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Sermoneta is a picturesque medieval town set high on the edge of the Monti Lepini. The surrounding hillsides are covered in olive groves, chestnut and beech trees.
The Pontine Marshes were an unhealthy place to live and work, and during the 9th century this area was subjected to repeated raids by Saracen invaders. As a consequence people began to move inland to safer territory. Thus in the 1200’s a fortress was founded at Sermoneta by the Annibaldi family, which had dominating views of the marshes which stretched to the coast.
In 1297 the Caetani family acquired the castle together with the Ninfa estate. The Caetani’s set about enlarging and modifying the castle and making it into a noble residence with a Great Hall.
In 1499, the Borgia Pope Alessandro VI, excommunicated the Caetani family and seized their estates. The castle of Sermoneta was then passed to his nephew Rodrigo, the son of the infamous Lucrezia Borgia. It was then transformed from a grand dwelling place into formidable military fort. However, just four years later Pope Julius II returned it back to the Caetanis.
From then Sermoneta remained in the hands of the Caetani family until 1977, when the family, lacking inheritors, died out. The castle and Gardens of Ninfa were bequeathed to the Roffredo Caetani Foundation which now manages both of these sites.
The majestic castle dominates the town. It is well preserved and has a large square tower called La Torre Maschio which is 42 metres high, and there is another which is somewhat smaller. There are guided tours of the castle and its living quarters. It is now used as a venue for cultural events such as the Festival of Music during the months of June and July.