Zagarolo is a small town in the province of Rome. It is located east of Rome itself and borders directly on the capital. Although the historic center is very small (actually not much more than a rather narrow main street with some side streets), it is very pleasant to walk around, since those alleys are generally decorated with flowers. The most important attractions are the Palazzo Rospigliosi and the Toy Museum.
Zagarolo travel guide
Zagarolo does not have a tourist office. The address of the town hall is Comune – Piazza G. Marconi, 2 (Phone: + 39 06 95769203).
Public transport: The town is on the train line Rome-Cassino-Naples. From Rome, there are also regular Cotral bus connections to Zagarolo, both from Anagnina (last stop of metro line A), and from the bus station of Grotte Celoni.
Zagarolo’s ZIP code is 00039 and the area code is the same as that of Rome itself, (+39 06). The town has one suburb, Valle Martella.
What to see
Both the most famous church (Santa Maria Annunziata Church) and the most famous palace (Palazzo Rospigliosi) were commissioned by members of the Colonna family. Other attractions include the Porta Rospigliosi and the churches San Pietro Apostolo and San Lorenzo Martire. A separate attraction for children is the city’s Toy Museum (Museo del Giocattolo).
The biggest and best known tourist attraction of Zagarolo is the Palazzo Rospigliosi, which houses the town’s Toy Museum. The building has undergone several restorations and renovations over the centuries. The murals date back to the second half of the 16th century. It often hosts exhibitions and other events.
Santa Maria Annunziata Church
The Santa Maria Annunziata Church was built in 1592 and has a beautiful octagonal bell tower with an onion-shaped dome. The church was commissioned by the Rospigliosi family.
The Museo del Giocattolo is one of the most famous attractions in Zagarolo. It is housed in part of the Palazzo Rospigliosi and has a wonderful collection of toys. In the last room there are large bins of lego, which children (and adults) can play with to their heart’s content.
Santa Maria delle Grazie Church
The Santa Maria delle Grazie Church was built in the 13th century.
San Pietro Apostolo Cathedral
The Baroque Cathedral of Zagarolo is dedicated to San Pietro Apostolo and was built in 1717.
A brief history of Zagarolo
The history of Zagarolo is largely dependent on the time the Colonna family held power there, and the main buildings in the center were therefore built on their behalf.
Even before Roman times, there were settlements at the site where Zagarolo is located, which is proven by excavations in the territory of the town.
The name of the town comes from the Latin sagum, which was the name of the uniform Roman soldiers used to wear.
During the Middle Ages, Zagarolo was repeatedly destroyed by the papal armies when they had to act against the rebellious Colonna family.
In 1439 the center was completely destroyed by the Vitelleschi.
In 1569, the city became a Duchy.
In 1580 Pompeo Colonna began a reconstruction of the city with a complete renovation of the Santa Maria Annunziata Church, still the main landmark of the city.
His son Marzio Colonna subsequently transformed the medieval borgo into a Renaissance center by having several prestigious palaces built there.
However, since he spent more money than he could actually afford, he was forced to sell the town to Cardinal Ludovisi. The Cardinal later resold it to Prince Giovan Battista Rospigliosi.
Although formerly an agricultural community, today Zagarolo has become a more industrial town.
How to get to Zagarolo by car
By car: From the Grande Raccordo Anulare follow the E821 until you reach San Cesario for the exit to your destination. From the city center you can also take the slower SR6 (or Via Casilina), which leads directly to Zagarolo.