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Gorga is a small village perched on Monte Volpinara, a summit of the Lepini Mountains at 766 meters from which it commands the whole Valle del Fiume Sacco or Valle Latina, because it was originally crossed by this ancient Roman road.

Arriving in Gorga through a classical curvilinear mountain road, you will discover a pleasant plateau dominated by Monte San Martino with its 1287 meters peak. The territory has several very interesting karst phenomena such as the Campo di Caccia cave, with a depth of 610 meters, and the l’Ouso di Passo Pratiglio of 840 meters (in the municipality of Supino).

Its history is very ancient and traces have been found dating back to the Bronze Age when these territories were inhabited by the people of the Volsci.

There are two hypotheses about its name: one has it linked to the name of one of the first families of the village and the other derives from the presence of water that flows here.

During the Roman period, life took place mainly in the valley below where the communication routes that connected Rome with Capua, and then with Naples, passed and where the emperor Marcus Aurelius had transformed a hunting villa of Pompeo Magno into his residence .

The barbarian invasions led to the destruction of this way of life, the villa was transformed into the monastery of Villamagna and the populations increasingly took refuge in fortified villages on high ground. Moreover, with the malaria that had occurred downstream, Gorga’s position also protected people from disease. 

This is the birth of the medieval Gorga that appeared in a ‘bull’ of Pope Urban II of 1088 in which the town was placed under the control of Anagni. Gorga Castle was immediately placed within the Papal States, where all the castles had a lord who was appointed by the church.

In the case of Gorga, before the period of feudal families, the castle was placed under the control of the monastery of Villamagna. With the arrival of Pope Boniface VIII Caetani in Anagni, the monastery was donated to the cathedral of Anagni in 1297 and Gorga entered the possessions of the cathedral. Many feudal families succeeded one another in the control of Gorga and among these were the Counts of Segni.

In the 15th century, Monte Frumentario was established in Gorga, a system devised by the Franciscan Saint Joseph of Leonessa in which the peasants donated a few days of work and some seeds for periods of difficulty for the community.

In 1495, Gorga was devastated by the French army of Charles VIII who was heading towards Naples to retake the throne of Naples which in the meantime had passed to the Spaniards of Aragon.

In the Middle Ages, the fiefdoms brought wealth and income from the exploitation of the lands and the life of the communities was regulated by statutes that controlled every aspect of people’s lives. In Gorga these laws were made during the period of the Conti family.

After the death of the last Conti member and after a dispute between the heirs, in 1648 the fiefdom passed to the Teodoli family of Marsciano of Umbrian origin. But in 1659, Marc’Antonio Teodoli was filled with debts, to the point of having placed himself dependent on Monte Frumentario, and the fiefdom was taken over by the Apostolic Chamber, the governing body of the Papal State.

It was sold at auction and bought by the Pamphili family, which already had its own property in nearby Valmontone. The Pamphili kept it until 1760 when it passed by marriage to the Doria family, originally from Genoa. With greater political stability, the Pamphili transformed the fortress into a residential building, now the seat of the municipality, and built the Church of Santa Maria and a school.

One of the prominent figures of Gorga was Cardinal Santucci who in 1870 had tried to reconcile the relationship between the Kingdom and the Papal State after the unification of Italy.

In 1878 Leone X Pecci was elected pope and, having been born in nearby Carpineto Romano, he also dedicated himself to the embellishment of Gorga with the donation of the Fontana della Pastorella created by the sculptor Ernesto Biondi. The fountain is one of the symbols of the village and was the terminal part of the aqueduct that had brought water to all the houses in the historic centre.

The peasant houses outside the walls have been the ‘stazzi’ for millennia, the typical huts of the Lepini Mountains: circular base masonry buildings with wooden and straw roofs.

During the Second World War, Gorga welcomed the displaced people from the valley during the passage of the allies from the south and in particular of the Moroccan troops.

Today Gorga is famous all over the world for its Astronomical Observatory where, thanks to the distance from sources of light, the abysses of the dark skies can be scrutinized.




Traveller's Guide to Italy