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Vivaro is in the hills to the west of Rome at a hieight of about 750 metres. Its name derived from Vivarium that signifies plant nursery and where people came to raise animals for food and sacrifice in the time of the Romans. In fact it was inhabited since the 3rd century BC. After the Barbarian invasion it became part of the Lombard Duchy of Spoleto and then became part of the Abbey of Farfa.

During the Middle Ages it was governed by several families among which were the Orsini, Brancaleone, Cenci, the Vitelli, the Ceuli and in the 1600s became the principality of Marcantonio II Borghese, nephew of Pope Paolo V who acquired it.

In 1799, the French destroyed the castle after a long period of resistance. Vivaro sided with Garibaldi during the Risorgimento receiving him with full honours.

Depopulation has been rapid over the past 100 years and now the village is mostly uninhabited by permanent residents. Points of interest include the ruined castle, the church of San Biagio and the nearby Sanctuary of Santa Maria Illuminata.