Local legend says that the town arose from a small group of houses constructed around a theater (circo) set up by the Romans to celebrate the inauguration of Emperor Claudius, who drained the ancient Fucine lake. The Church of S. Bartolomeo is mentioned in a papal bull of 1300. During the medieval period the village was held by the Colonna and Piccolomini families of Rome, who granted it to Camilla Peretti in 1591, along with the County of Celano and the Barony of Pescina. Over the centuries the Fucino plain was resubmerged, until it was drained in the mid-nineteenth century by Alessandro Torlonia, 2nd Prince di Civitella-Cesi. Families from Cerchio then farmed the rich soils of the lake bed, working as tenant farmers, share-croppers and day-laborers under the Torlonia Administration. The town was badly damaged by the earthquake of 1915.