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Lunedì, 13 Luglio 2020

Visit Fondi


According to mythology, Fondi raises in the place in which Hercules, the demigod son of Jupiter, defeated Caco, the monstrous plunderer generated by Vulcano, who had stolen the cattle with which he traveled. To celebrate the success of the hero and the freedom from the menace of Caco, the Ausoni, very skilled people in the field work, erected a temple around which they built a village and established boundaries to their properties. In Latin property or a cultivated area is said “fundus”, in plural “fundi”. Today: Fondi. The urban nucleus of Fondi is situated in the homonym plane mid way between Rome and Naples, spreading on the feet of the Aurunci and Ausoni hills which enclose it on three sides and opening to the south towards the Tirrenean Sea. The surrounding reliefs, culminating on the mount of the Fate and on the mount Calvilli, feed the water table of the plane, which results very rich in water, as proven by existence of over twenty springs and three lakes: Lake of Fondi (Natural Monument now included in the area of the Regional Park of the Ausoni Hills and Fondi Lake), lake Lungo and lake San Puoto. In the pre roman age, the territory of Fondi was inhabited by the Aurunci and immediately afterwards by the Volsci. There are references of “Fundi” in the year 338 B.C. at the time of the Latin war. Afterwards it was granted the roman citizenship without the right to vote, and in188 a.C. it was granted this right. Furthermore, Fondi is referred to in the antique sources for its important wine production, and in particular by the well known Cecubo, a liquorish white wine that was enhanced in poetry by Orazio e Marziale and described by Plini the Old as one of the best wines of the time. The historical down town layout presents the classic roman scheme of two perpendicular orthogonal axes (decumanus and cardinal), enclosed by an encircling square of walls, of which great traces are visible in opus poligonale and in incertum, integrated of towers of later epoch. The main decumanus concurs with the urban part of the Via Appia, coming from Terracina and going towards Itri, while the antique foro corresponds to the now a day’s piazza della Repubblica, where the church of Santa Maria raises. The importance of Fondi in the old ages was also determined by the construction of the Via Appia, started in 312 b.C. Its function of valid protection for the boundaries of the roman territory was reinstated in medieval times, when the city was associated to the ecclesiastic patrimony and the dukedom of Gaeta: this area of the south Pontino becomes in fact very relevant during this time frame, in function of the alternating relations between the Pontificate State and the Reign of Naples (from which it was part). The county of Fondi was first possessed by the Dell’ Aquila family, of Norman origins, and there after (1299) by the Caetani, who made it for almost two centuries, the center of their influence and home of an important artistic development. In 1378 Onorato I Caetani assembled the conclave that elected the antipope Clemente VII, as opposed to the legitimate pontiff Urban VI (schism of the West). Passing afterwards under Aragonian domain, it was granted as a feud to the Colonna – under which it had a renewed period of artistic and cultural splendor thanks to the wealth of the court of Gulia Gonzaga, who established there from 1526 to 1534- and finally to the Sangro. Lady Gonzaga ruled the County of Fondi from 1528, year in which her husband Vespasiano Colonna died, surrounding herself with scholars, artists and poets. She escaped from the city after the ruining incursion of the pirates of the Turkish fleet, whose captain Kair-Ed-Din, so called Barbarossa, who according to the legend tried unsuccessfully to kidnap her in order to give her as a present to the sultan Solimano the Magnificent.


The Caetani Castle is a remarkable monument whether for its size than for the conservation state and is the symbol of the city. It represents one of the few examples in Europe of a fortress built on a plane. With its 33 meters of height it dominates the entire Plane, which can be admired from its vast terrace. It is composed by a magnificent male or round tower (elevated to observation tower and finally adapted for defense), accurately built with cut stone, with battlement sustained by overhanging shelves that greatly rise over a square tower, whose base is formed by great blocks of squared shaped stones, and of the fortress with the high cylindrical towers on the angles, built with irregular stones. These last ones are characterized by the edging with the “piombatoie”, that allowed the defendants to be protected even when they had to throw vertically any kind of projectile or offensive instrument against the offenders. The construction of the fortress can be traced to 1319, along with the restructuration of the city´s surrounding wall performed by Roffredo III Caetani who wanted to make it the center of his lordship. For that purpose was risen the Caetani palace, used as an elegant dwelling directly connected to the castle through a small wooden bridge. The Caetani family had an important role in the city. It was actually under the protection of Onorato Caetani that in 1378 the anti pope Clemente VII was elected in Fondi (schism of the west). In 1504 the dukedom passed to the Colonna and then to the Gonzaga. The figure of the princess Giulia Gonzaga (sung by Ariosto in the Orlando Furioso) is an important one, widow to Vespasiano Colona Earl of Fondi, who had made of his palace a place for cultural gathering such that in renaissance times Fondi was rebaptized as “The small Athens”. The fame of her beauty reached the Saracen corsair Kair-Ed-Din, so called Barbarossa, who planned her kidnapping to give her as a present to the sultan Suleiman “the magnificent”. The legend says that Giulia warned in time, escaped through and underground tunnel found in the same castle.


Inaugurated in July 1997, it is settled into the ground floor of the fortress and it is articulated in two sections: the roman epigraphic one and the medieval and modern. In the first one it is possible to find different archeological material, such as architectural pieces, epigraphs, military columns, funeral urns, reliefs belonging to monumental sepulchers; on the second besides the flags of the lineage of the Aquila, Caetani and Colonna families, that have characterized during centuries the story of the city, it stands out the refined relief in alabaster by Domenico Gagni, father of the well known Giovanni and Antonello, figuring the “Madonna col bambino” (1458). There are numerous findings of historical and artistic interest that have been found in the territory of Fondi at different times: A very famous massive bust of Augusto with strongly idealized traits (relocated in 1936 and today preserved in the National Museum in Napeles); a bust of the young Cesar Augusto (relocated in 2005 and temporarily preserved in the Archeological Museum of Sperlonga); a masculine portrait, which is thought, can be of Giulio Cesare; a statuette of a roman girl in Diana’s robe; some masculine chests, a billy –goat´s head; several marbles among which a circular altar, a marble like balustrade, an urn for ashes, and a certain number of architectonic blocks (of a comprehensive length of over 10 meters) belonging to a marble like monumental epistyle, decorations of a fine frieze with Acanthus flowers and palms united by spirals.


The Caetani Palace, also called Prince´s Palace, is a noteable example of “Mediterranean” renaissance architecture, and as can be deduced from the name, was the dwelling place of the feudal lord, that is of the Caetani, and of the Colonna – Gonzaga. Maybe along with the castle, its construction begun with the first true lordship of the city, assumed by the Dell’ Aquila family. It is thanks to this family, if after the year one thousand Fondi starts to acquire again the appearance of a city and plays an important political – economical roll in the surroundings. The Caetani continued with the design of the Dell’ Aquila family until they brought Fondi to shine with monuments and with art such that under the reign of Giulia Gonzaga and the cultural creativity of the city it was defined as the “small Athens of Italy”. The partly restored palace present different architectonic elements: a door in style angioino durazzesco, as you can see the examples throughout the city and in the medieval neighborhood of Gaeta, and an oval open gallery on the first floor (with another loggia on the second floor), which you reach with an external staircase in the picturesque courtyard. But the most characteristic part of the residence is made by the imaginative decoration of the elegant mullioned windows with one and two lights, of which two internal in the courtyard and two external (in part damaged during the second world war), formed on the top part by a slab of soft stone, worked by piercing such that it looks like a rich embroidery, an uncut panel. Onorato II, who came to great wealth and power, after the Angevin invasion (1464), wanted to render his residence more fit to his new state, called from Naples and from Gaeta a workforce of foreigner artists. It is attributed to the Catalan Matteo Forcimanya the new delicious elegance of line and ornaments, great example of italo-catalan art that can be also found in some buildings of Carinola, Gaeta, Sessa and Capua. The period of reconstruction of the palace can be certainly fixed in the period from 1466 to 1477. In fact Ferrante I grants the Count of Fondi in1466 the privilege of carrying the name and the coat of arms of the house of Aragona, so that the arms of the Caetani along with those of the aragonians sometimes appear in the fireplaces and in the rose windows. The building which was part of the fortified belt from which traces can still be seen along the ring road, results reconstructed over the antique walls in the area comprehended between the castellan belt and the San Pietro church. The fortress and the Palace were united by an arch that constituted the city door towards Naples. There has been also a small wooden bridge between the two buildings (the bridge is visible in the “Annunciation” painted by Cristoforo Scacco in 1499 and today preserved in the cathedral San Pietro).In the interior, the Palace had to be rich in frescos and decorations. However the catastrophic events which it faced during the centuries cancelled great part of the artistic testimonials. However fragments of the frescos remain in several sections that reveal a very refined artistic hand.


The building came to light in 1964 while removing the debris of S. Rocco´s Church, damaged by an air bombing during the Second World War. The church had been built in 1503, and then reduced to a bad condition; it was restored and enlarged during the XIX century. The area was subject to a partial excavation in charge of the Archeological Superintendence for the Lazio region. The roman building, today situated in viale Vittorio Emanuele III., rose immediately outside the antique city along a branch street between the main street and the external branch of the via Appia. Several phases were identified, from the first imperial age (end I century B.C.) to the IV century a.C. when a mosaic with white and black abaculus was done and that is still in part in situ. Due to the reduced area in which the excavation was performed, it was possible to individuate the calidarium (hot bath) and the tepidarium (lukewarm bath), and it is not easy to understand if the implant that came to light belonged to a proper balneum or if it belonged to a suburban villa. Never the less the small size of the different environments and the fact that the marble used, that were found during the excavation, are all of great quality and come from private quarries, it leads to thinking that it belonged to an important imperial villa.


The church and the old convent of San Francesco in Fondi were built by Onorato I Caetani around 1363, on the location of an older and more modest complex, built by the first Franciscan friars that came to Fondi. The convent and the church were rebuilt by Earl Onorato II Caetani, as stated by the inscription made on the architrave of the incoming doorway to the church, so much that he chose it as its last residence. From 1466 the monumental complex belonged to the minor Osservanti friars of the province of Naples. It was lost one first time during the French decennium. Reopened in 1843, was again closed in 1866. The friars returned in 1881 but they stayed for a short time. The entire complex was badly damaged during the last world conflict. In 1960 the Italian director Vittorio De Sica shot here a violent scene of his movie “La Ciociara” with Sophia Loren and Eleonora Brown. The movie is inspirited by the homonymous book of Alberto Moravia. He wrote it in the hills of Fondi, where he took refuge in for some month during the Second World War. Now days a small religious community is responsible of the convent's church that from 1968 became a parish. Preceded by a vast porch with pointed and rounded arches, the inside of the ex convent and of the church reflect the renaissance and medieval epochs. To admire are the stained glass windows with stories that represent the story of the poor of Assisi, performed by the master P. Giorgio Ascione. The church of San Francesco is situated in piazza IV November, just close to the historical center which constituted the antique roman city. The convent complex can be dated around the year two hundred. The church´s interior consists of two naves in gothic style with Romanesque influences and among the engraved tablets in the dividing wall of the two naves you can see the window shaped funeral bas-relief (III-IV century)representing the “coniuctio dextrarum”, the junction of the right hands, in sign of eternal fidelity, that is, of the synthesized marriage in roman law, in the formula “ubi tu Gaius ego Gaia”. The modern choir is remarkable, made of thirteen ogival stalls in tune with the church, which recall the last supper. The convent restructured in 1946, is preceded by a vast porch with rounded arches. The building is structured around a bright cloister in ogivale style, with crossed vaults sustained of octagonal pillars in piperine stone, culminating in palm leaves capitols.


Settled into a vast requalification project of an entirely pedestrian area – including piazza Unitá d’Italia, viale Vittorio Emanuele, piazza IV Novembre and piazza Alcide De Gasperi – the new City hall, inaugurated in 2009, has allowed centralizing the municipality offices. Provided with a large underground parking zone, it is surrounded by a green public area. Accomplished in 2011, the new piazza Alcide De Gasperi, it is inserted in the preexisting urban context. The newly achieved open air theatre can hold 2,500 people, and it is surrounded by a hanging garden with Mediterranean essences. The monument to the fallen with the mosaic created by M Domenico Purificato, inaugurated on November 4th, 1970, can be found inside.


Walking along Corso Appio Claudio – Decumanus Maximus (main street), the antique paved roman street, that connects the Caetanicomplex with the forum of Piazza della Repubblica, you will find the church Santa Maria. The church of S. Maria Assunta is without a doubt, after the castle, the city´s most loved monument. The reason is simple: it is situated in the heart of the historic town center, where the life of the town has always evolved. It is one of the most representative architectonic presences not only of Fondi but of all the south Pontine territory and it has recently celebrated its 500 anniversary. It was strongly wished by Onorato II Caetani, who was immortalized by the statue in the lunette of the entrance portal, along with S. Caterina of Alessandria and the Madonna with the boy. The central portal is of classic style, with the door frames and architraves of white marble finely sculpted with floral motifs and with the flags of the Gaetani d’Aragona. Architectonically speaking it is the last testimonial of a county that little time afterwards would have badly ended under the incursions of the saracenean pirates, but most of all from the malaria and the carelessness of the feudal lords. The architectonic majesty of the structure is highlighted by a large stairway and by a false podium. This is a first reference to the origins of the city where at the time the temples rose from a podium and were accessible through a stairway. The roman civilization is exemplified by the bell tower that steps over via Onorato II. The base of the bell tower is an arch, an architectural element typically roman. The inscription placed on the top to the left of the main portal refers to a specific date the temple dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was constructed to expense of the Count of Fondi Onorato II Gaetani d’Aragona in 1490. On the same area rose a very modest church. It was completely destroyed to make place to the collegiate church of Latin cross shape with six entrances (3 main, and 3 secondary). The inside presents three wide naves, separated by pillars made of square local stone. Further down from the transept three apes open, embellished by frames and ribs in paperine stone. Pinned to the two last pillars, two twin pulpits rise, simple but of impact. The altar completely made out of marble was of 1507. The paving was restructured in 1990 under command of the parish don Giulio Peppe. In the past, from the pavement of the apse it was possible to go down to the crypt reserved to the death clergy. Now the access is closed by a rectangular marble like slab, on which the figure of a bishop dressed with the ritual vest of the XV century, with a calyx in the hand, laying down on the death bed and with the head over a cushion is engraved in bas relief. It is a real masterpiece, and then the tabernacle in the left transept. The church of S. Maria Assunta guards, among others a wooden statue of the Madonna of Heaven venerated by the villagers and others. It was realized by G.B. Amato in 1613 from an olive tree trunk and then gilded. Lots of omens have been attributed. It is taken in procession every 25 years or in exceptional cases. The collegiate church, keeps pictoric masterpieces that witness the artistic vividness of the city in the centuries: A polyptych that pictures the Nativity, painted between 1460 and 1470 by Giovanni da Gaeta, and a Pietà of the same period and artist.


In the existing piazzale of the Benedictine rose a complex composed by a Monastery inhabited by the nuns of the Benedictine order. It was constructed in the XVII century. Of this vast structure remains only a pronaos of that which was the church of san Sebastisano dated of 1140, and over which stands the flag of the Caetani dell ‘Aquila. The construction of the adjacent feminine monastery started in 1589. Previously the religious community had had its headquarters over the hill of Monte Vago a few kilometers from the town center. In the eight hundreds, suppressed the order, the nuns were able to remain in the building until the extinction of their community, which occurred at the beginning of the nine hundreds. The structure, property of the township, at the time was used as a nursery, school and a refuge for the poor families, until a series of collapses occurred and which lead in 1969 to the demolition of the structures that composed the whole complex, excluding the before mentioned vestibule of access to the church.


The quarter of the Olmo Perino was the headquarter for several centuries of a Jewish community settled in the city before the coming of Christianism. The complete lack of churches or of traces of sacred Christian buildings within is one of the most real testimonies of the antiquity of the Jewish community in Fondi. A presence that throughout the centuries is respected, in fact both communities were integrated to such a point that no element leads to thinking of intolerances or prosecutions. An important characteristic of the neighborhood are the external stairways of the houses all pointed towards a common point: the synagogue. The Synagogue was recognized as a place of worship and of school by the teacher Elio Toaff, rabbi head of Rome, and by other Jewish scholars, that over the left door have found the unmistakable sign of the “mezzuzah”: chip in which the roll of prayers of welcome into the house was hung. The Synagogue was also the political, administrative and cultural center of the community. The quarter had its own autonomy, maintaining its own religion, tradition and customs. Very probably the Jews were the first to cultivate the oranges in the plane of Fondi. The activity that stands out among the others is the craftsmanship, the manufacturing of fabric first of all. The rooms on the ground floor that can still be seen at the interior of the courtyards which everybody still calls “Giudea” are certainly textile laboratories. The Jews of Fondi were also employed in goldsmith and maybe in typography. They even probably had a pawn bank. Su much material and spiritual wealth had its effects in the elegant, cult and sumptuous court of the countess Giulia Gonzaga – Colonna. The incursion of the pirate “Barbarossa” (1534) caused the destruction of houses, monuments and files. The city was then hit by different pests and epidemics. Fondi at that time became completely deserted. Little by little the people started to come back and camped in the society centers, but not the Jews. They did not come back to rebuild their powerful and glorious community. Around this building the popular fantasy will create numerous stories of spirits that wander. The stories are so many, it is said of blasts of air, squeaking pavements, closing doors, everything made up to keep away anyone who wanted to live there. The popular tradition originated by the time numerous stories of specters who are haunting in the “Casa degli Spiriti” (the Synagogue) with the crackling floor, nightly screams and wind breezes in the rooms.


The Portella, located to the north of the city, is a reduced round arch that rests on both sides over solid vertical supports and made of two door jams, structured with ashlar blocs in the shape of a parallelepiped, horizontally laid without mortar and finally lined by two square towers. The period of this portion of the wall is from the IV to the I century b.C. The abutments in opus incertum present bows and nooks. It is the only one of the four doors built in the sillano period and in the interior of the castrum, that has remained. Reduced by time in very bad conditions, it was restructured in 2007. An inscription of the architrave of the roman gate reminds of the construction: “The builders Lucius Nomistronius, son of Lucius, Caius Lucius Decianus, son of Marcus, Runzius Messianus, son of Lucius conducted the construction of the wall, the gates, the towers and verified them.


The structures found during the recent restoration of the medieval church of San Martino, dated probably of the XIII century, constitute the peristyle of a domus romana located in the eastern section of the historic center. The fragments of a pavement mosaic, small black abaculus with marble like policrome flakes insertions framed by two white strips spaced by a black one can be dated to the late republican age (maybe in the first decades of the I century b.C.). In the imperial age, the pavement level was raised to hold a peristyle of four colonnade corridors around an open central zone, to which was later added a fountain basin. In the interior of the rooms it was found an accurate hydraulic system with loglines of adduction and outflow of the waters. It is probable that the peristyle had a continuity of life from the augustean age until the III century a.C. Among the gathered material there are pieces of a Corinthian capital, a clay antefix in the shape of gorgon head relative to the roof’s decoration, a part of a feminine statue in lunense marble, a marble column surmounted of a vase from which water came out of the fountain, a piece of inscription, lenticular glasses and stones, one white and one black used in roman times for several table games.


The citizen of Fondi Camillo Cantarano (1875 – 1961) was a magistrate and Senator of the Reign of Italy. The importance of his dwelling does not reside in its architectural complex in the secular age but in its gardens. It is actually within the garden of Villa Cantarano that a piece of the encircling wall of the city is preserved almost intact in two parts (thanks also to a recent renewal); they are two different parts whether by the chronological definition than by the construction technique of the building. The first fortification that limits and encloses the city was built in polygonal shape presumably in the years immediately following the 338 b.C., when Fundi, by having allowed the passage of the roman army through its own territory during the Latin war, it obtains the roman citizenship without the right to vote and without any other active or passive political rights. The walls become the emblem of the changed political situation and manifest the will of the community to adapt to the new status. The first part that is visible in the garden, beginning from the angle of the tower, is in polygonal work. The belt in polygonal work, marked by towers of rectangular layout is meant to enclose and limit the city for almost two centuries. A historical moment that marks positively whether the political life than the institutional development of the city is on 188 B.C. when Rome grants Fondi the right to vote for its fidelity shown during the Annibalic War. With the concession of the vote, Fondi became a roman city to all its effects, a community of cives optimo iure framed in the tribe Aemilia. So the restructuration and reinforcement work of the primitive walling circuit which might have ceded to the time passage due to the collisions, raids and enemy´s attacks can be therefore dated to this period. From the epigraphic testimonials relative to the works performed to the walls, which are redone in doubtful work, it can be deduced that to the program created by the builders, the local magistrates that were in charge of the performance of the work, inserted even the addition of circular towers and the construction of new doors. Never the less in several points the outside curtain of the doubtful work has detached, it can still be recognized the accurate and polished work of the facing side to the point that it can almost be referred to as a reticular work. To the south angle is preserved even the circular tower in which for 4.5 meters in height the doubtful work of the roman construction can be recognized as for the rest it was restored in medieval times and recently restructured. At the top medieval level, the long narrow loopholes can be recognized, from which the movements of the enemy were observed in several directions. Opposite of the tower is preserved the medieval rampart and it can even be recognized part of the medieval belt built at a distance of 5.40 mt. near the roman walls.


Further from the Roman door, outside the castrum, are found the remaining of an antique church dedicated to the Virgin Maria Annunziata, afterwards called of San Bartolomeo. Its origins date of before 1363, as reported in the will of Onorato I Caetani. The entrance to the church was preceded by a porch, collapsed after an air raid in 1943, supported by two columns, still in existence. In the right column of the small standing porch an inscription can be read that recalls its construction in 1427. It seems that to the church it was attached an orphanage for abandoned girls and an internal hospital. In the left part of the church it is preserved a great painting of the fire of Fondi and the escape of Giulia Gonzaga. The church closed to cult and rented as a barn, it was destroyed by a fire in the night of October 6th, 1871. Today of the original religious structure remains the rose window and the mullioned window with two lights in the back at the end of the apse. The building is now private property, used as a residence and for commercial activities.


The urban belt of Fondi is the most characteristic antique monument of the city, which is generally in polygonal work considerably accurate. In great part of the walls there is not yet the tendency to regularity of the disposition of the blocks in horizontal files, never the less, it is very accurate, the faces of the blocks are rubbed down and as a result there are no spaces between the blocks filled with slabs. The wall belt of Fondi has been preserved up to now in the antique limits even though the city was burnt several times, abandoned and restored from medieval times. Of age that for sure is sillana, a partial reconstruction of doors, towers and walls took place as it results on the inscriptions incorporated to the walls. In its construction several phases can be seen that witness the time and the conquers of the construction science. In the first construction of the cyclopic walls, from which remain important examples along via Osci, dei Latini, la Portella, it can be seen the primitive spread settlement limited by walls made of huge blocks, overlapped, without mortar and in steep slope of certain stability thanks to the weight of the same blocks. According to certain scholars these walls belong to the 800 – 700´s b.C. In a second phase we find the l’opus poligonale with blocks of at least 5 sides that fit together until they form a grid that is difficult to attack (ex. via Marconi) even here we are in the presence of walls without mortar. This kind of construction suggests that it belongs to the epoch before to the IV b.C. The third phase of the walls is determined by the introduction of the mortar, which came from the Middle East and reaches Italy towards the third century b.C. With the mortar comes a big revelation, because with it, construction of walls of huge size and more resistant than those of the first two phases was made possible using small blocks that could be handled by a single constructor. With the mortar there was no need for cyclopic blocks with the use of lots of arms of artisans and machines for raising them. A single constructor could get a hold of simple tools and build even important structures. With the mortar the construction technique reaches results that now a day have only been exceeded by reinforced concrete. This phase is present in all its beauty on the east side of the walls in viale . Regina Margherita e via Giulia Gonzaga. The opus incertum and the reticulatum are the most evolved phases, they have no height or width limit, the inside part of the wall is filled with mortar and flakes of the working of the blocks and is of exceptional resistance.


The convent of San Domenico along with the attached church was donated, according to tradition, to the Benedictine Patriarc S. Domenic in 1215. Nothing is certain about the time of its construction, which can be dated in very antique times. It is known that it was restored by the Earl Ruggiero dell ‘Aquila, and then in 1466 the Earl Onorato Caetani II rebuilt it almost from its foundations, enlarging it. In the church, as revealed by the slab to the right of the entrance, is buried the Fondi citizen Giulio Camponesco, young warrior, who was fighting under Prospero Colonna and comrade of arms of Ettore. After that of San Domenico in Naples, Fondi´s convent is the most antique of the Neapolitan area, and the Prior enjoyed the right to vote in the election of the General with provincial honors. Saint Tommaso d’Aquino stayed here for a long time pursuing the office of reader. Even the Pontiff Benedetto XIII honored with his presence when in the year 1727 he went to Benevento to visit his antique Arch bishop´s residence. The Pontiff left Rome on March 26 and going out from Terracina, he had the SS. Sacramento precede him up to the border. Here the Cardinal Abbattitiano, Vice King of Naples, accompanied by the Bishop of Fondi Antonio Carrara da Sora, received him in his carriage up to Fondi, where he spent the night in the convent as a religious of San Domenico. On his way back he rested there as well as on April 1st, 1729, when he had to pass again through Fondi while going a second time to Benevento. In the convent, you can still observe three rooms that were used by S. Tommaso d’Aquino, one where he taught lessons, one where he slept and in which even mass was celebrated and the third that was the oratory where his body rested after death of the religious. In the convent´s garden there was an orange tree with the roots upwards, which tradition says was planted by S. Tommaso and which borne a lot of fruit. It dried afterwards and was kept by the mercy of the faith full under the altar where rested the body of the Saint. The famous Scholar Orazio Comes (1848-1917), director of the agriculture school of Portici, during a short residence in this city, closely studied the remains of the log and after serious reflections, revaluated the thesis as tradition said with the roots on top. He scientifically explained the technique of such planting method; he even suggested it was not new to discover this kind of planting technique. In the same garden still exists the small well where the Saint Doctor drew the water, which was supposedly built for his use. This angelical Doctor died on March 7th, 1274 in Fossanova. The body after several mishaps, by order of Urbano V, in 1367 was transported to Toulouse in France, in the church of the Dominican Fathers, and thus to remove the serious disputes between the monks of Fossanova and the Dominican friars of Fondi. Since a couple of years the convent is object of a significant restructuration. Therefore it was possible to discover a church inside it: Santa Maria Antiqua. The church has been dedicated to Saint Tommaso in 2007 and is opened to cult after eight centuries. Inside it has medieval frescos. After the hole restructuration of the complex, the structure will house multimedia rooms, exhibition spaces and cultural and didactic activities.


This monumental church of Fondi, of three naves in gothic style, boasts an antique origin in apostolic times. Tradition wants it to be from before the antique temple of Giove or a small church built in the neighboring areas of the mercy of the first Christians converted by the voice of the Saint Apostles Peter and Paul. Later on, once the number of Christians grew, San Paul da Nola thought of its enlargement converting it in cathedral that he dedicated to the Virgin mother of God. It would have been the earl of Fondi, Leoni Caetani, great grandchild of the Pontifice Gelasio II, senator of Rome, pushed by his compassion and generosity, to make the reconstruction of the church that was entitled S Pietro and on December 12, 1638 was consecrated by the bishop Maurizio Rogano, as it can be read in the epigraph that is to the left of who enters the church. The facade of the church, all in chiseled travertine, is of renaissance style, while the entrance way remained as it was, of antique gothic style with two columns resting over lions that sustain the lintel, having above a rosette of probable Norman style. The modern of the lunette represents the evangelic episode of Jesus that gives the keys to San Peter. In the middle of the lintel is another mosaic with Jesus Christus in the garden of Gethsemane. On the entrance arch, just over the ledge that horizontally divides the façade, stands in a shrine, such treasure of antiquity and of art that is the confession, consisting of the statue of S. Peter dressed of pontifical vests with the triple crown over the head in the act of blessing the city and in a ward sustained by two marble columns correctly worked. Coming in to the right, is the epigraph that recalls the auspicious event of the passage of Pio IX, accompanied by King Ferdinand II, when coming back from Gaeta to Rome. Incorporated between the apse and the series of side chapels in cornu epistolae, the bell tower, dating of the second half of the XIII century, is presented, in the mixture of Romanesque mullioned windows in full center, mullioned windows with two lights in pointed arch, mullioned windows with two lights trefoil in the same level as an inorganic architectonic work. In the chapter house is still preserved the marble like throne, best known as the “chair of the anti-pope” Clemente VII, the Swiss Roberto of Geneva elected in Fondi by 13 French and Italian cardinals, protected by Onorato I Caetani, on September 20, 1378 in opposition of Urbano VI. Precisely over that throne Clemente VII took the tiara from the hands of the Earl of Fondi, thus causing the great Schism of the West. The church keeps two splendid paintings: The Annunciation of Cristofero Scacco (1499) and the tryptich Maestà with Saint Peter and Paul of Antoniazzo Romano (1479). At end of the nave rises a byzantine stile cross with Christ painted on wood.


Fondi is rich of small architectonic and artistic jewels of value, worthy of being visited. Exception made of all the buildings previously mentioned in the several itineraries, most of all in the castrum, there are other very interesting ones outside of it, such as the Church of Madonna del Soccorso recently restored, the ex-church of San Giovanni Gerosolimitano and the church of S. Maria Romana (IX century) in the foresta demaniale di S. Arcangelo (in the locality of Querce), close to an adjacent botanical garden. Even further out of the urban core we find the antique Appia, the abbey of San Magno and the sanctuary of Madonna de la Rocca. This city is not only splendid for its antique remaining and testimonies, but it also has a lot to offer even by its nature. It has a costal lake of a characteristic shape of half moon – the largest of the laghi costieri of the Latium, which joins the sea trough two channels, the Sant’Anastasia and the Canneto. In Antiquity it was known as Amyclanus (it was the name of the antique city close to the lake). The lake of Fondi has an diameter of more than 25km and a surface of 4,5km², with a medial deepness of 9m. To frame the lake stretch around 13 km of sandy golden coast. Hereafter all this aspects that surround and complete a picture of the thousand facets will be touched.


To the feet of the Arcano Mount, near to the source that feeds the Licola River, raises the Abbey of San Magno, which dominates the Demetriano Field with its austere and majestic profile. Here around 522 a.C., San Onorato wants to establish, with the objective of perpetuating the memory of the martyrdom of San Magno, along with other 2597 Christians, in a monastic complex that includes a church, a curtis for the economic function, the cloister, the dormitory and the dining hall for the monks. The monastery was ruled until 1072 by the ordinary abbot without any dependence, after which it was donated to the abbey of Montecassino of Gerardo Consul of Fondi. In the XV century it was rebuilt by Prospero Colonna. The tradition says that the body of San Magno, in honor of which the monastery and the church were constructed, rested in its crypt until around the year 847, when it was taken by Platone di Veroli, who took him to his homeland in Veroli and put him to rest in the church of S. Anderea. Here it remained for 30 years, because with the invasion of the city of Veroli by the saracenian, the body of the Saint, was taken and sold to the city of Anagni. The role of the abbey not only in the religious sense, but even on the economic and social, is of importance throughout the centuries, it was subject to numerous raids and destructions by the barbarians. The French in 1798 demolished several rooms of the convent after sacking it and left it to the mercy of the “vultures”. After a very long abandonment period during which it reached the maximum degradation, due to the exposition to the elements and the improper use to which it was subject, the Abbey has recently undergone a restoration works and can be visited in all its beauty. In the high medieval period, on the top of the terracing over which it is settled (of roman times of uncertain doing) a necropolis was inserted. The burial ground consists of fifteen graves visible in part thanks to the glass pavement of the inferior church. Afterwards over the front of the house was constructed a church of Christian cult; it was in shape of Latin cross, with a crypt below the choir accessible by a stair that was included in the following medieval structure. The crypt was constructed around a well that most probably kept reliques. The apse and the transept are decorated with frescos of the XII century that narrate the life of San Benedetto, even if underneath them there were found other frescos dated of the XI century. In the structure it is still visible the last phase of the life of the complex with the mill, that even after the centuries it is still in working conditions nowadays, the vases for the oil production. As for the rest, even about the monastery there is a legend. The whole structure of the monastery is surmounted by a huge rock that seems that it is about to fall down even if it has been there from the VI century. Legend says that the hand of Sant’Onorato stopped the rock not to fall on the complex after being separated from the mountain was set down.


On the via Apia, on the Rome side, immediately after the branch to Lenola on the right you reach the church of San Giovanni Gerosolimitano. The small church is mentioned in an antique text of the XIII century, which testifies the existence of a small temple near that zone. A peace treaty of 1400 testifies that this church was in possession of the Caetani for certain time. In 1599 the building of cult, in good preservation conditions, belonged to the military- religious order of the Ospedalieri di San Giovanni Gerosolimitano friars, there after named “Cavalieri di Malta”. The church has a rectangular layout of almost 31 x 10 meters and a single nave divided from the choir by an arch. The main entrance is on the side of the Appia. The building had a beautiful cosmati stile pulpit, dating of 1286, now in the church of San Pietro, a small basin for holy water, two bells on top of the real estate such as land and vineyards, and rooms for rent. The church was constructed in front of the memorial monument of roman times (I century b. Chr.) built with big square stone blocks, attributed to the Fondi citizen Gavio Nauta after the finding in the spot a Latin inscription.


About the church of the Madonna del Soccorso it is missing reliable evidence about the foundation date. Most likely it already existed at the end of the XIV century but the architectural elements don’t help to the work of a precise dating. The first mention goes back to 1599 when the Bishop of Fondi Giovanni Battista Comparini visited it. The church at this time results as property of the township. The report of the pastoral visit of the Bishop quotes that this church was surrounded by bogs and swamps. In 1610 the church results as property of the father Gerolomini, but after a short time the unhealthy conditions of the neighboring swamps forced the monks to abandon the religious building. The church has a rural Romanesque aspect. A façade presents two ogival arcades sustained in the center by a pillar. The entrance is through the right arcade. The roof is pitched. Over the roof there is a small bell tower. In the back there is another entrance, with over another ogival arcade. The interior is of single nave with rounded arcades. The fresco in the sacristy dates of the XVII century and was commissioned by Comparini. In the beginning of the XVI. Century there were in the inside of the church works that have today disappear: two altars, a basin for holy water, votive offering, gold grails and silken drapes. Of the same period there were two images of the Madonna with Bambino, one of marble and the other of alabaster attributed to Domenico Gagini. The second one (from 1458) is preserved in the Civic Museum. Recently one of the two bells from the church has been recovered. It has an inscription that attributes it to Onorato II Caetani (1451), which is now preserved in the Civic Museum of Fondi.


The most important street of the city of Fondi in roman times is The Appia, which initially connected Rome to Capua and was later on continued to Brindisi. This street crossed all of Fondi’s territory. In the part that passes through the Aurunci Mounts between Fondi and Formia, the street just in part imitated by the modern street, preserves bewildering evidence of its antique story, with temples, residences, mausoleums, bridges, cave cuttings, great terracing in polygonal work, magnificent traits of basalt pavement, fountains, service stations, borbonic milestones. The rise from Fondi is dominated by a sanctuary dedicated to Apollo, which was developed over terraces of the last republican times. Today three Km of street remaining out of use from the end of the eight hundreds are part of the Parco Regionale dei Monti Aurunci of the via Appia between the city of Fondi and Itri. The roman street preserves for long sections the basaltic pavement, renewed by the Emperor Caracalla in 216 a.C. Among others it preserves magnificent works of terracing over the perpendicular wall, in several polygonal works that evidence the different interventions made in order to keep it working in complete efficiency. After the antique times the main interventions are due to Perafán de Ribera, Vice King of Naples representing Filippo II king of Spain, that in 1568 renewed the pavement and rebuilt the bridges, among which it is spectacular that over the ditch of S. Andrea, now restored after the damage of the last war. Ferdinand IV of Bourbon in 1767 – 1768 then completely renewed the street, graveling it and adapting sidewalks to the drains of the rain water, renewing bridges and railings that can still be seen along the whole way. The ruins of the Apollo sanctuary at the middle of the way, from which remain huge terraces in polygonal work and of doubtful work, that articulate for 205 m. on the front of the ditch, built between the IV and I century b.C. The temple´s building, renewed by Caracalla, still existed in the end of the Vi century, when in the inside was constructed the chapel dedicated to S. Andrea Apostolo, from which remains the name of the valley and the fortress that in Napoleonic ages was constructed in the spot. In this area it is possible to see a rest area from the I century a.C. with a cistern of doubtful work. This part of the antique via Appia corrispondes to a part of the via Francigena of the south. From the middle age on it has been walked-on by pilgrims who passed on their way to the Holy Land or from South Italy to Rome.


A kilometer from Fondi, going towards Itri on the Via Appia, it can be seen on the left side besides a roman reticulate wall, a roadway that takes to the top of the mountain called Monte Vago, or “Tirozzo”. On the top it can be seen one of the most superb remaining of roman architecture in this zone. In fact it rose from the hill, over a magnificent base of wall made of huge square calcareous blocks and worked to rough brugna, a temple that tradition says dedicated to Iside, Egyptian deity fertilizer of the ground. In the middle of this vast square you can observe several caves of different arches used as, maybe by the priests, as water deposits for the use of the temple. Over the remaining of this temple was constructed a nun convent, that is said to have been destroyed by the pirates of Barbarossa in August 1534, when the kidnapping of the beautiful Countess Giulia Gonzaga failed. In the convent were killed around twenty Benedictine nuns and the building burnt. To the locality remains the name of house of the nuns. In the beginning of the 900’s the Doctor Bruto Amante bought the place and built a dwelling to which he gave the name of Monte Vago. During the excavations for the foundations, a lot of bones were found that Amante attributed to the nuns killed in 1534.


As part of the meetings that have taken place since 1997 between the City of Fondi and the City of Dachau have developed cordial and promising contacts based of mutual sympathy and tend to deepen mutual understanding and cooperation. In the desire to expand these contacts, creating a lasting relationship, intense and fruitful between the two municipalities, both cities have signed a contract in August 1998 twinning, signed by the Mayor of Fondi Onoratino Orticello and the Burgomaster of the Bavarian Town Kurt Piller. The link between Bavaria and Fondi goes back to the 30s of last century, when many traders of Fondi had woven the first German economic relations with the region. Following the twinning relationship between the Fondi and Dachau has become increasingly intense and frequent occasions, and offers opportunities to see, based on mutual visits, exchange of delegations of young and old, common activities, strengthening friendship and cooperation and promoting knowledge of the history, culture and traditions of their respective towns.