Caetani Castle in Sermoneta

Caetani Castle is located in the medieval village of Sermoneta in Lazio, the impressive structure dates back to the thirteenth century. It is certainly a very attractive tourist destination, for its architectural beauty and its history.

Background of Caetani Castle.

Caetani Castle was built by Annibaldi family in the early 1200.

Its structure consists of a 42 meters high fortified tower and a counter-tower.

This castle was built more like a military fortress than as a residence for the noble family, it had in fact external walls thicker than 3 meters and it was also fortified by walls that enclosed the structure. The fortress was the center of city life.

In 1297 Sermoneta (and other possessions) were ceded by the family Annibaldi to the nephew of Pope Boniface VIII, Pietro Caetani.

The Caetani family made the castle an impressive military fortress.

Sermoneta_castleIn fact they added 5 circles of walls equipped with a system of drawbridges. Which in case of enemy attack ensured the possibility to isolate the tower. In the mid-sixteenth century, thanks to Onorato III Caetani, Sermoneta had its moment of maximum magnificence.

The period of great power of the Caetani family ended with the rise of the Borgias.

When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia was elected pope with the name of Alessandro VI, he immediately excommunicated the Caetanis and in 1500 he confiscated all their feuds. Which were later entrusted to the sons of the pope: Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia.

Alessandro VI finished the works of  fortification of the castle, and erected the “House of the Cardinal” and the Citadel.

Caetani Castle in the years hosted among the most important historical figures.

  • Frederick II
  • Charles V
  • Lucrezia Borgia lived there for long
  • Popes Gregory XIII and Sixtus V and many more.

It’s possible to find out which important figures visited the castle thanks to a room that housed the inscriptions that today we can see preserved on a wall.

The castle was attacked several times over the centuries, finally it came back into the hands of Caetanis, since 1977 it belongs to the Foundation Roffredo Caetani that was just created by the last descendant of the Caetani family, Lelia Caetani.

Curiosity of Caetani Castle.


In the stables of the castle there were filmed some scenes from the movie Non ci resta che piangere by Roberto Benigni and Massimo Troisi.

In the hall of the cardinal there is the Madonna con il Bambino and the sanct Pietro, Stefano e Giovannino (1541) by Girolamo Siciolante, called the Sermoneta.

Furthermore there is a legend about the spirit of a child who should haunt the castle and is said to have died violently in the basement.

It is thought to be a prince who is portrayed in a picture of the room of the Cardinal, however his identity is unknown.


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