Caetani Castle - Sermoneta (Italy)
The origins of the Caetani castle, located in the medieval village of Sermoneta, date back to the XIII century when the Holy See entrusted the towns of Sermoneta, Bassiano, San Donato and other annexed territories to the baronial family of the Annibaldi.
The Annibaldi built an imposing fortress characterized by the Maschio, a 42-meter-high tower and a tower, called Maschietto. The fortress represented the fulcrum of city life, with the Church of San Pietro in Corte built in Piazza D'Armi and the large cistern for collecting rainwater built to overcome the lack of water due to the high geographical position.
In 1297 Pietro II Caetani, Count of Caserta, bought Sermoneta, Bassiano and San Donato for the sum of 140 thousand gold florins and Ninfa for 200 thousand. The Annibaldi were in difficult economic conditions, so it was not difficult for the Caetani to take possession of those territories that had strategic importance: at the gates of Rome, close to the Tyrrhenian Sea and crossed by the Appian Way and the Pedemontana way, at the only time passable for those who went to the south.
The Caetani began work on expansion and construction. An imposing work dating back to the 14th is the "Sala dei Baroni", 22 meters long, used as a center of discussion of the feudal affairs.
The Caetani resided permanently in the castle only from the fifteenth century, when James II obtained the rights of general vicariate.
In the second half of the fifteenth century, Honored III Caetani came to power, he too dedicated himself to building, but above all to art. The "Camere Pinte" dates back to 1470, rooms frescoed with mythological figures painted by an unknown artist, probably belonging to the Pinturicchio School.
In 1499 the rise of the Caetani was interrupted by Alexander VI Borgia who excommunicated them with a pontifical bull, taking away their property, privileges and rights.
Under the Borgia the castle became a military fortress, fortified the walls, destroyed the last floor of the Maschio and razed the Church of San Pietro in Corte, without any respect for the remains of the Caetani buried there since 1400. The castle became so impenetrable that, in 1536, the same Charles V with 1000 horses and 4000 infantry could not conquer it.
On the death of Alexander VI, Julius II in 1504 reconfirmed the Caetani Lords of Sermoneta.
In the seventeenth century Sermoneta no longer had the strategic importance of the past, so the Caetani moved elsewhere: the slow abandonment of the castle began. In the eighteenth century suffered devastation and looting by the Spanish and French military, during the nineteenth century was in such bad condition that it was leased as a military warehouse and foodstuffs. Only at the end of the nineteenth century the Caetani returned to occupy it by initiating massive restoration work and transforming it into a social and educational center.
Today the Roffredo Caetani Foundation protects and preserves it, trying to perpetuate the work begun by the centuries-old Casato.