The History of Villa Latina

This area was first a settlement of the Samnite Italic tribe. In 293 BC this territory was siezed by the Romans. Indeed there was a strong Roman presence in this area and some grand villas were constructed close to local thermal springs. Emperor Caracula is said to have had a holiday home in the area. Villa Latina’s name is thought to derive from the expression “villa dei Latini” as the remains of several Roman villas and thermal baths have been found in this area. Other archaeological remains include sections of a Roman acqueduct, in the Chiusi district, which date from the 1st century BC – 1st century AD. This watercourse served the town of Atinium.

Agnone is first mentioned in documents dating from 774 AD. It was described as a simple county “locus” of Atina.  In 891 there is mention of the Benedictine Monastery of San Mauro located near Piè delle piagge and the river Mollarino. This belonged to the Abbey of Montecassino but was abandoned during the 11th century.  Another monastery was dedicated to La Santissima Trinità

In 1059 Oderisio and Rinaldo, Counts of Marsi, built the fortification of Rocca Malcucchiara on a hill facing Atina.   A century later the fort was further strengthened by adding protective walls, tall watchtowers and an entrance gate.  Within the settlement were the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena and Church of San Salvatore and about forty dwellings.

Agnone was conquered by the Counts of Aquino, and later was ruled by the Cantelmo family. The small town was badly damaged by the earthquake of 1349 which destroyed Atina. In 1434 Rocca Malcocchiara was attacked and destroyed by the knights of Alfonso D ‘Aragona lead by Riccio di Montechiaro. Any surviving citizens fled to the nearby town of Atina. Then, in 1497 ownership passed to the Princes of Squillace.

In a document dated 1595 Agnone is said to have been a “casale”  of Atina. It described this area as being fertile, with abundant spring waters that flowed through many streams  which irrigated the land.  It grew grains, legumes, millet and produced fruits such as apples, pears, plums, persimmon, figs in large numbers.  The rivers and streams in the area were harnessed to power several flour mills.

In the 1606 ownership of the town transferred to the Gallio family and it became part of the dukedom of Sora and Alvito. At the end of the 17th century Napoleon’s french troops invaded the area. Benedetto Panetta, of Agnone, led a rebellion of the townspeople who took up arms against the French.

Under the mezzadria system many peasants were forced to work for rich land owners. They toiled in miserable conditions and many families experienced severe hardship due to poor wages and lack of food. During the late 1800’s this resulted in a mass exodus of the people of Villa Latina, who were forced to leave their home town to seek work in far away places.

During the Second World War Villa Latina was occupied by the Germans and became an important supply centre just behind the front at Montecassino. This resulted in the town being repeatedly bombed by the Allied forces, which forced the population to displace.