Benvenuti / Welcome to

Itri


Atina and the Val di Comino

San Donato VC




The attractive medieval town of San Donato Val di Comino is located at 728 metres above sea level, on the slopes of Monte Pizzuto, on the edge of the Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo.    

The area is known to have been occupied by the Samnite people in a settlement known as Cominium.  This was destroyed by the Romans in 293 BC.  In 568 the Val di Comino was invaded by the Longobards.   


During the XVII and XVIII centuries San Donato underwent considerable economic and urban development. Palaces were enlarged, squares built and churches renovated.  In 1720 the Counts of Aquino once again took possession.  

In 1806, the Val di Comino was invaded by French Napoleonic troops, which eventually lead to the subsequent abolition of feudalism.  There followed yet another unsettled period when notorious brigands and bands of robbers ran riot and plagued this area.  With the Unification of Italy, the current name of “San Donato Val di Comino” was granted by permission of King Vittorio Emanuele II, on the 14th December 1862.

The town takes its name from the shrine of San Donato, a place of sacred pilgrimage. It was first documented in 778 when the Duke of Spoleto donated the shrine to the monastery of San Vincenzo al Volturno.  Two centuries later it was donated to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino.

In 915, during the time of the Battle of Garigliano and Saracen attacks, many people living along the Tyrrhenian coastline fled inland.  Many people from the town of Itri sought refuge in the San Donato area and thus the first urban centre was created surrounded by protective walls.

In 1150 the Normans conquered the whole of the Val di Comino and passed it to the  Counts  of  Aquino,  who  took  possession  in  1270.   They  built  a formidable  fortress  in the  area of  the  Sanctuary,  with  high walls, towers and secure gateways  and the community was named "Castrum Sancti Donati":  The town prospered and in 1349 San Donato was declared a Baronry.  

However, from the 15th century there followed a period of considerable instability, as the territory was disputed by the feudal lords of  Cantelmo, Navarro, Cardona and Borgia.  



A report describes the inhabitants of San Donato as “industrious hard workers producing fine woollen cloth which attracted merchants from Florence Umbria and Tuscany” and the local economy prospered.  Indeed, over the centuries this land was traversed by many a trader, mule train, soldier, monk, pilgrim, traveller and bandit .

In 1595 the territory passed into the hands of the Gallio family and remained so for some 200 years.

In 1669, due to a terrible plague, the population that totalled 2344 was reduced to just 640 people.

During the XVII and XVIII centuries San Donato underwent considerable economic and urban development. Palaces were enlarged, squares built and churches renovated.  In 1720 the Counts of Aquino once again took possession.


photo by Samuele Tocci    CC BY-SA 3.0

There followed yet another unsettled period when notorious brigands and bands of robbers ran riot and plagued this area.

With the Unification of Italy, the current name of “San Donato Val di Comino” was granted by permission of King Vittorio Emanuele II, on the 14th December 1862.

The town is divided into several “rione” or districts, namely: Castello, Duomo, Capolavalle, Lago, Portella, Convento, Cappella Lucida and  San Paolo.

At the highest point of the town stands the 13th century square tower that guards the Sanctuary of San Donato. It was strategically positioned with commanding views of the Val di Comino and the mountain pass of  Forca d'Acero.  The castle is encircled by fortified walls and towers, with houses incorporated into the structure.

photo by Samuele Tocci    CC BY-SA 3.0

Three gates lead into the ancient town:  the 13th century Porta dell’Orologio (the main entrance) the 14th century Arco di San Donato and the Porta del Colle.  


It is necessary to explore this old area of the town on foot, as there are steep narrow cobbled lanes which connect to alleyways, arches, and covered passageways. The twists and turns were constructed as an additional defence mechanism to offer  protection from any invaders, as well as the glacial mountain winds.  Over the centuries San Donato’s prosperous nobleman built elegant residences and many of these houses and courtyards of bygone ages are still in evidence today.  As the village expanded over the centuries it extended, in tiers, down towards the valley, where a new quarter of merchants and rich bourgeois was established.

Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near The Beautiful Coastline of Sperlonga

Our Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Video  |  Our Tre Cancelle Blog

More Holiday Villas and Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri

Website, text, photos  

© LM  Shapcott 2009 - 2016 All rights Reserved

Except where photos have been rightfully accredited to the photographer / owner

Thanks to ciociara.foto.com for permission to use their photos.

Photos marked are in the Public Domain

Last Update May 2016


Back to Atina & The Val Di Comino Contents  |  South Lazio Contents   |   Contact Us



Next - San Donato  (page 2)


pages 1 2 3