A brief history
The magnificent past
At the end of the Etruscan supremacy in the region of Lazio “Terracina” it was in fact handed over to the Italian population, named the Volscians, who then changed its name to “Anxur” . Only after a long period of wars was the foundation of the maritime colony, in 329 B.C. sanctioned. This was of strategic importance for the military and commercial penetration south of the peninsular.
The oldest part of the town, enclosed in the polygonal town walls, was built on the western slope of Mount Sant’Angelo, which extended towards the Valley and the marshes known as the Cannete. Stories from the Roman period tell of the growth of the town and the exploitation of the fertile land to the east, and how the town extended and became inhabited down near the sea , while the original part of the town on the hill remained the more elegant area, rich in mansions and monuments.
During the age of Silla, several monuments in opus incertum and reticulatum, such as the Roman theatre were built, as were the walls that surrounded the monument of Mount Sant’Angelo and the construction of the magnificent Temple of Juppiter Anxur. During the Imperial age between the 1st and 2nd century A.D., there was a second phase of construction in the town, including the great Emilian Forum, the Municipal Square surrounded by porticos and numerous religious and civil buildings and finally the new Trajan port.
The collapse of the Roman Empire dragged the town into a long period of decline.
The ancient Volscian-Roman walls were replaced by a new fortification and Terracina became even more of a fortified town under the influence of the Pontifical State and repeated attempts of feudalism by the noble families of Lazio and the Kingdom of Naples. Meanwhile the expansion of the marshes and the spreading of malaria, progressively reduced the number of inhabitants. Terracina had to wait until the end of the 18th century for its proud recovery when it became the political, administrative and technical centre of the reclamation of the Pontine Marshes much desired by Pope Pious VI. The old town thus became de-militarized and the fortified structures changed their role and became private residences, and public and religious buildings such as the Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace.
The lower urban centre of the town was reclaimed and the area, now known as Borgo Pio, was built. Its development continued all through the 19th century until the beginning of the 20th century overlapping the reconstruction of the area after the World Wars.
Territory of Terracina
Terracina is situated at the farthest point of the Ausoni Mountain range, at the only point where the mountains reach the Tyrrhenian Sea. Terracina is to be found in a beautiful and charming inlet between the Promontory of Circeo and the Point of Gaeta, and welcomes tourists from all parts of the world.
If you come along the Old Appian Way it is 102 kms from Rome and 135 kms from Naples. To avoid the awkward route through the old town and across Mount Sant’Angelo, the Romans cut a path, with pick axes and chisels, through 40 metres of rock, known as the Pisco Montano. Well known for its mild climate and good air, Terracina has fifteen kms of coastline with golden sands, blue sea and entertainment. And for those who prefer the peace and quite of the countryside, you can enjoy the typical Mediterranean vegetation in the hills beyond.
Terracina is the ideal spot to stay for your holiday as you can visit and discover so many places of interest in the Pontine region, such as the enchanting islands of the Archipelago of Ponza, the National Park of Circeo, the Lakes, the Gardens of Ninfa and the numerous country villages in land.
A millenary tradition, which is renewed every year on the 1st of May, and it bounds the pagan cult of Sylvanus ( rural divinity ) together with the S.Silviano veneration. Terracina was an acropolis and Saints Valley when, at the light of sunrise, a crowd of believers, farmers and viticulturists were gathered in Piazza Municipio to honour the Patron Saint with a Solemn Mass celebration. The procession used to start from here going through Corso Anita Garibaldi and along the Appia Antica. Once there, the Statue was brought back to the devoted Church.
"Refreshment areas" were located along the path: coffee, traditional pastries and tarts were offered together with the best local wine.
The procession was characterized by 2 significant events: the Statue was first carried by the locals on their shoulders called the Terracinesi and then It was passed to the farmers. Secondly the Statue was raised 3 times for the fields blessing.
A traditional feast was part of Christian ritual, a moment you couldn't miss, where a typical breakfast was prepared on big tables. "Terracinesi" the locals used to offer bread, home-made cold cults, omelettes, cooked eggs and the Easter typical cake "tortolo". The inhabitants from suburbsareas used to offer goatish and ovine specialities among which the renowned "giuncata" , made up form curdled milk following a specific process lasting a whole night.
Moscato and Cesanese wines were chosen for completing the cake.
The day was entertained by popular dances and folk games such as the "palo della cuccagna" and the "donkey running" where the donkey-winner had to dress with tassels all year long.
Although things had changed though the years, the devotion for the Saint and the colourfully traditions are still alive in the souls of our Community, especially the people from the old generation. They keep this ritual as their constant commitment and passion hoping that the new generation could appreciate and love it.
In this context the Riccardi's family had played an exceptional role: they emigrated from Terracina in the 50s and since then they established the Fiesta di S.Silviano in Solis Grande, Uruguay.
St. Silviano, May 1st
Silviano reached Terracina coast with his family escaping from the Aryans persecutors. Silviano was famous for his miracles and in 443 BC he became Bishop of Terracina. For centuries, people from Gaeta and Terracina struggled to get his mortal remains.
He was tilted as patron of fields and vineyards, probably because of his name assonance with the rural pagan cult of Sylvanus.
St. Damiano, September 26th
The character's events are closely related to St. Valentino 's figure who became Bishop during the time of Costantino the Great ,proving his Christian virtue.
Helping the poorest, he welcomed Damiano who was a poor young guy with a noble soul. Damiano became Deacon Symbol and creator of Christian charity, professing his belief even when the pagan persecutors violently killed him.
St. Epafrodita, March 22nd
St. Epafrodita has an unusual and unpronounceable name, was born in Filippi and he was St. Paolo's disciple in charge for a very important delivery to Rome.
He converted himself to Christianity professing his belief even if he was receiving insults and threats. He was also St. Peter's envoy and the first Bishop of Terracina.
St. Cesario, November 1st
St. Cesario's story tells about a young African guy who died in Terracina after the attempt to subtract a young boy, named Luciano who was offered to pay the pagan cult sacrifice.
Cesario and Luciano were put into a sack and thrown down to the sea from the top part of Monte S'Antangelo.
During the first part of Medieval centuries, St.Cesario had been a celebrity as his name evoked the Roman Imperators appellative Cesare.