All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in March 2012.
(view of Vallerano)
The southern gate of medieval Ronciglione was placed in a hidden position and it was protected by a round tower; the (lost) northern gate at the top of the hill was protected by a small castle; two parallel streets, which have retained most of their medieval appearance, linked the two gates.
During the XIVth century two families competed for the possession of Ronciglione: the Anguillara, who had many fiefdoms around Lake Bracciano, one of which is still named after them, and the Prefetti di Vico, a family of German origin with fiefdoms in northern Latium from Bolsena to Civitavecchia. The bell tower and the fašade are all that is left of a medieval church on the edge of the precipice. The bell tower was redesigned in 1436 and it was embellished with decorated marbles, most likely parts of an old chancel screen.
In the second half of the XVth century, similar to other towns of the region, Ronciglione returned under the direct rule of the pope.
Pope Sixtus IV strengthened the castle at the top of the town. The construction of round rather than square towers was suggested by the first engineering studies on how best walls would withstand the effect of cannonballs (for other images of this castle and of other fortresses near Ronciglione, click here).
In the XVIth century Ronciglione was acquired by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese seniore who in 1534 became Pope Paul III. During his pontificate he united Ronciglione to other family possessions north of Viterbo to form the Duchy of Castro and Ronciglione, which he assigned to his son Pier Luigi.
The Farnese promoted the development and embellishment of Ronciglione. Cardinal Alessandro Farnese iuniore (junior) built an imposing mansion at nearby Caprarola which was designed by il Vignola. According to old sources Vignola designed the elegant main fountain of Ronciglione which was decorated with bronze fleurs-de-lys and unicorns, the heraldic symbols of the Farnese. Today the fountain is attributed to Antonio Gentili da Faenza.
In 1620 Odoardo Duke of Castro, at the time under the regency of his uncle Cardinal Odoardo Farnese, built a grand entrance to Ronciglione which had grown much beyond the medieval settlement. Porta Romana is attributed to il Vignola, but only in the sense that it was built on the basis of a sketch made by the architect.
The Farnese regarded their duchy as a truly independent state, a position which was challenged by Pope Urban VIII and by his successor Innocent X. The latter in 1649 sent troops to invade the duchy and Castro, its capital, was razed to the ground.
Ronciglione did not suffer because of the transition from the Farnese to direct papal authority. A new large church was built on the highest point of the town in the second half of the XVIIth century. There is some uncertainty about the extent of the involvement of Pietro da Cortona and Carlo Rainaldi in the design of the church. The fašade is rather plain, unlike other works of the two architects, whereas the dome resembles those of the twin churches designed by Rainaldi at Piazza del Popolo.
Around Monte Cimino - other pages:
Caprarola, Carbognano and Fabrica
Corchiano, Vignanello and Vallerano
Soriano al Cimino
Latium was enlarged in the 1920s with territories from the neighbouring regions: the map on the left shows the current borders of Latium; the map on the right has links to pages covering towns of historical Latium: in order to see them you must hover and click on the dots.
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