Overlooking Lake Albano (Castel Gandolfo or), Albano Laziale, near Rome, is one of the largest and most economically strong municipalities of the Castelli Romani area. Traditions narrate that the town's name derives directly from Alba Longa, the ancient Latin capital and mother of Rome, but the best hypothesis suggest that it derives from the Indo-European root "alb-alp" (high places, with clear reference to Mons Albanus , now called Monte Cavo).
The discovery of flint artefacts attest that the area was inhabited since the Paleolithic period and around the IX century B.C. the population of the Albani settled along the shores of Lake Albano - ancient volcanic crater - giving illustrious life to a Latium civilization that brought the kings of Alba Longa to reign for several centuries over the ancient Latium area, when Rome replaced Albalonga as capital of the Latin people. In the Republican era here arose a number of villas, some of which belonged to prominent members of political and cultural Rome, such as Pompeo and Seneca. Reduced to just a small fortified town (oppidulum) during the Gothic War in 964, the Emperor Otto I assigned Albano and other neighboring cities to his Captain Virgilio Savelli. Pope Paschal II granted to the inhabitants of Albano a perpetual exemption from tax of milling wheat for the fidelity gained. Sacked by the Saracens in 1142, in 1168 it was completely destroyed by the Roman people, in revenge for the support given to the Albanians and the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa during their siege against Rome. In 1697 Albano was assigned to the direct control of the Holy See and in 1870 it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
Sites of Interest:
- the Roman Amphitheater, which dates back to the II century A.D., was built by its Roman legionnaires;
- the remains of Camp of the Second Legion Pratica, built in 202 A.D. under the domain of Emperor Septimius Severus. It was a garrison settlement with facilities for about 6,000 men enrolled in the II Legion Practica, also famous as the Albana;
- the ancient Cisterns, still fully functional today;
- the Tomb entitled to the Orazi and the Curiazi, built in the Republican period;
- the Catacombs of San Senatore, built along the Via Appia Antica, enriched by frescoes dating from the IV century A.D. to the Middle Ages;
- the Villa Imperiale, built by Pompeo, features a collection of treasures looted during the Mithridatic War, which became of inheritance to Augustus and his successors;
- the Roman Villa at Cavallacci;
- the Terme (Spa Baths) of Cellomaio, built by the Emperor Caracalla;
- the remains of city walls and Porta Pretoria;
- the Church of Santa Maria della Rotonda, an important shrine which was built on the ruins of an ancient Roman pagan temple. The main altar features an ancient Byzantine style icon, while remains of antique frescoes are preserved in the apse and the altar right side;
- The Cathedral of San Pancrazio, built by the emperor Constantine on the ruins of the Roman basilica. Formerly dedicated to St. John the Baptist, still preserves in the crypt some Ionic capitals of the ancient early Christian Basilica, that Pope Leo III had rebuilt after a devastating fire. The present façade was erected in 1772 by Cardinal Fabrizio Paolucci, who entrusted the task to the architect Carlo Buratti;
- the ancient Church entitled to St. Peter the Apostle, which is flanked by a beautiful Romanesque style Bell Tower;
- the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, houses the relics of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood;
- the baroque Church of St. Bonaventure;
- the XVI century Church of Santa Maria della Stella;
- Castel Savelli;
- the several palaces;
- the Civic Museum.