FARNESE and its History
FARNESE AND ITS HISTORY
The historic core of Farnese, inhabited since the XIth century b.c., has maintained the characteristics of a fortified village in the hills. The name Farnese comes from a species of oak, the farnia, especially widespread in the area.
The name Farnese was then given to the local feudal lords, regarding whom the first secure historical mention dates to 981. Over time, the Farnese became one of the most prestigious noble families: in 1534 Cardinal Alexander Farnese was elected Pope under the name of Paul III; he founded the duchy of Castro, a former Etruscan city 6 kilometres from Farnese, for his son Pierluigi.
Castro reached the same level of splendour in the first decades of the 16th century. The architects da Sangallo and Vignola were commissioned to give the small village the dignity of a capital, and so a ducal palace and a mint were built. The rivalry between the Farnese and Pope Innocent X of the Pamphili family led to the end of the duchy in 1649, when the papal troops besieged and destroyed it with such determination that not a single reminder of the ducal capital was left: "Here was Castro" was sculpted on a pillar of stone installed following the demolition.
Today the ruins of Castro are found in the midst of a thickly grown forest. Silence and neglect cloak the site: in the midst of the trees, the remains of examples of medieval and renaissance architecture are visible, as well as streets and squares virtually swallowed up by the underbrush.
The scene that awaits visitors is absolutely enchanting: a small, lost city that appears to be part of an exotic, remote world. Together with the ruins of the Argentine city of St. Ignatius, Castro is the world's only western archaeological site of the 1600's.