Antium – Volscian city to be feared and sworn enemy of Rome – according to tradition its roots can be traced back to Antia or Anteo, son of Ulysses and Circe, but today it no longer exists. It was a fiercely proud city that vehemently opposed the dominion of the Caput Mundi:
“Of the city of the Volsci, I was not able to discover other remains than the meager vestiges of the wall in the area known as Vignacce; the wall was built using irregular 4-sided stones which are big, but not enormous. These remains demonstrate that early Anzio was north, north-east of its current location, on the plateau of the cliffs that dominate the coast starting from Vignacce to beyond the Costaguti – today Borghese – villa. So, Anzio was not directly on the sea, but slightly inland in an area easy to defend.” [Nibby, Analisi storico-topografico- antiquaria della carta de' dintorni di Roma (Historical and topographical study of the area around Rome, 16)].
Then came Roman Antium, a place to relax and enjoy the summer months, a favorite of rhetoricians and philosophers. For example, the villas of Cicero. Maecenas, Brutus and Cassius:
“Then came Antium, another city without a port, located on a rocky site and about 260 rods from Ostia. Today, it hosts those who govern during their free time and provides relief from political tasks, if they have the opportunity: for this reason, luxurious homes have been built in the city for these stays.” (Strabone, V, 5; 3).
And even emperors. Caligula and Nero were born here. Proof of the latter’s fondness can be seen in the suggestive remains of his sumptuous villa overlooking the sea. But the former’s affection for his place of birth is also well known:
“[…] so much so that, above all others, Anzio was the place he preferred to go to relax, the way one can only in one’s own birthplace. It is even said that, so annoyed with the city, he considered moving the capital of the Empire there.” (T. Livio, IV, 8).
But then it fell into oblivion. Of the famed Volscian and then Roman center – of which Cicero wrote that “Nihil pulchrius, nihil amoenius, nihil quietus” (there is nothing more beautiful, more pleasant, more tranquil) – all that survived was a small fishing village under the watchful and inscrutable protection of Capo d’Anzio. Nothing of the famous temple of Anzio’s goddess of fortune, in her double-guise of the goddess of both good and bad fortune, the goddess also invoked by Horace (I, Ode XXV): “O diva gratum quae regis Antium” (“O goddess, who reigns over grateful Antium”) and which contended for fame with the not-distant goddess of fortune of Palestrina.
It was only at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th that Anzio returned to its ancient splendor as an elegant seaside resort, frequented by such illustrious figures as D'Annunzio.
The rest is recent history, which from the landing of the Allies to the movie sets with Fellini and Italian actors Alberto Sordi and Monica Vitti, confirm the importance of this center, which is anything but provincial.