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.
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.