Rocca di Papa, ‘Fortress’, climbs the outer slopes of the crater of Albano. The area was inhabited as early as the first millennium BC and Monte Cavo was the old Mount Albanus, sacred to the Latins, on whose summit stood the temple of the Lazio Jupiter. This was the confederal sanctuary of the Latin League in Roman times, and the ‘ovationes’ were held here i.e. the smaller versions of the triumphal marches that wound along the Via Sacra.
According to some scholars, the Alba Longa, the legendary Latin capital founded by the son of Aeneas, would be precisely in Rocca di Papa area, at the foot of Monte Cavo.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, this area probably became a property of the Catholic Church and between the eighth and ninth centuries was organized in ‘patrimonia’ and ‘Massai’.
But the current town was formed in the medieval period and in the tenth century Rocca di Papa was assigned to the Counts of Tusculum, then progressively to the Annibaldi, the Orsini and finally to the Colonna. In 1855 the citizens rebelled against the Colonna, the precarious living conditions that were linked to the exploitation of the forests that still surround the village, and proclaimed the ephemeral Republic of Rocca di Papa.
Its name comes from the fact that prior to Castel Gandolfo, Pope Eugenius III stayed there giving it its current name.