Albano Laziale

In the very heart of the Alban Hills, that were forged in the Quaternary period by volcanic activity, in the place where the mythical Albalonga, the parent city of Rome, once stood, the modern town of Albano now spreads gently over the hillside by the Albano Lake. The territory was once frequented, in palaeolithic times, by prehistoric man, and recently there have come to light the remains of a palafitte village dating to the 17th century B.C., that had been built on the shores of the Albano Lake and subsequently submerged. Towards the end of the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age the first settlements of huts began to be built in the areas now known as Paluzzi, Cappuccini and Tofetti. These last two areas, situated along the ridge of the Albano Lake crater, probably formed the main nucleus of Albalonga (11th 7th cent. B.C.) Traces of burial grounds dating to the same period as these settlements have been discovered in some parts of the area now occupied by the modern town: Via Virgilio, via s. Francesco, Crocefisso and Valle Pozzo. After the destruction of Albalonga the area was considered sacred ground and set aside for cult purposes. Recent archaeological finds from digs in the town area, especially in Via S. Ambrogio and the Villa Doria park, can be related to sanctuaries of the early republican period (5th-2nd cent. B.C) In both republican and imperial times, a number of famous Romans began to build country houses and in the Alban Hills, especially in what is now the Albano town area. Some of these were buildings of great luxury, such as the imperial villa that formerly belonged to Pompey the Great and the Roman villa that has been discovered in Via Verdi, in the locality called Cavallacci.
On account of the find of a marble head portraying Tiberius Gemellus and the large amount of fine-quality marble that has also come to light, it is thought that this villa belonged to a member of the imperial family. The extensive remains of the imperial villa that once belonged to Pompey can be seen in the Villa Doria public park. Anyone wishing to visit the cistern of the villa, which has been turned into a small antiquarium, and the cryptoporticus should enquire at the Museum. Along the route of the ancient Via Appia there are situated a great many monumental tombs, of which the best known and most remarkable is the one that is commonly known as the tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii. This unique structure has been dated to the second half of the 1st cent. B.C. An important factor in the development of Albano was the decision made by the emperor Septimius Severus in 192 A.D. to quarter the troops of the Second Parthian Legion here. This led to the construction of the CASTRA ALBANA which provided accommodation for some 6000 legionaries. The monumental ruins of the camp can still be seen in various parts of the town. In addition to the epigraphical evidence and the funerary inscriptions engraved on the typical casket-shaped sarcophagus lids, the surviving structures include large portions of the circuit walls with their towers, some stretches of road paving, the imposing ruins of some buildings and two city gates The PORTA PRAETORIA, the main entrance to the Castra from the Via Appia, was built in opus quadratum with large blocks of peperino. lt had three archways and was protected by a rectangular tower or abutment on either side