Coat of arms of Sambuci

Sambuci can be recognized by the castle with four corner towers that stands on a hill at the foot of the Prenestini Mountains in the lush Aniene Valley, the river that crosses it before flowing into the Tiber in Rome. Sambuci is located inside the Mount Ruffi park and probably the name is connected to that of the elderberry plant.

Its history is linked to that of Rome, whose aqueducts fed in this valley, and then to its fall when the first monastic communities founded by Saint Benedict and his twin sister Saint Scholastica began.

Of all the monasteries, the current one of the Subiaco abbeys established itself over the others until it had control of a large territory which included numerous fortresses and lookout points in the Aniene valley and beyond.

Read on for the story

The history of Sambuci therefore began with the fall of the Roman Empire and the birth of a fort on a hill where the inhabitants of the valley took refuge. A first document dated 858 by Pope Nicolò I describes it as under the control of the abbot of Subiaco.

Sambuci then plays an important role in the 12th century during the struggle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, i.e. between the papacy and the empire. In 1174 Frederick Redbeard had descended into Italy and had destroyed some of the castles of the Aniene Valley, clashing with papal exponents.

His nephew Frederick of Antioch had married a woman from the family of the counts of nearby Poli and had governed the fortress of Sambuci for a certain period. This is referenced in a plaque in the castle and in a story that tells how Conradin of Swabia took refuge for one night in Sambuci after the defeat of Tagliacozzo. Today Conradin of Swabia is buried in the cathedral of Palermo next to his father Frederick II, Stupor Mundi.

History has seen the defeat of the empire, but the Antiochia family ruled Sambuci until its extinction. It will then be the Marquises Astalli who will transform the fortress into a castle and then into an elegant palace at the end of the sixteenth century.

The merit of the general transformation of Sambuci is mainly due to Cardinal Camillo Astalli Pamphili and his brother Tiberio who also dealt with the urban layout of the village. The seventeenth century is also the century in which Sambuci becomes a cultural meeting point with Cardinal Fulvio Astalli who was a member of the Arcadian Literary Academy under the name of Alasto Liconeo.

The Astalli family also died out and, after a few passages, Sambuci came to the Piccolomini family and then by marriage to the Theodoli marquises. This family lives in Sambuci governing the territory and making improvements to agricultural life by building mills and oil mills.

After the First World War a strong emigration towards the city of Rome begins and Sambuci experiences a first phenomenon of depopulation.

In 1943-44 the Nazis hid in the castle gardens and according to some urban legends they were looking for traces of the descendants of Frederick Redbeard.

Today the castle of Sambuci is municipal property and its gardens have become a public park. The castle is chosen as a filming venue by many international audio-visual cultural enterprises.

Typical products 

One of the typical products of Sambuci are the famous anise donuts which have been recognized by the Lazio Region, have become a Slow Food Presidium and have...

Parks and Gardens 

The large Italian garden of the Theodoli castle in the center of Sambuci was created in the 17th century by Cardinal Flavio Astaldi and covers an area of over...

On the last Sunday of October, in Sambuci the patron saint Celsus is celebrated with religious ceremonies and with the festival of polenta with ribs and...

In Sambuci a special summer evening is dedicated to witches and the ancient tradition of Pizza Somma, but also to other food and wine tastings. The night of...
Religious Celebrations 

The first weekend of September in Sambuci is a very special festival where the sacred and profane come together in an original way. It is the feast of Mary...

Churches & Places of Worship 

The church of St Peter - San Pietro is the oldest in Sambuci and preserves the relics of Saint Celsus, the patron saint of the village. Its foundation is due...

The church of Holy Mary of Grace (Santa Maria delle Grazie) is located at the entrance to the village of Sambuci and is annexed to the Franciscan convent. It...
Architecture and monuments 

The history of Sambuci is closely linked to that of its Theodoli castle, whose construction began with the fall of the Roman Empire and the need of the...

One of the works to regenerate the village of Sambuci wanted by Cardinal Camillo Astalli is the arrival of drinking water in the village in a fountain called...


 It is impossible not to notice Sambuci entering the Aniene Valley from the Rome side, the four towers of the fortress still inspire fear but hide the...

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