Velletri is one of the towns in the hills near Rome that are known as the Castelli Romani. It is located on the Monte Artemisio hill, overlooks the Pontina Plain and is one of Lazio‘s main wine producing towns. Its distance from Rome is around 40km.
Velletri travel guide
Tourist office: The PIT (Punto Informazioni Turistiche) is in the Piazza Garibaldi. Opening hours: Tuesday, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 till 12:30. Tuesdays also from 16:30 till 19:30. Phone: +39 389529212.
The address of the Town Hall is Piazza Cesare Ottaviano Augusto, 1 – 00049 Velletri (Phone: +3906961581). Postal code: 00049. Area code: 06. Suburbs: Malatesta, Sole Luna, Cinquarchi and Cigliolo.
Public transport: You can travel directly from Roma Termini central station to Velletri without changing trains. The travel time is about one hour and the price of a one-way ticket is 1,50 Euro (2022). There is also a regular Co.tral bus service from the Anagnina metro station (metro line A). The bus is recommended if you want to visit one or more of the picturesque Castelli Romani towon the way back.
Velletri tourist attractions
The Palazzo Comunale is the seat of Velletri‘s Archeological Museum. Though built by Giacomo della Porta, it was designed by Vignola (the portico is famous). Della Porta started in 1572 and Filippo Barigioni finished the work in 1741. Partially destroyed in World War II, it was rebuilt as faithfully as possible to the original.
The Museo Civico Archeologico “Oreste Nardini” exhibits finds made in the territory of the city. The most famous attraction is the so-called Sarcophagus of Velletri. Its seat is the Palazzo Comunale.
Church of Sant’Antonio Abate: 14th century church.
The Cathedral of San Clemente was originally built on top of an old temple (4th century), but later, between 1659 and 1662, reconstructed. Traiano da Palestrina built the Renaissance Gate in 1512. Noteworthy are the frescoes and the Capitular Museum, with works by a.o. Gentile da Fabriano, Antoniazzo Romano and Lorenzo di Bicci.
The Museo Diocesano is located in the cloister of the cathedral. A highlight is a reliquary from the 11th/12th century, but there are also paintings by famous masters such as Gentile da Fabriano, Bicci di Lorenzo and Antoniazzo Romano.
The Santa Maria del Trivio Church was built in the 14th century, although it too has undergone many changes in the intervening centuries. The latest restoration had become necessary after the church was damaged in World War II. The Torre del Trivio is about as old as the church itself.
Tempietto Bramantesco: Dated 1523, constructed by Alessandro da Parma.
The Chiesa di San Martino is first mentioned in the 11th century. Originally the architecture of this church was Gothic, but after the Battle of Velletri in 1744 the current version was built under the direction of the architect Nicola Giansimoni. The facade is the work of Matteo Lovatti (1825).
Piazza Garibaldi: The central square of Velletri.
In the 17th century an aqueduct (the Acquedotto del Simbrivio) was designed by the architect Giovanni Fontana to carry water to the city. Afte its completion, several monumental fountains were built, the most notable being the Simbrivio Fountain in the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi.
The Parco di Villa Ginnetti was part of one of the most beautiful buildings in Velletri, the Palazzo Ginnetti. The building was destroyed in the war, but the enormous garden still exists, as well as the monumental entrance gate.
The Palazzo Vecchio is also called the Palazzo dei Conservatori and was built in 1822, as the seat of the Delegation of Velletri. In 1870 it became the seat of the law offices and of the Courthouse. This palace was also heavily damaged in the war and reconstructed as best as possible.
Velletri used to possess huge city walls, parts of which are still standing. Of the eight medieval city gates, only the immense Porta Napoletana, with bastions on both sides, remains.
History of Velletri
Velletri began its existence as a settlement of a people called Volsci, who, as one can be deduced from inscriptions on excavated pottery, were extremely influenced by the Etruscans. The name of this village was Velester.
In 494 BC the Roman King Ancus Marcius conquered the city and called it Velitrae. It developed into a flourishing and important city, with an amphitheater and a number of villas and temples.
In the surroundings of Velletri, along the Via Appia (now known as the Via Appia Antica), the richer Romans built their villas and it is here that the first emperor, Augustus, was (probably) born and spent his youth.
In the 4th century, the Cathedral was built, on the ruins of an ancient basilica. (At that time, by the way, a basilica was not a church, but a word for a certain type of structure.)
In the year 410, Velletri was razed to the ground by the Goths.
During the late Middle Ages the city became embroiled in a conflict with Rome. Point of contention was the autonomy of Velletri, which was first lost in 1312, but later regained, before finally being given up definitively in 1541.
Later its importance gradually diminished, although it became the seat of a bishopric in the 5th century and then an Imperial city (after the Byzantine conquest of Italy). In the 12th century Velletri became a free commune and then, after 14th and 15th century wars against Rome, part of the Church State.
In the 14th century, the Santa Maria in Trivio Church, one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, was built.
As a result of the city’s strategic location, in 1744 the Battle of Velletri took place, fought between the Austrians and the Neapolitans, during which some of the city’s most beautiful buildings were severely damaged.
Another battle took place in 1798, this time between the French and the Sanfedists (a Catholic anti-Republican movement that sought to restore the Bourbon Kingdom to Naples, in which they would also succeed).
In 1849, the army of the Republic of Rome and that of the Bourbons were allowed to fight it out in a brawl.
German bombing raids in World War II again caused extensive damage to a number of important buildings in the city. The Palazzo Comunale and the Palazzo Vecchio were rebuilt after the war as faithfully as possible to the original.
Events and festivals
The most important annual festival is the “Grape and Wine Festival” (Festa dell’Uva e del Vino), which usually takes place on the third Sunday of September. In March, the Festival of the Camellia is held.
Hotels and B&B’s in Velletri
- Albergo Roma: (1-Star Hotel, Viale Rome, 26) Albergo Roma is centrally located near Piazza Garibaldi and close to many Velletri bars, restaurants, pizzeria and shopping venues. Double rooms from 30 Euros.
- Bed and Breakfast L’Elce: (2-Star B&B, Via Acqua Lucia, 47) L’Elce B&B is a villa on two floors surrounded by a vast private park with huge chestnut, holly, hazelnut and olive trees. Average rate double room 45 Euros.
- B&B IL Casale di Colle Ionci: (2-Star B&B, Via Acqua Lucia, 27) Il Casale B&B is housed in a two story 17th-century building dating and has various annexes. It is located inside an enormous park. Double rooms from 45 Euros.