In ancient times, Antium played a key role in the battles and turmoil in nearby Rome, and it was only with the arrival of Cicerone that Anzio began its long period of splendour. After returning from exile, Cicerone reorganised what was left of his library, wanting to find a safe place for its contents. At the time, the most eminent Romans were building beautiful villas by the seaside, and the Emperors from the Julio-Claudian dynasty were frequent visitors. Roman diplomat and patron Gaius Maecenas had a villa here, where future emperors Caligula and Nero were born. They founded a colony of veterans and a new port was built, the ruins of which can still be seen today.
The remains of many Roman villas are visible along the whole coast. Many well known works of art, such as the statues of the Fanciulla di Anzio, the Gladiatore Borghese (today in the Louvre) and the Apollo Belvedere (preserved in the Vatican), were discovered in Antium’s ancient villas.
During July and August, the Anzio coast is a very popular tourist destination. In fact tourists started coming here at the start of the twentieth century when middle class Romans began to build villas to spend their summer holidays in the area. The fish restaurants at the Innocenziano Port are particularly famous. In the Cincinnato area there is a watchtower, Tor Caldara, built by Marcantonio Colonna under the authorisation of Pope Pius IV towards the end of the 16th century to protect the nearby sulphur mines. The tower has recently been renovated and is in the middle of a WWF Regional Nature Reserve, home to many sulphurous springs.