Sermoneta is a hill town and in the province of Latina in central Italy. Sermoneta’s fortune dates back to the end of the 13th century when the Caetani family took up residence there, with said family’s leading members including a pope, Pope Boniface VIII. A large and impressive castle was built immediately which also served to protect its inhabitants and was the main centre of a large-size feud.
The Caetani Castle in Sermoneta medieval village. Province of Latina, Central Italy

Castello Caetani is undoubtedly the symbol of Sermoneta and its main tourist attraction. It experienced its period of greatest fame and glory during the 1400s with the addition of noteworthy architectural and artistic features including frescoes which went to adorn the various rooms inside the castle. The castle underwent further modification when the Caetani family fell into disgrace and were replaced by the Borgias. Under Pope Alexander VI and his daughter Lucrezia, Antonio da Sangallo was commissioned to carry out the restoration work which transformed the building into a military stronghold, equipped to withstand firearms.

The Caetani were reinstated in Sermoneta in 1503 and added further fortification to the castle, which gave it its present-day form, but Sermoneta’s strategic importance on the road to Rome was lost, and the last illustrious guest was Emperor Charles V, who stayed here in 1536. In 1499 Pope Alexander VI (Borgia) excommunicated the Caetani family, confiscating all their feuds which the family only regained possession of with great difficulty some years later. After a long period of abandonment, the castle was taken over once more by the Caetani family in the past century, restored and brought back to its past splendour thanks above all to works to consolidate the fifteenth-century frescoes by the school of Pinturicchio.

The castle was plundered by the French in the late eighteenth century, used as a granary in the following century, with terrible damage to the frescoes, then restored at the beginning of the twentieth century by Gelasio Caetani, the romantic philanthropist of the Giardino di Ninfa, and restored again after the Second World War.

The Caetani Castle in Sermoneta medieval village. Province of Latina, Central Italy

Still imposing and practically intact today, the fifteenth century frescoes are partially preserved in the “painted chambers” – this first with rural scenes, Pan and nymphs in luxuriant countryside, the second depicting virtue, with historic figures and philosophers.  Perfectly integrated with the small town of Sermoneta, which has shared its adventures over the centuries, the castle is now in the hands of the Fondazione Roffredo Caetani, and throughout the year is a venue for major events, concerts, conferences, courses in architecture, town planning and music; and in summer it hosts the Festival pontino, now in its 50th edition. The characteristic and unmistakeable appearance of a medieval town, with its side streets, alleyways and squares all inside the town walls, lend Sermoneta an ancient flavour and appeal which invite tourists to discover it in all its unique and unrepeatable charm.