Anzio stretches on the coast south of Rome where the cliffs begin making it suitable for building ports such that the urban center is now ideally combined with that of Neptune.
Its history is very ancient and a legend tells that Anzio was founded by the son of Ulysses and Sorceress Circe, while another says it was founded by the son of Aeneas. In any case, ships from the port of Anzio regularly traded with Greece and its foundation took place long before the foundation of Rome and when it was a Volsca city opposed to the rise of Rome.
Perhaps its name derives from the volsco commander Azio Tullio, much feared by the Romans.
Anzio is also linked to the figure of the famous Roman general Coriolano and his exile in this city where he became leader of the Volsco army against Rome. Some say that his figure was created to fuel the myth that ‘only a Roman general could have defeated the army of Rome’.
In 338 Antium Anzio was defeated by the Romans in a battle on the river Astura and became a colony of Rome. Important patricians such as Cicerone, Mecenate and Cesare Augusto chose it to build their summer residences. And they determined its success. In Anzio the emperors Caligula and Nerone were born and the latter had the port built plus his magnificent villa. Anzio has all the Roman city infrastructures: thermal baths, theatre and numerous temples.
With the fall of the Roman Empire a period of decline began and the coastal cities become one of the weak points taken by assault by the Saracens. All the inhabitants took refuge in the nearby Nettuno which had a fort to protect itself.
We must wait for Pope Innocent XIII for the rebirth of the city and the pope reconstructed the port while some cardinals established their summer residences in beautiful villas.
Cardinal Pignatelli had found refuge from a storm, in the caves near the Villa di Nerone, on his trip to Rome where he would be elected as Pope Innocent XII. To thank fate, the pope bought the area from the Pamphili family and built the port, the church of Sant’Antonio and donated the land to build the first urban centre.
At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Anzio was an elegant seaside resort of some well-known families of the Roman aristocracy and the bourgeoisie.
Anzio is internationally known for being the site of the Allied landing during the Second World War. This is why it was practically razed to the ground by the Anglo-American bombing.
After the war, Anzio returned to being a holiday resort for the Romans and once again life began around the port.