from Germany.
After the fall of the empire, Veroli became deeply religious, and according to tradition was converted to Christianity by Santa Salome, mother of the apostles James the Greater and John the Evangelist, whose relics are found in the church dedicated to her.
In the Middle Ages San Benedetto passed through Veroli in 529 AD and in the 8th century it was already a bishopric and “Patrimonium Sancti Petri” even if, in the competition between state and empire, for a period it was also one of the cornerstones of the Roman Duchy. The Duchy of Rome was what remained of the Byzantine Empire after the arrival of the Lombards in Italy and then the Papal State took shape from this Duchy of Rome. John XIII was imprisoned in 965 AD in the fortress of San Leucio.
In 1035 the Abbey of Casamari was founded where, around the middle of the twelfth century, the Cistercian Order was introduced, it becoming one of the most important in Europe.
In Veroli the establishment of the municipalities was initiated, as disclosed in a document of 1134 that collects the first testimony of the consuls in southern Lazio. The centre was so important that Pope Alexander III (1159-1181) lived in Veroli in the fortress of San Leucio for three years. In the late Middle Ages this area was one of the most important in Europe and while in the nearby Anagni 4 popes were born,
Veroli was one of the strongest centres of power to be a link between the growing Papal States and the Southern Kingdom. The bishop of Veroli managed the properties as a small feudal lord.
Veroli became famous also for its craft activities such as the processing of copper, iron, ceramics and production of fabrics.
The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were characterized by a strong earthquake in 1350 and the defeat of Veroli by the king of Naples Ladislao of Durazzo. This is why the Pontifical State was increasingly committed to protecting the city. During this period, Pope Innocent VIII and Charles VIII of France arrived to conquer the Kingdom of Naples. Finally, in the sixteenth century the Spaniards arrived with the Colonna ‘clan’, but they did not loot the city thanks to a Spanish priest.
Then a period of peace began. The centre of the world moved with the discovery of America and the new commercial routes. In 1538 the first public school of letters and rhetoric was founded here, in Veroli, by the Franchi brothers. In 1600 the construction of the Seminary began and in 1773 the Giovardiana Library was founded, one of the oldest public libraries in Italy.
In these centuries Veroli assumed the character of a town with the construction of houses and buildings and an increase in population. A middle class arose and there was well-being among the people until the French Revolution and the birth of the Republic of Rome.
The population divided into two factions with the pro-republic bourgeoisie and the pro-papal commoners. It was during this period that the first episodes of banditry begin that would then culminate with the unification of Italy when the brigands assumed a political connotation of the opposition to the troops of the north. Veroli was one of the main refuges of the brigand Luigi Alonzi called Chiavone.
During the Second World War it was the decision-making centre for the German army in the rear of the Cassino front, but the bombings it suffered only affected some houses and did not compromise the architectural and artistic heritage of the town and area.
There are many theories about the name of ‘Veroli’ which according to some descends from ‘Verolo’, a Roman owner, while a legend says that it comes from Vir-ulis, or ‘spring of Ulysses’ or ‘people of Ulysses’. But perhaps the most common theory says that it comes from the Greek ‘erumai’ which means ‘defend’ or ‘protect’ and denoted suitable places to watch and defend.
The territory of Veroli is very large and includes 10 hamlets each with its own interesting history.