Itri is a small city and comune
In Italy, the comune is the basic administrative division, and may be properly approximated in casual speech by the English word township or municipality.-Importance and function:...

in the central Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 region of Latium
Lazio is one of the 20 administrative regions of Italy, situated in the central peninsular section of the country. With about 5.7 million residents and a GDP of more than 170 billion euros, Lazio is the third most populated and the second richest region of Italy...

 and the Province of Latina
Province of Latina
The Province of Latina is a province in the Lazio region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Latina.It has an area of 2,251 km², and a total population of 519,850...


Itri is an agricultural centre divided in two parts by a small river, the Pontone. It lies in a valley between the Monti Aurunci and the sea, not far from the Gulf of Gaeta
Gulf of Gaeta
The Gulf of Gaeta is a body of water on the west coast of Italy and part of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is bounded by Cape Circeo in the north, Ischia and the Gulf of Naples in the south, and the Pontine Islands in the west....

. The more ancient part, with the Castle, was partly destroyed during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


The Itrani speak a particular variant of the Neapolitan dialect, the Itrano.


The first direct documentary record of Itri dates to 914, but settlements in the neighbourhood existed from prehistoric times, as proved by findings from the Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 and the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...


According to legend, Itri's origins appear to coincide with the destruction of Amyclae, a maritime city founded by the twin sons of Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, Castor
Castor derives from the , meaning "beaver", or "he who excels". It originally referred to Castor, one of the Dioscuri/Gemini twins of Graeco-Roman mythology.Castor or CASTOR may also refer to:-Science and technology:...

 and Pollux
Pollux may refer to:Astronomy*Pollux , *Pollux, a crater on the Saturnian moon EpimetheusFictional characters*Pollux Black, a pureblood wizard, grandfather of Sirius Black in the Harry Potter universeGames...

, whose Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

n followers clashed with Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

. It certainly originated from a Greek colony, which likely came from the coast at about 20 km north of Fondi
Fondi is a city and comune in the province of Latina, Lazio, central Italy, halfway between Rome and Naples. Before the construction of the highway between the latter cities in the late 1950s, Fondi had been an important settlement on the Roman Via Appia, which was the main connection from Rome to...

. Amyclae was founded between Lake Fondi and the Terracina
Terracina is a town and comune of the province of Latina - , Italy, 76 km SE of Rome by rail .-Ancient times:...

 coast, on the limits of murky waters of the swamps present at the time. The quiet Amyclaeans were struck by the cursed and numerous forces of the swamp, unstoppable beings such as the monstrous serpent with nine heads, the Lernaean Hydra
Lernaean Hydra
In Greek mythology, the Lernaean Hydra was an ancient nameless serpent-like chthonic water beast, with reptilian traits, that possessed many heads — the poets mention more heads than the vase-painters could paint, and for each head cut off it grew two more — and poisonous breath so virulent even...

, which attacked from the swamps with poisonous venom, and whose heads would re-grow as quickly as Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...

 could slice them off with his sword. The city of Amyclae was soon annihilated. The few survivors abandoned the city and relocated a few kilometers south to the area now known as Itri. These first inhabitants of Itri adopted the emblems of the "Signum Salutis", a serpent, as their symbol of power, and "Amycleus", the dog's head, as their symbol of fidelity. Itri in fact was most likely a town of the Aurunci
The Aurunci were an Italic population which lived in southern Italy from around the 1st millennium BC. Of Indo-European origin, their language belonged to the Oscan group...

, later conquered and assimiliated by the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....


The name Itri derives from the Latin word iter, meaning "route" or "way", appropriate since the city lies where the old Roman Via Appia, built in 312 BC, crosses the Monti Aurunci by way of a narrow pass, the Gola di Sant'Andrea, called by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 a "noble mountain pass". An alternative hypothesis on the origin of the town's name suggest it derived from the cult of the Eastern God Mithra
Mithra is the Zoroastrian divinity of covenant and oath. In addition to being the divinity of contracts, Mithra is also a judicial figure, an all-seeing protector of Truth, and the guardian of cattle, the harvest and of The Waters....

, as there is a large subterranean temple dedicated to him a few hundred meters south of the town. Still another suggestion is that it derives from the Greek for snake "hydra", pronounced in some dialects as "itra". In Roman times Itri would have been no more than a post station, a role it continued in until well into the nineteenth century; in Bourbon
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...

 times Itri was the 12th of 18 posting stations going south from Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 to Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...


In the Middle Ages the population grew, and three lines of walls were built to protect the people living around the castle. Itri was part of the duchy of Gaeta
Duchy of Gaeta
The Duchy of Gaeta was an early medieval state centred on the coastal South Italian city of Gaeta. It began in the early ninth century as the local community began to grow autonomous as Byzantine power lagged in the Mediterranean and the peninsula thanks to Lombard and Saracen incursions.Our...

 and was a possession of the Dell'Aquila family, dukes of Fondi
Fondi is a city and comune in the province of Latina, Lazio, central Italy, halfway between Rome and Naples. Before the construction of the highway between the latter cities in the late 1950s, Fondi had been an important settlement on the Roman Via Appia, which was the main connection from Rome to...

. In modern times Itri was part of the Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...


Due to its location on the Gola di Sant'Andrea, Itri has historically been the scene of much military activity and a number of important battles. Perhaps the most famous occurred in 1503 when Consalvo of Cordova defeated the French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 army under the command of the Duke of Nemours
Duke of Nemours
In the 12th and 13th centuries the Lordship of Nemours, in the Gatinais, France, was in possession of the house of Villebeon, a member of which, Gautier, was marshal of France in the middle of the 13th century...

, an action known as the Battle of the Garigliano.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Allied bombing destroyed 75% of the city edifices.

Main sights

  • The Castle, which commands all the neighbouring valley. It has a square tower merlon
    In architecture, a merlon forms the solid part of an embattled parapet, sometimes pierced by embrasures. The space between two merlons is usually called a crenel, although those later designed and used for cannons were called embrasures.-Etymology:...

    ed wall, attributed to Duke Docibilis I of Gaeta (882), to which his grandson Marinus II
    Marinus II of Gaeta
    Marinus II was the son of Docibilis II of Gaeta and Orania of Naples. He was made dux of Fondi by his father and his elder brother John II recognised this title. After his brother Gregory, who succeeded John, died, Marinus succeeded to the duchy of Gaeta and gave Fondi to his son Marinus...

     added a polygonal tower. A third tower, nicknamed del Coccodrillo ("Crocodile") is site in a lower position, directly over Via Appia. A third line of wall is from the mid-13th century.
  • The church of San Michele Arcangelo (11th century), in Arabic-Norman style
    Arab-Norman culture
    The term Norman-Arab-Byzantine culture, Norman-Sicilian culture or, less inclusive, Arab-Norman culture respectively Norman-Arab culture, refers to the interaction of the Norman, Arab and Byzantine culture following the Norman conquest of Sicily from 1061, to around 1250...

  • The 12th century bell tower of the destroyed church of St. Maria Maggiore, with Byzantine art
    Byzantine art
    Byzantine art is the term commonly used to describe the artistic products of the Byzantine Empire from about the 5th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453....

    -style decorations.
  • The Sanctuary of the Madonna della Civita is located 3 km from the city on a mountain once devoted to the Roman God Mercury
    Mercury (mythology)
    Mercury was a messenger who wore winged sandals, and a god of trade, the son of Maia Maiestas and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is related to the Latin word merx , mercari , and merces...

     with a splendid panorama. It houses a holy image of the Virgin, which, according to the legend, was painted by St. Luke. It was crowned here by Pope Pius VII
    Pope Pius VII
    Pope Pius VII , born Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti, was a monk, theologian and bishop, who reigned as Pope from 14 March 1800 to 20 August 1823.-Early life:...

    , and again by Pius IX
    Pope Pius IX
    Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

     in 1877. King Ferdinand II of Naples
    Ferdinand II of Naples
    Ferdinand II or Ferrante II of Naples , sometimes known as Ferrandino, was King of Naples from 1495 to 1496...

     visited the place in 1849.
  • The Fortress of Sant'Andrea was built in the first century A.C. on the remains of an ancient Roman villa, located along the Old Via Appia in the direction of Fondi
    Fondi is a city and comune in the province of Latina, Lazio, central Italy, halfway between Rome and Naples. Before the construction of the highway between the latter cities in the late 1950s, Fondi had been an important settlement on the Roman Via Appia, which was the main connection from Rome to...

    . This fortress was used by Fra Diavolo
    Fra Diavolo
    Fra Diavolo , is the popular name given to Michele Pezza, a famous Neapolitan guerrilla leader who resisted the French occupation of Naples, proving an “inspirational practicioner of popular insurrection”. Pezza figures prominently in folk lore and fiction...

     during the defensive operations against the French in 1798.
  • The Church of Santa Maria di Loreto is located on a hill northeast from the center of the town. It is connected to the convent of the Cappuccini order. The painting of the Madonna of Loreto, created by 18th century Neapolitan artist Sarnelli, hangs above the church's altar.

Patron saint

The Madonna della Civita is the patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

 of the town; her feast is celebrated on July 21.

Popular tradition narrates that the sacred painting representing the image of the Madonna was found in the 8th century by a deaf and mute shepherd, who was looking for a missing cow on Mount Civita. Upon discovering the painting, the mute shepherd fell to his knees, prayed, and miraculously was able to hear and speak for the first time in his life. He went back to the town to share his discovery with the Itrani, who were shocked and amazed to witness that the shepherd could now hear and speak.

The origin of the painting appears to be dated back to the 8th century, when the Byzantine Emperor Leo III ordered religious persecutions and banned the cult of sacred images.


  • On March 19 of each year, the people of Itri celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph (Festa di San Giuseppe), patron of the carpenters. The festivity is tied to a secular tradition, and on that night very large bonfires are ignited, around which people dance around, sing and prepare the traditional “zeppole di San Giuseppe”, a traditional fried dough made with sugar, eggs and coated with honey.

  • The day of Corpus Domini (60 days after Easter), Itri celebrates L'Infiorata. An entire main street of the town, the via della Repubblica, is covered with a variety of different colored flower petals, used to reproduce sacred images and images of the town itself, such as the castle and its churches. At the end of the day, the religious procession passes over the floral masterpieces.

  • The Feast of the Madonna della Civita is Itri's main attraction, celebrated typically on three consecutive days, July 20, 21 and 22. This is often an occasion for Itri's emigrants to return to their hometown. The 3-day feast is celebrated with religious processions, people walking up and down via Civita Farnese among amusement rides and hundreds of stands selling just about anything. Each night culminates with the performance of singers (with the most famous one performing on the last night of the celebrations) and spectacular fireworks.

  • On the first Sunday of August, Itri celebrates the most important product of its economy, the olive. The feast known as the Sagra dell'Ulivo is celebrated with oil (on bruschetta) and olive tastings. Folkloristic groups also sing and dance in the main piazza. Itri exports much of its olive oil and olives, under the denomination of "Gaeta Olives". The product adopted the name of the more known nearby city because they were shipped from the seaport of Gaeta.

  • Among the traditional dishes prepared in Itri are the Pasta e Fagioli (pasta with beans), Polenta with Sausage Ragu, Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms, Linguine with Asparagus, grilled, roasted or sauteed wild game (such as wild boar, jackrabbit, pheasant, quails, and other local wild birds), and the delicious Marzolino cheese (a sheep's-milk cheese) made locally. Many of the dishes prepared with porcini, asparagus, truffles and wild game come from the remote woods of Itri's own Campello location.

Cultural references

  • The movie Two Women
    Two Women
    Two Women is a 1960 Italian film directed by Vittorio De Sica. It tells the story of a woman trying to protect her young daughter from the horrors of war. The film stars Sophia Loren, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Eleonora Brown, Carlo Ninchi and Andrea Checchi...

    ("La Ciociara") with Sofia Loren was filmed in Itri.
  • The legendary Itrano combatant Michele Pezza was the inspiration for Daniel Auber
    Daniel Auber
    Daniel François Esprit Auber was a French composer.-Biography:The son of a Paris print-seller, Auber was born in Caen in Normandy. Though his father expected him to continue in the print-selling business, he also allowed his son to learn how to play several musical instruments...

    's 3-act opera Fra Diavolo
    Fra Diavolo (opera)
    Fra Diavolo, ou L'hôtellerie de Terracine is an opéra comique in three acts by the French composer Daniel Auber, from a libretto by Auber's regular collaborator Eugène Scribe...

    , and the 1933 Laurel and Hardy
    Laurel and Hardy
    Laurel and Hardy were one of the most popular and critically acclaimed comedy double acts of the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema...

     film, The Devil's Brother
    The Devil's Brother
    The Devil's Brother or Bogus Bandits or Fra Diavolo is a 1933 comedy film starring Laurel and Hardy. It is based on Daniel Auber's operetta Fra Diavolo about the Italian bandit Fra Diavolo.-Plot:...


External links

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