San Felice Circeo: the history

Possibility inhabited as early as the 1st century bc and then occupied by the Volsci, San Felice Circeo became a Roman colony in 393 bc following the construction of a port-canal by the Emperor Nero.
Devastated by the Visigoths, the city was subsequently conquered by Totila, the King of the Ostrogoths, only to be destroyed by the Saracens.
The castle was built in 1118 by the Terracinesi family and occupied by the Frangipane family until 1203 when Pope Innocence III ordered that it should be consigned to Pietro Annibaldo.
Having returned to the estate of the Terracinesi family, in 1250 the castle was ceded to the Knights Templar before being sold to the Pironti family (the lords of Terracina), the Annibaldeschi family and finally, in 1301, to Pietro Castani, the grandson of Pope Boniface Viii, in whose family it remained, with the exception of a few brief interruptions, for approximately four centuries.
In 1441 the village of San Felice Circeo was destroyed by Alfonso of Aragon and the inhabitants were forced to seek shelter in Terracina until the estate was given back to the Castani family by Pope Pius II.
Subsequently re-acquired by Pope Alexander VI for his daughter Lucrezia Borgia, in 1500 the city was devastated by the army of King Frederick of Naples.
Passing into the hands of the Ruspoli and Orsini families, the city was then sold to the Apostolic Camera which was soon forced to sell the estate to Prince Stanislao Poniatowski for 86 thousand scudi in order to meet the expense of supporting the French army.
Prince Poniatowski was nevertheless obliged to return the city to the Apostolic Camera in 1822.
San Felice Circeo is one of the smartest seaside resorts in Lazio.
In addition to a collection of elegant boutiques, top class restaurants and delightful hotels, the town also offers spectacular views over the Pontine plain towards Latina, over Terracina, over Ponza and as far as the Lepini and Musoni mountains.
The National Park of Circeo encloses over 10 kilometres a sandy dunes.

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