Cerreto is a community on a hill in the Giovenziale valley and is surrounded by woods. Its name, in fact, comes from ‘cerro’ (turkey oak), similar to the common oak tree and its coat of arms shows a turkey oak on three mountains.
Its origins are ancient and it was the land inhabited by the people of the Equi. This is evidenced by the ruins of polygonal walls, while the testimony of the Roman period is given by the remains of Roman granaries.
With the arrival of the Barbarians the population sought refuge on a hill and the village that was formed was called ‘Massa Giovenzana’ and was under the control of the Monastery of St. Scholastica.
The name Cerreto appeared for the first time in a document of 1005 of Pope John XVIII and in one of Pope Benedict VIII in 1015 when Cerreto was placed under the control of the Monastery of St. Scholastica that had to build the castle.
The town has always been under the control of the church which has intervened in different ways. In 1456, it was taken over by the “Abbot Comandatario”, which was often a member of a noble Roman family, and the first Comandatario was Rodrigo Borgia who later became pope under the name of Alexander VI.
From 1753, it was controlled by the Congregation of Good Government, an operational organization of the Papal States.
The quadrangular fortress dates from the fourteenth century, of which today only the tower remains. It has undergone many attacks such as that still celebrated one in 1592, with the Festa della Gatta. In that year, Naples and Venice were at war with each other and a group of soldiers from the Bourbon army abandoned under the command of Marco Sciarra.
This group began to threaten the various castles taking hostages and demanding ransoms. But the situation changed in Cerreto and the inhabitants took refuge in the castle. To get rid of the Marco Sciarra band, the citizens took a cat, tied to its tail a stream of inflamed rags and launched it on the army of the criminals. Their bedding and barns caught fire and the Cerretani beat the band. This was on April 25 and the event is still remembered each year in a competition that takes place between the districts of the town.