In the square that connects the Church of San Pio and Antonio with the port there is a special bronze statue of Pope Innocent XII who can be considered the ‘second founder’ of Anzio.
Innocent XII Pignatelli was born in Puglia in 1615 from a rich family who sent him to study in Rome with the Jesuits at the age of 14. He became a cardinal and was elected Pope in 1691.
His love for Anzio stems from a misadventure with the boat in which he was travelling, that was forced to run aground at Anzio to seek shelter. Innocent XII was helped by local fishermen and promised to build a new port if he were to be elected pope. And so he did.
Innocent XII was the pope of morality who outlawed nepotism, the practice of having cardinals among family members and enriching their relatives.
During his pontificate he worked a lot on commercial infrastructures to feed the population, arranging the ports of Anzio and Civitavecchia and connecting them with fast roads to Rome. His love for Anzio is also shown by a coin of the time that had on one side the port of the city and on the other the image of the pope.