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General InformationTeacher BiographyA Typical DayAbout VelletriExcursions

Learn Italian in Velletri

  • Velletri by night.Introductory
  • Ancient History
  • Velletri in World War II
  • Velletri on the Map
  • A Walk Around Town
  • The Grape and Wine Festival
  • The Velletri Museum
  • Links
  • Coat of arms of Comune di Velletri.


    Velletri is nestled in the Alban Hills south of Rome, halfway along the route to the seaside towns of Anzio and Nettuno. The current population of Velletri is about 50,000. Throughout history, Velletri has been the vineyard of Rome, producing excellent white wines in particular. In the hills near Velletri, many Romans retire to their country villas during the hot summers. It is in just such a lovely villa that La Scuola Appia Vecchia welcomes its students and visitors. While close to Rome, the pace of life in Velletri is remarkably relaxed and friendly. Reminders of the city's long history abound, yet all modern conveniences are available. The Velletri area is most conducive to quiet concentration and learning.

    An Ancient History

    Outside the Porta Napoletana of Velletri. From left, Professoressa Francesca Valentini, her husband Joe Cerullo, and student Susan Smith.Velletri has been continuously inhabited since prehistoric times. Scholars debate whether the settlement was established by Etruscans, Latins, or Volscans. In any case, Ancus Marcius, fourth king of Rome (640-616 BCE) conquered the town, which he named Velitrae. Velitrae was reconquered at least twice more, in 494 BCE and 338 BCE. The great emperor Octavian, heir to Julius Caesar, is thought to have been born in Velitrae. During the Roman Empire, Velitrae was a flourishing municipum with several temples and an amphitheater. The city was a popular spot for country homes of Roman patricians.

    Medieval copper plate print of Velletri, 1580.The fall of Rome to Alaric in 410 CE began a period of decline. Velletri was a bishopric during the time of Byzantine rule in the 6th Century. In the Middle Ages, Velletri was an independent comune and battled with neighboring barons in the region of Lazio and with the adjacent comune of Rome. Ultimately, Velletri became part of the Papal States. By virtue of its strategic position astride the main commercial highway between Naples and Rome, the Velletri gates became an important tax collection center. In 1774, Velletri was scene of a major battle between the Spanish Bourbons and the Austrian Habsburgs. For several years in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, Velletri was a free-standing republic. At last, later in the 19th Century, Velletri took its place in a reunified Italy.

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    World War II and the Battle of Velletri

    Situation map used by the United States Army's famous 36th "Texas" Division for its ground assault of the German positions in Velletri. The citizens of Velletri suffered tremendously during World War II as part of the breakout from the Anzio beachhead toward Rome. The U.S. 36th Infantry Division liberated Velletri in June, 1944. Following the surrender of Italy to the Allies, the Germans became, in effect, occupiers of the Italian peninsula. There were numerous instances of hostage-taking, deportation, and execution of Velletrians by their Nazi "guests." On the other side of the vise holding the town, the Allies found it necessary to conduct a prolonged aerial bombardment of the German garrison and defenses around Velletri. Significant damage and loss of life were an inevitable result. The climax of the battle was a ground assault by the famed 36th "Texas" division of the United States Army. The town finally fell on June 2, 1944, and the way to Rome lay open. The liberation of Rome, while hard-won and important, was overshadowed in the contemporary imagination by the larger D-Day invasion of France in the same week.

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    Velletri On the Map

    Velletri is located just south of Rome on the way to Anzio and Nettuno. Map of Italy with location of Velletri Map of regional highways around Velletri. Map of Lazio showing location of VelletriMap of Lazio showing location of Velletri

    Click on maps to view in larger window.

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    A Walk Around Town

    A typical street scene in Velletri


    A stroll through Velletri is a pleasant afternoon excursion for students of La Scuola Appia Vecchia. Among the municipal and religious landmarks of Velletri, the most interesting are:

    Palazzo Comunale, the town hall of Velletri


    Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) - Begun in 1572 and completed in 1741. Destroyed during World War II, the Palazzo Comunale was rebuilt in the 1950's. The Comunale Museum, located within the palazzo, contains many items of archaelogical interest.


    Campanile of Santa Maria in Trivio, Velletri.

    Santa Maria in Trivio - Erected in1353 as thanks for deliverance from the Great Plague pandemic. The campanile is in the Lombard-Gothic style.Detail view of the campanile of Santa Maria in Trivio.

    Cathedral of St. Clement, Velletri


    Cathedral of San Clemente - The first church on this site was built in the 4th Century atop the ruins of an older temple. The current cathedral dates from the 1660's. The Diocesan Museum is contained in the complex of buildings near the cathedral.



    Other important places of worship in Velletri include the 14th Century Church of S. Antonio Abate, the Tempietto Bramantesco (1523), and the 16th Century Oratory of Santa Maria del Sangue.

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    The Grape and Wine Festival

    The Grape and Wine Festival in Velletri.Velletri decorated for the festival.Close-up of entertainer at the Grape and Wine Festival.

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    The Velletri Museum

    Professoressa Valentini pointing out her family name carved on an ancient Roman tablet.


    Velletri boasts a civic museum largely devoted to its rich anthropological history. There are multiple artifacts of Etruscan and Roman origins, including pottery, religious objects, weapons, and everyday implements. Scale models of typical Etruscan and Roman dwellings provide a glimpse into the ancient past.


    Intricately carved Roman sarcophagus in virtually pristine condition, Velletri Museum.


    The museum collection contains one of the finest examples of Roman funerary art, an exquisitely carved sarcophagus.



    A visit to the Velletri Museum is one of the many excursions available to students of La Scuola Appia Vecchia.

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    Italian Language School:

    Rome Guide Velletri page:

    Comune di Velletri website (in Italian):
    In the top navigation area, link to
    "Museo civico" and "Storia della Città"

    Diocesan Museum Velletri:

    Wines of Velletri:

    36th Infantry Division and the Battle of Velletri:

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