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La Ciociaria, is an area of Southern Lazio, (Central Italy) roughly corresponding to the province of Frosinone, but without a defined border. Its history is rich, diverse and mired in controversy as to which towns and territories exactly constitutes “La Ciociara”.
One thing that is certain is that the area has been inhabited by various groups of peoples going back centuries to pre-historic times with archeological findings confirming the existence of people in the area.
The pre-historic museum of southern Lazio, in Pofi, is among the most important of Italy. It is home to artifacts demonstrating some of the prehistory of southern Lazio from a million years ago. The museum houses the man skullcap, “The Man from Ceprano”, the oldest fossil of Italy and among the oldest in Europe, more than 800,000 years old.
The territory of southern Lazio is an ample, almost endless valley stretching from Rome to the river Liri. Some of the agricultural areas were so fertile and bountiful that many peoples fought fiercely for it. The rise of Rome with its expanding empire put an end to the internal fighting, claiming supremacy over the area.
After the period of Emperor Constantine, the area of southern Lazio was divided into 2 parts: “Campagna” (the Roman countryside) and “Marittima”, the coastal area reaching as far as Terracina. This division lasted through centuries and many foreign powers attempted to conquer and control it, because of its natural riches and strategic location.
This constant struggle to control the area lasted through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and into the 19th, and 20th century.
The unification of Italy, brought about the expulsion of foreign powers that controlled much of the Italian Peninsula. There were popular and political movements that wanted to bring about change to the old administrative feudal systems. New “Provinces” were created, and some were combined to create different provinces.
La Ciociaria, was again affected by these changes. The province of Frosinone was born in 1927, from the Union of two areas: the Ciociaria, which had belonged for centuries to the Papal States, and the province of Terra di Lavoro which, before the unification of Italy, belonged to the Kingdom of the two Sicilies. The towns of the province of Terra di Lavoro were divided amongst some the newly created provinces, in different Regions. The towns that were now part of the Province of Frosinone were, Isola del Liri, Sora, Arpino, Aquino and others from the Val Di Comino area.
Thus, the administrative boundaries of the province of Frosinone, roughly delineates what we today consider “La Ciociaria” today.
Scattered throughout the region, there are imposing monasteries and magnificent churches which are symbols of our culture and are a testament of the deep faith shared by the ciociaro people. Even though there are 91, fiercely proud and unique municipalities spread out over a vast area in the province of Frosinone, there are many shared traditions, some shared dialects and great festivals and shared history. This is what makes this area “La Ciociaria”.
Many ciociari during the last two centuries have left the Ciociaria and spread around the world from Europe to the Americas, to Australia to seek new job opportunities and wealth that the local land did not seem able to offer, at the time. As a testimony to the skill and determination of the people of ciociaria, in recent decades, however, the economic situation is radically changed and improved compared to the past and the Ciociaria has become one of the most important industrial centres in Italy.
Identifying one’s self and appreciating the roots from this land and from this culture can only be a source of pride and inspiration for all ciociari in the world. This is especially true for younger people who can now visit and explore the Ciociaria in person and still see the evidence of their rich past and culture.