The town of Zagarolo is located east of Rome and stretches for two kilometers on a hill of tuff, a volcanic rock that came from the ancient volcanoes of the Castelli Romani.
According to ancient tradition, there was settlement here already during the era of the Roman monarchy and refuge was found here by the mythical exiles of Gabi, the Etruscan city destroyed by Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome.
After the fall of the Empire the history of the area is confused with that of the decadence of Rome. The earliest written records date back to 970 AD when Pope John XIII gave these territories in fief to his sister Stefania of the Counsi of Tuscolani. In 1043 the Colonna family took over and loved so much these places to cede Tusculum to Pope Eugene III, in 1157, in order to keep Zagarola and Colonna.
In 1295 Boniface VIII was received with great magnificence in Zagarolo, in his first trip to Anagni, after election as Pope. But following the struggles waged between the great patrician families for the supremacy of Rome, Zagarolo was conquered by the same Bonifacio VIII who then destroyed Palestrina. When in 1435 the Colonna family was subjected to the Pope finally peace came and Zagarolo became the headquarters of Lorenzo Colonna. Zagarolo was later destroyed by Cardinal Vitelleschi, but was rebuilt by the same Colonna.
Zagarolo was recognized in 1538 as the fief of Vittoria Colonna and the ‘branch of Zagarolo Colonna’ began. In those years the municipal statute was drafted and it experienced a period of peace and prosperity. The love of the Colonna was so strong that Marzio Colonna filled the family with debt to restructure the city. His successors were forced to sell the duchy to the Ludovisi and then to the Rospigliosi who gave it a new urban plan. This was the Zagarolo Renaissance with the construction of the Borgo Nuovo (now Corso Vittorio Emanuele) and St. Peter’s Church.
In 1816 the fief of Zagarolo was abolished, while it remained under the control of the Pallavicini-Rospigliosi until 1848. On October 9, 1858, Pius IX declared Zagarolo a ‘city’.