The History of Minturno / Traetto

The history of Minturno continued after the fall of the Roman empire. The old Roman city of Minturnae is said to have been virtually destroyed by the Longobards between 580 and 590 and became abandoned. Then raids by the Saracens in 883 prompted people occupying the coastal and area of the plains to flee inland to a higher vantage point. A new fortified town was founded named Traetto or Traietto and was governed by the Pope.  The Saracens, however, built a fortress on the bank of the river Garigliano and held onto this lower territory for several years.  Eventually they were expelled in 915 by the troops of Pope John X and the Catholic league following the Battle оf Garigliano. Ownership of the town of Traetto, and the surrounding coastal area was consequently passed to Giovanni I of Gaeta.

The town’s turbulent history continued, as in 917 the town was sacked by the Hungarian Magyars. In 1058 Traetto  was gifted to the Abbey of Montecassino, but soon after this it was conquered by the Normans of Sicily. Thus in 1105 Riccardo I dell’Aquila, the duke of Gaeta and nephew оf Pope Boniface VIII, took possession of the town. In the 14th century ownership transferred to the Caetani. In 1497 the duchy of Traetto was awarded to Prospero Colonna by Charles VIII of France.

Another important date in history marked the second Battle of the Garigliano which was fought on 29th December 1503 for the control of Naples. During the battle the army of the Holy League (troops from Spain, Austria, Milan, the Pope and Venice) lead by the Spaniard Gonzalo Fernández of Córdoba defeated the French army of Louis XII.

The French subsequently retreated to the small town of Mola (now Formia) and then to Gaeta. Here there was a short siege before the French eventually capitulated. Thus Spain gained a total supremacy over the Kingdom of Naples that would last for several centuries. In 1692 the Carafa family purchased the duchy.

On the Easter Sunday of 1799 Traetto was attacked by French and Polish troops during Napoleon’s invasion. As a result 375 of its citizens were killed plus many more in neighbouring towns. In 1829 the name of the town of Traetto was changed to Minturno, as it is still known today. A bridge was built by the Bourbon King Ferdinand II in 1832 to span the Garigliano River. Following the siege of Gaeta, and the defeat of the Bourbon King Francesco II of the Kingdom of Naples and the Two Sicilies Gaeta Minturno became part of the unified Kingdom of Italy.

Minturno saw yet more conflict during the Second World War as the town was sited on the German Gustav defence line. It suffered heavy bombardments before being finally liberated in 1944.

The Castle

In the highest part of the town, which stands at a height of 147 metres,  there is an impressive castle or baronial palace, which was built at the turn of the 9th century by Pope Leo III.  It has a square shaped tower measuring 60 metres, although it was taller before being struck by lightening during the 19th century. It also has an inner courtyard, and a covered walkway that leads to the great hall which is used to hold cultural events and exhibitions.

Over the centuries the palace hosted several notable guests such as Saint Thomas Aquinus in 1272, Alfonso of Aragon in 1452, Isabella Colonna and Giulia Gonzaga of FondiMore photos of the historic centre of Minturno

The Medieval town was surrounded by a ring of fortified walls. There were three main gates into the borgo: La Portella, Santo Stefano and Porta Nuova.  The castle was ruined by the Napoleon’s French troops in 1799 and again during the conflict of the Second World War.

Next to the castle there is a small park with a War Memorial.

From the main piazza there are magnificent views of the Scauri promontory and in the distance the Gaeta peninsula.

 

In the main square of Piazza Roma stands the little stone Church of San Francesco.