Landscapes and Urban Architecture of Montefortino (Present-Day Artena))

The birth, destruction and transformation of a medieval city.

Volume curated by Massimiliano Valenti


The picturesque historical centre of Artena (previously known as Montefortino until 1873) with its narrow, winding lanes is celebrated in the media for its medieval atmosphere. But what is the real evidence (historical, archaeological and architectural) of this important past, ‘cancelled’ – according to Renaissance sources – as a result of the destruction of 1557 ordered by Pope Paul IV Carafa? And what are the reasons for the creation of this village? And when do the first records of this primordial medieval occupation of the site date back to?

An attempt was made to answer this and many other questions in a critical and up-to-date manner with the implementation of the project ‘Paesaggi e architetture urbane di Montefortino. Nascita, trasformazione e distruzione di una città medioevale’ (The landscapes and urban architecture of Montefortino. The birth, transformation and destruction of a medieval town), which was divided into two separate initiatives. One was a scientific conference, held in the prestigious Sala Prosperi of the Granaio Borghese with the participation of Vittorio Aimati, one of the most prolific authors of local history, who for years has been delving into and disseminating the topics of the history, both ancient and modern, of Artena; Dr. Martina Baglini, an archaeologist specialising in the Middle Ages who has focused her studies on Artena, which culminated in her degree and specialisation thesis; and Eng. Matteo Riccelli, who has focused his interests, which also became the subject of a degree thesis, on the spectacular project for the central area of Montefortino, today’s Piazza della Vittoria, documenting for the first time the complex layout of structures built under the probable supervision of the architect Vasanzio with financing from Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The other was a documentary exhibition curated by Matteo Riccelli set up in the halls of the Archaeological Museum, in which the issues touched upon in the lectures were illustrated with photos, reconstructive axonometries and previously unpublished documentation. A complex and ambitious project made possible thanks to the joint collaboration of the administrative offices of the Municipality of Artena, the Museumgrandtour – The Museum System of the Castelli Romani and Prenestini, the XI Comunità Montana of the Castelli Romani and Prenestini, and the invaluable organisational support of the Artena Archaeological Group.

Prof. Massimiliano Valenti

Scientific Director of the ‘R. Lambrechts’ Archaeological Museum in Artena