Albano Laziale, or simply Albano, is one of the most important municipalities in the area known as the Castelli Romani in the Alban Hills (Colli Albani) near Rome. Part of its territory is included in the Parco Regionale dei Colli Albani.
Its highest hill, the Colle dei Capuccini, is located more than 600m above sea level, and offers apart from a wonderful view over Lake Albano, a pine forest and a capuchin monastery.
Between 1699 and 1798 Albano was property of the Holy See.
Albano used to be heavily fortified, but little is left of this, since the old walls towards the end of the 18th century had to make way for the enlargement of the Via Appia Antica.
Fractions of Albano are Castel Savelli, Pavona and Cecchina, where the railway station is located.
Albano Laziale can be reached by bus from the metro stop Anagnina. There are also trains from Roma Termini.
Albano was more or less built at the spot where Ascanio, son of the Trojan hero Enea, founded Albalonga. According to legend, after dreaming of a white sow, Ascanio called his town Alba (“white” in Latin) and Longa given the length of the strip of land. The white sow still is the symbol of the town.
When consul Appio constructed the Via Appia, Albalonga found himself right next to it.
The emperor Domitian later had a large villa built, around which the town developed. For a while it was thought that this villa had belonged to Pompey, which is why a tower near the entrance to the present city is called Torre di Pompeo.
In the 3rd century Septimius Severus built a military camp called Castra Albana near the ancient Alba Longa. The main streets of the present historical centre still partly follow the rigid scheme with its rectangular streets of the Roman “castra”. The external walls of the ancient campare also still visible.
The emperor Caracalla had spas built to appease the soldiers of Castra Albana, who were rebellious after he had killed his brother Geta. The walls of these ancient baths are partly visible in the lower part of the town, where they are sometimes incorporated in today’s buildings. The cistern supplying the baths can still be visited.
Middle Ages till Now
During the Middle Ages Albano experienced a period of decline. The city was virtually abandoned till, thanks to its strategic position on the Via Appia, it became populated again.
Later Albano became property of the Savelli family until 1697 when the Pope acquired it. The papal residence in the city still belongs to the Holy See. During this period many Roman-style churches were built, such as the Santa Maria della Rotonda Church, which was built on the ruins of the ancient Villa of Domitian).
In 1944 Albano was subject to aerial bombardment, which led to the destruction of several buildings and the opening of the so-called Porta Praetoria.
Outside the town there are the remains of special tombs in the shape of conical towers with a square base that are called the Curiazi, recalling the legend of the clash between 3 young Romans of the family of Orazi and 3 brothers of Alba Longa of the family of Curiazi to establish the city that was to rule over the other.
In the 18th century Albano became the summer residence for many important Roman families. The construction of the great Cathedral designed by Francesco Buratti dates back to 1721 and a few years later the new facade of the San Paolo Church on the top of the hill was constructed.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Pancras, built in 1721.
Church of St. Peter the Apostle.
The Church of St. Paul was built in 1282, and contains relics in the form of the bones of Saint Gaspar del Bufalo.
Church and Convent of St. Mary of the Star. Underneath this church, which also contains the tomb of Maria Theresa of Austria, the Catacombs of Saint Senatore can be found. These catacombs contain frescoes that were painted between the 5th and 9th centuries.
Church and convent of St. Bonaventure.
The Santuario di Santa Maria della Rotonda was built over the ruins of Domitian’s Villa. Its design was based on that of the Pantheon and its belltowers are similar to those of medieval churches in Rome itself.
Church of San Filippo Neri.
The Porta Praetoria or Pretorian Gate.
The Palazzo Savelli was built in the 13th century by the family of the same name. Its square towers point to its original function as a fortress. When Albano was bought by the Apostolic Chamber it became the home of the papal government. Nowadays the Palazzo Savelli is the Albano‘s town hall.
Lercaro’s Palace, aka the Bishop’s Palace, was built in 1727. Cardinal Nicolò Maria Lercaro had it constructed in order to accommodate Pope Benedict XIII.
Palazzo Campano was constructed in 1465 by Giannantonio Campano, who was a scholar and also a bishop.
Palazzo Rospigliosi was likewise built by the family that gave it its name. it was constructed in 1667 and nowadays houses the Congregation of Saint Joseph’s Institute Leonardo Murialdo.
The Palazzo Pamhilj is also known as the Palazzo del Collegio Nazareno. It was not named after its builder Cardinal Vincenzo Maculan, but rather after the person who bought it off him, Camillo Francesco Maria Pamphili. It now belongs to the Nazarene College of Rome.
The 17th century Palazzo Paolucci was constructed by Cardinal Fabrizio Paolucci.
The Palazzo Poniatowskj was constructed by Prince Amedeo Poniatowskj.
The Villa Doria Pamphilj is found along the Appian Way and was built by Cardinal Fabrizio Paolucci, but the name comes from the Doria family who later purchased it. There used to be a building on the site, but during World War II this was damaged to such an extent that it was subsequently completely destroyed, to be replaced by what now is the Piazza Mazzini. The Villa itself is now a public park.
The ruins of the Roman villa in the middle of this public park are attributed to Pompey.
Another Villa along the Appian Way is the 18th century Villa Corsini, built by the Corsini family in the 18th century.
The Villa Altieri was built on the site of an old farmhouse.. It dates from the 18th century and is located at the beginning of Albano for people entering the city from Rome. It was commissioned by Cardinal Lorenzo Altieri.
The family Ferrajoli built the Villa Ferrajoli in 1845, over an existing casino. The Villa consists of three buildings. One of the three buildings on the grounds of the Villa Ferrajoli now functions as the Museo Civico di Albano.
The Villa Boncompagni (1857) was constructed by the Boncompagni family. It is located along the Appian Way, boasts a monumental park and often hosted Margherita of Savoy when the latter found herself in Albano.