You may wish to see an introduction to this section with a map of the area first.
(left) Route to the old town; (right) Orsini memories (the rose was part of the family coat of arms)
While nearby Castelnuovo was a fiefdom of the Colonna, Morlupo belonged to the Orsini. In 1425 Pope Martin V Colonna destroyed the castle and for a few years Morlupo was assigned to his family; it returned to the Orsini in 1432. In 1598 the castle was given some Renaissance features by Antimo Orsini.
Palazzo Borghese: details
Antimo Orsini wrote his name on most of the doors and windows of the castle, but just a few years later (in 1613) he sold Morlupo to the Borghese. They chose as the residence of their representatives a small palace outside the medieval town. It was decorated with the family heraldic symbols.
(left) Parish church (S. Giovanni Battista); (right) detail of the main square and S. Caterina da Siena
In 1593 Antimo Orsini almost entirely rebuilt the Parish church in the main square. In the XVIIth century another (small) church was built at the western corner of the square.
(left) Coat of arms of Capena; (centre) Palazzo dei Monaci; (right) stairs of Palazzo dei Monaci
The territory around Leprignano has been inhabited since the Iron Age (900 BC); the ancient town of Capena was located two miles from Leprignano. The Romans conquered Capena in 395 BC soon after having destroyed Veio (Veii). In Roman times Capena was renowned for its well farmed fields and its vineyards; by the end of the IIIrd century AD Capena was most likely abandoned because
the last records about the town date back to the time of Emperor Aurelian (270-75). In 1952, few miles east of Leprignano, evidence of Lucus Feroniae, an ancient shrine of the inhabitants of Capena, was found and near it the remains of a small town and of Villa dei Volusii, a Roman villa.
In 1933 Leprignano was renamed Capena, but its coat of arms retains a reference to the old name: a small hare (in Italian: lepre). The medieval town belonged to Monastero di S. Paolo fuori le Mura (also Civitella S. Paolo and Riano belonged to that abbey).
(left) Roman inscription in the Town Hall (it comes from the Forum of ancient Capena and it celebrates Varia Italia, a priestess of a Temple to Ceres and Venus); (centre) Roman column and statue; (right) S. Salvatore painting in (new) S. Michele Arcangelo
Very few people live in the old medieval burg; modern buildings and churches are spread along the road linking Capena with Via Flaminia and memories of the past have been moved to new locations.
(above) S. Leone: medieval reliefs; (below) inscription in old S. Michele Arcangelo celebrating Pope Sixtus IV
Leprignano belonged to Monastero di S. Paolo until 1818; then it was included in the administrative and fiscal system of the Papal State.
(left) Run down XVIIth century building; (centre) Torre dell'Orologio; (right) a restored house
Most historical buildings were badly modified in the last 150 years, but recently some of them were brought back to their original design. The clock shows the Italian Hour.
Return to page one (Introduction, Riano and Castelnuovo di Porto) or move to Lucus Feroniae or to Villa dei Volusii.