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Marcellina is located on the slopes of Monte Gennaro and Monte Morra in the park Lucretili Monti, north-east of Rome. Its origins are ancient and here were found the remains of Neanderthal Man along with objects for use in hunting.

The city was built by pre-Roman populations with a classical stepped acropolis and the remains of polygonal walls. The Romans gave it the name of Regillum and Appio Claudio was born here, from whom descended the gens (group of families) of the Claudii and then divided between Claudian, Neroni and Marcelli, from which the name of the area is thought to have derived. The Romans had marble quarries in Marcellina.

In medieval times it was invaded by Barbarians, while Roman villas were transformed into farms and and then fortified centres around a castle. The first document dates back to 1153, when Pope Anastasius IV cites a Marcellinie castrum of his feudal lord Gregorio De Marcellinis. The coat of arms (from 1472 belonging to John Marcellini) was adopted by the city of Marcellina.

From the fourteenth century the feudal lords were the Orsini. After a few other feudal lords, in 1656 Marcellina was ravaged by the plague and the inhabitants abandoned the area to come back after a couple of centuries.