"Historic Itri" Itri Travelogue by NonnaLou

Itri Travel Guide: 27 reviews and 61 photos

The historic town of Itri is situated a few kilometres inland, between the towns of Fondi and Formia, and rests in a valley, nestling among the foothills of the Aurunci Mountains.

The town of Itri is divided into two halves, the upper, historic, medieval town, and the lower sprawling, more contemporary section.

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Roman Remains

The infamous highway, the Via Appia, runs directly through the town and is a testament to the remarkable organisational and engineering ability of the Romans. Construction of this, the first and most famous of the ancient Roman roads, was commenced in 312 AD by the Appius Claudius Caecus. It was called the "Queen of Roads" (Regina Viarum) and was to be the main means of communication between Rome to the south, to Capua, and was later extended down to Brindisi, with a total length of more than 563 km (350 miles).

Just outside Itri original sections of this road can still be seen, paved with smoothly fitting blocks of hard wearing lava.

Cicero, the Roman orator, writer and statesman, was brutally murdered in 43 BC on the Appian Way.

He had opposed Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, and the latter ordered his assassination. Cicero was apprehended whilst trying to flee from his political enemies, and was beheaded and had his hands severed.

Cicero’s Tomb, a cylindrical tower, is situated on the Via Appia, near to Itri, on the outskirts of Formia.

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Charles Dickens Visited Itri

During the era when young British aristocrats and scholars undertook the cultural “Grand Tour” of Italy, a common itinerary would have included Rome, Venice, Florence and Naples. Thus many great artists and writers would have journeyed along the route of the Via Appia, and Itri may have been a welcoming resting place for weary travellers.

Charles Dickens, when travelling through Itri during the 19th century described the castle in his journal as being “like a device in pastry, built up, almost perpendicularly, on a hill, and approached by long steep flights of steps.”

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The Castle

The dominating castle, dating back to the 9th century, is strategically positioned high on a hill, providing a commanding view of the surrounding area. The twin towered castle, with its formidable walls and ramparts was considered to be impregnable. The round tower was given the name of the “Alligator Tower”, as it is said that it contained a pool, which was the home of an alligator which fed on unfortunate prisoners who had been condemned to death.

Recently the castle has undergone extensive reconstruction and renovation. It was partly destroyed in 1944 when Itri was savagely pounded by aerial bombardment, which left seventy five per cent of Itri in ruins. The castle is now used for exhibitions and cultural events and an atmospheric setting for summer music and film festivals.

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The Historic Centre of Upper Itri

The historical centre, in upper Itri can be reached both on foot and by car. The fortified medieval quarter is a maze of narrow cobbled streets, archways, gates and stairways.

The beautiful bell tower and sections of the roof are tragically all that remains of the 11th Century church of San Michele Archangelo.

The church of St. Maria Maggiore also suffered badly during the bombing and was practically destroyed, however the domed bell tower, constructed in 200 AD was mercifully spared, and has now been restored to its original splendour.

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MY ITRI / SOUTH LAZIO WEBSITE

For more information about SPERLONGA and the SOUTH LAZIO area
please take a look at my SOUTH LAZIO WEBSITE :

http://southlazio.shapcott-family.com

  • Page Updated Sep 1, 2009
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