Licenza is a beautiful medieval village on a crest of the Lucretili mountains immersed in the luxuriant nature of the park and the Aniene Valley. Its name is linked to that of the stream that flows near the town, the Licenza, a inpouring of the Aniene river. Originally the stream was called Dicentia, and is mentioned in the Epistles of Horace.
The history of Licenza begins in Roman times when the Romans built some of their aqueducts in the Aniene Valley and this area was chosen by some Roman patricians who built their villas there.
The most important is certainly the great villa of the poet Horace, which was donated to him by Maecenas, which extended over an area of over 40 hectares. Since the twentieth century, the excavations of the villa have attracted teams of archaeologists from many parts of the world.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, the population abandoned the valley land and took refuge in fortresses built on high ground around the tenth century and here two were built in Licenza and Civitella di Licenza, on two distinct high grounds.
Initially the castles were to be part of the defense system of the nearby Farfa Abbey which in the struggle between the papacy and the empire had sided with the German family of Frederik Redbeard. With the defeat of the empire, the abbey of Farfa loses its power and all the castles enter the church system.
Licenza has always been part of the Papal State, given its extreme proximity to Rome, and since the 12th century its fiefdom has been assigned to the Orsini family. In a document dated 1275, the castles of Licenza and Civitella are mentioned as owned by Giacomo and Orso Orsini.
Over the centuries this family became more and more powerful and acquired the nearby castles of Roccagiovine in 1368, while they strengthened and enlarged that of Licenza.
In the Renaissance the castle was transformed into a residential building, with rooms frescoed by the painter Vincenzo Manenti, which we can admire today.
Throughout the seventeenth century, the Orsini family first sold part of the feud to the Borghese family starting from Civitella and then the whole feud in 1761. Borghese family also bought the neighbors Percile, Civitella and Roccagiovine. This long negotiation was born from a prohibition by Mario Orsini who had forbidden the sale of this fiefdom by his heirs.
In the 19th century, Licenza enjoyed a new period of splendor with the construction of the new church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary based on a design by Valadier.
After the Napoleonic period in which Civitella had become an independent municipality, from 1898 it became a fraction of Licenza.
A local story tells that in order to define the borders between Licenza and Civitella, the population of the two castles decided that they would walk at sunrise (cockcrow) and the border would be the meeting point. The residents of Civitella reached as far as the center of Licenza and a dispute arose which ended with the definition of the border near the current cemetery.
The castle was then acquired by the municipality which made it the seat of the museum dedicated to Horace and an eco-hotel.