The Castle of Itri

he Castle of Itri is a mediaeval fortress, a typical defensive structure intended for territorial control.

It was built on the site of an earlier fortification.

The Castle was built for defensive purposes in several stages, starting in 882 when the pentagonal tower was constructed – commissioned by Docibile I, Byzantine hypate of the Duchy of Gaeta – to watch out for the Saracens and other Arab populations that threatened the coasts at that time. In 950 Marino I, nephew of Docibile, further strengthened the site by having a second, taller, and a more imposing tower erected, the square one called ‘maschio’.

Luigi Carafa della Stadera, IV Prince of Stigliano

The fortress was part of the Duchy of Gaeta until 1072 and then, thus constituted, passed around 1140 to the Dell’Aquila family, lords of the county of Fondi. From 1234 to 1503, for almost three centuries, it belonged to the Caetani family.



A third, circular tower was erected to coincide with this passage, guarding the Appian Way, then the only land route.

mappa via appia antico percorso

The fortification was used to defend Itri from attacks from the hinterland and a patrol walkway was built connecting the towers, allowing the control of enemy attacks and timely communication with the Castle of Gaeta by issuing an immediate alert. The sighting system is still clearly visible, which, through the Campoli turret, allowed the exchange of signals.

Finally, the two-storey rectangular living quarters, each divided into three rooms, were built at the centre of the tower system.

The structure of the castle was thus outlined, with an imposing main body, and a 35-metre high façade flanked by two towers. On the right is the square tower, on the left the pentagonal one protected by a stronghold surrounding its base, which has four turrets – three round and one semicircular – with projecting swallow-tailed merlons. The three minor cylindrical towers are located at a lower level and enclose a small but striking parade ground, a cavea, which was also used as a place of refreshment for horses, servants, and gendarmes. A wall with a 30-metre-long patrol walkway joins the residential part to the circular tower, also known as the “crocodile tower” because of a popular legend about prisoners condemned to death and fed to a crocodile that lived there.

In 1591 the whole county of Fondi, to which Itri belonged, passed to the princes of Stigliano and, with it, the castle.

Francesco Saverio Ialongo

Francesco Saverio Ialongo

From 1800, the castle was owned by the Jallonghi family and the last heir, Dr. Francesco Saverio Lalongo, sold it to the Province of Latina in 1979 for a symbolic price. The damage caused by heavy bombing during the Second World War was repaired and the property was transferred free of charge to the Municipality of Itri.

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