Province of Latina, Latium, Italy
Itri is a small town and comune in the province of Latina, Lazio, central Italy.
Itri is an agricultural center divided into two parts by a small river, the Pontone. It is located in a valley between the Aurunci Mountains and the sea, not far from the Gulf of Gaeta. The oldest part, with the Castle, was partially destroyed during the Second World War.
The Itrani speak a particular variant of the Neapolitan language called Itrano.
Itri's first direct documentary record dates back to 914, but settlements in the neighborhood existed since prehistoric times, as evidenced by the results of the Neolithic and Bronze Age.
According to legend, the origins of Itri seem to coincide with the destruction of Amyclae, a maritime city founded by the twin sons of Zeus, Castor and Pollux, whose Spartan followers clashed with Aeneas. The Greek colony was probably on the coast about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Fondi. Amyclae was founded between Lake Fondi and the coast of Terracina, on the edge of the murky waters of the marshes present at the time. The tranquil Amyclaeans were plagued by the cursed and numerous evil forces of the swamp, unstoppable beings such as the monstrous nine-headed snake, the Hydra of Lerna, which he attacked with poisonous poison, and whose heads would grow back faster than Hercules could cut them with his sword. The city of Amyclae was soon annihilated. The few survivors left the city and moved a few kilometers south to the area now known as Itri. These early inhabitants of Itri allegedly adopted the emblems of the "Signum Salutis", a snake, as their symbol of power, and "Amycleus", the dog's head, as their symbol of loyalty.
More likely, Itri was probably a city or outpost of the Aurunci, subsequently conquered and assimilated by the Romans.
The name Itri derives from the Latin word iter, which means "path" or "way", appropriate since the city is located where the ancient Roman Appian way, built in 312 BC, crosses the Aurunci Mountains through a narrow passage, the Gola di Sant'Andrea, defined by Charles Dickens as a "noble mountain pass". An alternative hypothesis on the origin of the name of the city suggests that it derived from the cult of the eastern god Mithras, as there is a large underground temple dedicated to him a few hundred meters south of the city. Yet another suggestion is that it derives from the Greek snake "hydra", pronounced in some dialects as "itra". In Roman times Itri would have been nothing more than a postal station, a role which continued until the nineteenth century; in Bourbon times Itri was the twelfth of the 18 postal stations that went south from Rome to Naples.
In the Middle Ages the population grew and three lines of walls were built to protect the people who lived around the castle. Itri was part of the duchy of Gaeta and was a possession of the Dell'Aquila family, dukes of Fondi. In modern times Itri was part of the Kingdom of Naples.
Due to its position on the Sant'Andrea Gorge, Itri has historically been the scene of many military activities and numerous important battles. Perhaps the most famous occurred in 1503 when Consalvo of Cordova defeated the French army under the command of the Duke of Nemours, an action known as the Battle of the Garigliano.
During the Second World War, Allied bombings destroyed 75 percent of the city's buildings.
The castle, which commands the entire nearby valley. It has a square crenellated tower, attributed to Duke Docibilis I of Gaeta (882), to whom his nephew Marinus II added a polygonal tower. A third tower, nicknamed the Crocodile ("Crocodile") is located in a lower position, directly above Via Appia. A third line of walls is from the mid-13th century.
The church of San Michele Arcangelo (11th century), in Arab-Norman style.
The 12th century bell tower of the destroyed church of Santa Maria Maggiore, with Byzantine-style decorations.
The Sanctuary of the Madonna della Civita is located 3 kilometers (3 km) from the city on a mountain once dedicated to the Roman god Mercury with a splendid panorama. It houses a sacred image of the Virgin, which, according to legend, was painted by San Luca. He was crowned here by Pope Pius VII, and again by Pius IX in 1877. King Ferdinand II of Naples visited the place in 1849.
The Rocca di Sant'Andrea was built in the 1st century BC on the remains of an ancient Roman villa, located along the ancient Via Appia in the direction of Fondi. This fortress was used by Fra Diavolo during defensive operations against the French in 1798.
The Church of Santa Maria di Loreto is located on a hill northeast of the city center. It is connected to the convent of the Capuchin order. The painting of the Madonna di Loreto, made by the 18th century Neapolitan artist Sarnelli, is suspended above the altar of the church.
Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itri