Genzano di Roma
|Genzano di Roma|
|Comune di Genzano di Roma|
|• Mayor||Flavio Gabbarini|
|• Total||18 km2 (7 sq mi)|
|Elevation||435 m (1,427 ft)|
|• Density||1,300/km2 (3,300/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||St. Thomas of Villanova|
The origin of the name Genzano is still disputed. According to one version, the hill overlooking the Lake of Nemi on which the city is situated was once devoted to the goddess Cynthia, whose cult was associated to that of Diana Nemorensis. Another version relates its origin to the Gentiani family. For others the presence on the hills, at that time of the "tribus or gens Cynthia" originators and custodians of the cult of courage, in "Castrum Gentianum" from them the derivation of the name Genzano. During the Roman empire the area was inhabited by wealthy Roman citizens who wished to benefit from the cleaner air, uncontaminated water and cooler temperatures during the hot summer months. The remains of many ancient Roman villas are to be found in the surroundings. The most impressive being the walls of the "Villa of the Antonini" where the later Roman emperor Antoninus Pius(r. 138-161 AD.) was born. The Herculean Sarcophagus of Genzano, currently in the British Museum was found here.
In the 12th century a tower of the Gandolfi family, lord of Castel Gandolfo, existed in the site. In 1183 Pope Lucius III gave it to the Cistercian monks of St. Anastasius of Aquae Salviae in Rome. In 1235 they built a large castle around which the town later grew. In 1378 the Popes assigned it to Giordano Orsini. The Cistercians and the Colonna alternatively ruled Genzano until 1563, when the castle was ceded for 150,000 scudos to the Massimi, from which it was bought by Giuliano Cesarini.
Livia Cesarini, the last exponent[clarification needed] of the family and wife of Francesco II Sforza, together with architect Giovanni Iacobini, designed and built Genzano Nuova (New Genzano) in 1708, according to the most modern urban planning of that time. The painter Maratti was one of the citizens who settled in Livia Sforza-Cesarini's new town.
In 1873 it was decided that the name of the town should be changed to Genzano di Roma to avoid confusion within the postal service as there are two towns in Italy called Genzano.
In the 19th and early 20th century it was seat of numerous peasant revolts; during World War II it suffered heavy damage under Allied bombings, 90% of its buildings being destroyed.
- The baronal Palace Sforza Cesarini;
- The English garden of Palace Sforza Cesarini;
- The Church of St Mary of the Cappuccines;
- The artistic fountain of St Sebastian;
- The Cathedral St Mary of the Hilltop;
In June, a great folkloristic and religious exhibition, the "Infiorata" is held. A whole street (Via Italo Belardi) is covered with allegorical carpets of flowers and a masked parade walk on these, with medieval and traditional clothes realized by the town's women. For more than two centuries (from 1778) on Sunday and Monday following Corpus Christus feast the Infiorata a most suggestive manifestation of art, pride of the artists of Genzano has taken place. Each year the artists suggestions must conform to a previously agreed upon theme, such as The Colours of Michelangelo, or The Designs of Bernini. In the spring it has recently become tradition to have a "mini Infiorata" made by the children from the local schools.
Poets and writers wrote about the Infiorata:
- Massimo d'Azeglio "...you see the fair, the people, the truly rare beauty of the town crowds of Roman, holiday makers from the nearby Castles....everything lively; and seen from the foot of the ascent it seems to be a magnificent carpet, that you regret to see spoilt by the feet of the procession".
- Richard Voss "One of the most beautiful Italian fairs is held in Genzano, the fair of flowers; the whole city seems to be a gigantic flower bed. A marvellous spectacle".
- Hans Christian Andersen "The whole street is a carpet of flowers.... Not even a breath of air moves and the flowers lie on the ground as if they were heavy precious stones...".
- Nikolai Gogol "....Don't think that the flowers are simply scattered along the street...Not at all; also don't say they are flowers, think of vari-coloured and historic carpets spread on the ground. All the designs are made of different petals; coats of arms, vases, various patterns and even a portrait of the Pope...".