Bola, the Via Labicana, Labicum and Labico

The fact that the whole area around Rome has been built on Roman remains is undoubted as many small villages or urban centers were formed around the post stations for stopping and changing horses along the main roads.

The problem is, if anything, to understand what the Roman remains are and to be able to locate some of the legendary satellite cities of Rome as narrated by the great authors.

One of these cities is the famous Labicum which also gave its name to a street, the Via Labicana still existing in Rome.

Now one might think that Labicum is the current Labico, and yet it is not so.

The current Labico rises in the area of ​​the remains of Bola, also called Bolae, a colony of the mythical Alba Longa which is also mentioned by Virgil in the Aeneid. It was a city born in the Bronze Age that precedes even the construction of Rome.

The Romans used to conquer these cities and destroy the cities of the Latin League that opposed their expansion. Then they divided the territory and gave it to the settlers and the veterans who also had the task of ‘romanizzarlo’ (romanising) and eliminate signs of the ancient history.

Scholars find Bola in different stories that characterize the expansion of Rome to the detriment of the neighbouring populations of the Equi and the Volsci. Bola was then finally conquered by Furio Camillo in 389 B.C. and the city then ‘disappeared’ along with its location, which however should fall near the current Labico.

Meanwhile the name Labicum refers to a more important city whose traces have been totally lost, perhaps it is located in the territory of Montecompatri. According to an ancient legend, Labicum was founded by Glaucus, the son of the king of Crete Minos, and Virgil mentions it among the peoples who opposed Aeneas.

In order to arrive in this city, the Via Labicana was followed, which practically started from Porta Maggiore and followed a route that initially followed Via Prenestina, then Via Casilina. It probably passed through the Tuscolo along the external side of the Colli Albani, then passed through Labicum and rejoined Via Latina. It can be said that it was an alternative route to that of the Via Latina which in the initial stretch passed into the mountain areas of the Alban Hills and was sometimes inaccessible in winter.

A curiosity that makes this way special: in 193 AD, Emperor Didio Giuliano was buried along the Via Labicana after being executed.

Labicum was then razed to the ground by the Romans in their expansion in 418 BC. by Quinto Severio Prisco, and re-founded not far away around a post station along the Via Labicana. But its decline was as unstoppable as that eventually of Rome and slowly it disappeared from geographical maps and memory.

Probably the name of the current village of Labico derives from a misunderstanding. In fact this village was originally called Lugnano and changed its name in 1872 after Francesco de’ Ficoroni in the eighteenth century declared that Lugnano had been built on the ancient centre of Labicum and that this should be honoured and remembered by changing the name of the village.

Such was the joy of having such heroic lineage that the change of the name of the town happened in a short time. But all this ferment is not followed by study activities and today the identity of Labico is to be found more in its hospitality and in its starred cuisine than in pre-Roman history. To Labico for taste.

Guide of Labico

Labico is perched on a tuff spur in the Valle del Sacco or Valle Latina south east of Rome along […]