Arce is located at the foot of Mount Arcano along the valley of the Liri river, and its history begins many centuries ago with the city of Fregellae, in the valley below the hill, where Cicero’s brother had a villa.
Fregellae was founded by the Romans in 328 BC. And then destroyed in 125 BC for which it has preserved many structures belonging to an era so little known.
The main nucleus of the ancient city have been identified: the Forum, a district of aristocratic houses, the Baths and sanctuaries of Aesculapius and a female divinity.
The current Arce was formed after the fall of the Roman empire when the population took refuge on fortresses on the hills to escape the fury of the barbarians. The name of Arce derives from arx, or fortress, or from Arcanum, the mountain on which the town is located.
Arce appears for the first time in a document of 600 and around 1000 it passed under the dominion of the Abbey of Montecassino and then from 1266 under the Angevin domination of the Kingdom of Naples.
Over the centuries it has been a fiefdom of many families such as the D’Avalos, the Della Rovere and the Boncompagni, and has been characterized by being a border town with the Papal States. They were separated by 14 Cippi Confinari and by the medieval Toll Tower along the Liri River, a military garrison that was supposed to control traffic on the Liri River crossed by a bridge that connected the Kingdom of Naples and the Papal States. The bridge and a hostaria were also part of the complex.
As soon as you arrive in Arce you are immediately struck by the majestic eighteenth-century church dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul with a large octagonal dome 24 meters high. Inside there are the relics of Saint Eleuterio, which protects from the bite of rabid dogs and snakes, in an urn under the altar.
Arce has two very interesting museums: the Anthropological museum dedicated to the natives of Lower Lazio and the Railway museum dedicated to the line that connected Lazio and Abruzzo along the Liri valley. The museum organizes trips by vintage trains and other events that promote the area.
For nature lovers, the ‘Ancient City of Fregellae and Fabrateria Nova and Lake San Giovanni Incarico’ nature reserve is located in Arce, covering an area of 715 hectares. The lake was born from the barrier of the Liri river in the section where it meets the waters of the Sacco river.
Do not miss the Festa della Ballarella in May dedicated to popular music and traditional Ciociaria dances and the Festa di San Martino in November dedicated to wine.