Ciciliano is a medieval village on a hill north-east of Rome, at the intersection between the Prenestini Mountains and the Ruffi Mountains in an area that for years has been called the Valley of the Emperors. The Roman nobles chose it as an ideal place for hunting and holidays due to its natural beauty and abundance of waters.
Nature is luxuriant and some places are truly magical areas such as that of the Parabocio waterfalls, once the place for swimming in the summer and today a destination for travelers in search of special experiences.
From its castle, Ciciliano dominates the Giovenzano river valley, at the point where it flows into the Aniene river, and the Empolitana valley – while the Abruzzo mountains can be seen in the background.
Ciciliano could therefore control two commercial roads, which were chosen by all those who did not want to pay duties in Tivoli for the passage along the Aniene river, and which supplied wool and milk to Rome. Even today on these sheep tracks you can take walks along the transhumance routes between the Abruzzo mountain and the Lazio coast.
The first traces date back to the Neolithic and then to the Equi people with the remains of polygonal or cyclopic walls. The Equi probably created the first settlement of Trebula Suffenas, a small town born on the Fortuna pass at the foot of the current Ciciliano. With the victory of the Romans this village became an important city center complete with forum, baths, houses and streets and its importance is told by the poet Martial and can be found in the tomb of Agrippa, son-in-law of Emperor Augustus, and in a mosaic of about 50 square meters.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, to defend themselves from the Saracens and the Hungarians, the population took refuge on the highest point where a fortress controlled the valleys, and a castle protected the people. The fortress had been built by the monks of the Subiaco abbey, who had built about 13 of them to control the border with the territory of the bishops of Tivoli. A legend tells that in the Middle Ages the conversion of Saint Eustace took place in this area after the appearance of a deer with a cross between its horns.
Until the 12th century, Ciciliano was disputed between the two abbeys of Subiaco and Tivoli until in 1373 the feud was assigned to the Colonna family. During their government, Ciciliano was ruled by the Borgias for short periods, then disputed by the Farnese family during the pontificate of Pope Paul III.
During their government, the Colonnas took care of Ciciliano and arranged the fortress with the four towers, arranged the church of Saint Mary Magdalene with the annexed hospital for pilgrims and decorated the church of Saint Liberata with frescoes by the master Antoniazzo Romano.
The story of the Colonnas ended when in 1564 they sold the castle of Ciciliano to Gerolamo Theodoli, who was then bishop of Cadiz, to pay off debts and wedding dowries.
The Theodoli came from Forlì but the family perhaps had Greek origins and settled in the castle. Their history was intertwined with that of the village so much that they also had the power to administer justice and the ancient prisons can still be seen in the castle.
During the Renaissance some improvements were made to the fortress and a part was transformed into a noble palace and in the seventeenth century the family assumed the title of Marquises of the Canopy, equivalent to the title of prince, and their residences could host popes. Today the castle still belongs to the Theodoli family and in many parts, it has kept its original appearance.
In Ciciliano there is a Maronite religious community of Lebanese origin in the convent of Saint Liberata.