Santa Marinella is a small beach town 60 km north of Rome. It is especially well-known for the quality of its beaches. There are also some interesting castles and a number of excavations of ancient Roman villas and other buildings.
Santa Marinella travel guide
Region: Lazio. Province: Rome. The tourist office (I.A.T. or Ufficio Informazioni e di Accoglienza Turistica) is located at Piazza Civitavecchia – 00058 Santa Marinella (tel. +39 0766513754). The ZIP code (CAP) is 00058. The area code is 0766.
Public transport: Santa Marinella is very easy to reach from Rome. There are direct trains from Roma Termini. The trip takes around one hour and the beach is only a very short walk from the railway station.
What to see in Santa Marinella
The Castello Odescalchi is situated on the remains of the ancient Roman Villa of Ulpianus. Constructed in the 15th century, it has been property of the Odescalchi family since 1887. The three corner towers date back to the 17th century.
The Santa Severa Castle is built near the coast, outside the city center, on what used to be the ancient site of Pyrgi. The castle hosts the Museo Civico, which is dedicated to this Etruscan port. A visit to the museum includes a visit to the underwater ruins, by means of a boat with a transparent bottom.
Castrum Novum is the ruin of an ancient Roman colony, founded in 264 BC.
Another archaeological area is the one of Punicum, which was constructed by the Etruscans. In the 3rd century, the Romans built the Via di Ulpiano near this site.
The Castellina del Marangone is another ancient Eturscan site.
The Villa Romana delle Grottacce is one of the ancient Roman villas that used to dot the coastline. Not much remains of this 1st/2nd century AD complex.
The ancient Via Aurelia consular road runs along Santa Marinella. Along the road there are ruins of multiple ancient Roman bridges.
In Roman times, the Punta della Vipera was a large fish farm. It has a semicircular shape and was connected to the sea by multiple canals. Internal tanks were used to breed fish and molluscs.
The Villa Bettina, the Villa Emanuele and the Villino Cerano are constructructed in an art nouveau style.
Festivals and Events
- The first Sunday after Jan. 17 is the festival of Sant’Antonio Abate.
- March 19 is the festival of San Giuseppe, the patron saint of the city.
- August 15: Festa del Mare (“Feast of the Sea”).
A brief history of Santa Marinella
The oldest archaeological finds in the area indicate that there were settlements as early as the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. The Romans built the Castrum Novum there and during the Middle Ages the town belonged to several feudal lords. The Castello Odescalchi laready existed when the development of Santa Marinella began to develop around a lighthouse in the 16th century.
11th century BC
There are several settlements in the area. Punicum (now Santa Marinella), Pyrgi (today’s Santa Severa, a suburb of Santa Marinella), some trading places of the Phoenicians and the Roman Castrum Novum.
During the Middle Ages, Santa Marinella was successively owned by the Di Vivo, the Anguillara and the Orsini families.
A community of Basilian monks builds a settlement with a monastery and a small church dedicated to Santa Marina and San Leonardo on the site of today’s Castello Odescalchi. The church was probably later incorporated into the castle as a chapel.
Pope Eugenius IV gives the villa Santa Marinella to the canons of Santo Spirito in Sassia. This Roman abbey used to have multiple properties in the area.
Pope Pius V has a number of defensive towers built along the coast, one of which is named Santa Marinella, after a small farming hamlet that has since sprung up there.
Under Pope Urban VII, work begins on a large harbor, which is supposed to shift some of the maritime traffic from Civitavecchia to Santa Marinella. The work will never be completed.
In excavations ordered by the Pope, Gaetano Torraca uncovers the settlements of Castrum Novum and the Etruscan Castellina del Marangone necropolis.
The Santo Spirito Fraternity sells the estate to Prince Baldassare Odescalchi, who divides the land into several pieces.
The Marquis Sacchetti purchases the old post house. While planting some pine trees, he discovers the ruins of a Roman villa. The statues found there are distributed to several museums.
On October 4, Santa Marinella and San Severa secede from Civitavecchia.
The architect Luigi Moretti, who also designed the Watergate Hotel in Washington, has three villas built for Princess Pignatelli: La Saracena, La Califfa and La Moresca.
How to get to Santa Marinella by car
From Rome, take the A12 (Roma-Civitavecchia) in a northerly direction. Santa Marinella is located 10 kilometers south of Civitavecchia. You can also take the SS1 (better known as via Aurelia).