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Anzio History

Anzio History
According to the historian Xenagora Anzio was founded by Anteo, son of Ulysses and the enchantress Circe, while another legend from Trojan history ascribes the birth of the town to Ascanius, son of Aeneas. Although archeological discoveries give evidence of human presence going back as far as the stone age, historical sources have established that the foundation of the actual town named Antium dates back to the beginning of the first millenium B.C.,during the Latium civilisation. Couched against the promontory which brakes the flatness of the Latium coast to the south of Rome from the mouth of the Tiber to Mount Circeo,Anzio owes its origin and its extraordinary development to its dominant position. Latin Antium, flowering commercial city and launching pad of pirate raids all over the Mediterranean sea had in its harbour called "Caenon"the source of its power.

In the picture, the remaining of the Imperial Palace of Nero

Its was occupied by the Volsci about 490 B.C. and it became a fierce adversary of Rome. At the head of other towns which had also become Volscian,Antium entered into a long period of belligerence,characterised by numerous episodes,the most well-known being the one concerning the patrician Coriolanus who,exiled to Antium,became commander of the Volscian troops and dared to threaten the safety of Rome.

The long war finally ended in 338 B.C. with the destruction of Antium by the legions under the command of the consul Marcus Furius Camillus. Whit the rostra wrenched from the ships of Antium the Romans decorated the tribune of the Roman Forum from wich they held their meetings. It was thus called the "Tribune of the Rostra". Roman colony from 338 B.C. Antium supported Cornelius Silla during the civil war and for this reason it was destroyed by Caius Marius in 87 B.C.

Towards the end of the republican era Antium enjoyed a period of great splendour and became the favourite holiday resort of the rich Roman patricians : temples,circuses, mansions adorned the city,while at the same time the most important personages of the period-Marcus Tullius Cicero,Maecenas,Caius Lucrezius and Caesar Augustus-built their villas along the coast line.

During the imperial age all of the Emperors spent some time in Anzio.Here Augustus was proclaimed Father of the Homeland,Caligula wanted to make it the Capital of the Empire,Hadrian described it as one of the most beautiful parts of Italy, but it was Nero, who was born in Anzio, who built the harbour and who adorned the royal palace and the city with marble and famous statues which can be admired today in the most important museums of the world: the Maid of Anzio (Fanciulla d'Anzio-National Museum, Rome) the Borghese Gladiator (Louvre), the Apollo Belvedere (Vatican Museums).

With the fall of the Roman Empire Anzio, wich fell victim to the invasions and plunderings first of the Barbarians and then of the Saracens, Anzio was abandoned by the population wich moved and founded the nearby city of Nettuno. In 1700 Pope Innocent XII financed the building of the harbour which still bears his name and a number of cardinals built their splendid residences. In one of these, Villa Albani, Pope Pius IX used to spend each summer. In the early years of the 20th century, with the growth of Liberty style architecture, Anzio became one of the most renowned holiday resorts in Italy, graced by a number of elegant and majestic buildings.

In 1944, on January 22nd, the Anglo-American troops landed on the shores of Anzio to begin what was to become one of the bloodiest campaigns of the second world war and which ended with the liberation of Rome.