Rocca Pia

View the Photogallery of Rocca Pia.

The Rocca Pia , built on the place where Callisto II Borgia's Castle was situated, derives its name "Pio" from Pio II Piccolomini , the Humanist Pope, who in the July of 1461 (in occasion of the first visit of the Pope to the city of Tivoli) began this work engaging two architects of Florence, Varrone and Niccolò, both students of Filarete. With an expense of 20000 shields and after one year of work, the construction was finished. The purpose of the building was to control the inside of the city, in order to prevent any eventual popular revolts and the access to the Valley of the Aniene.

Ingrandisce foto Rocca Pia

In fact, with this construction the new Pope planned to stop the outbreaks of violence due to the people of Tivoli and then, in this way, this building is seen as a final point of the communal and the medieval period of Tivoli. Also he obtained the attenuating of the fights and the creation of a new ideal thinking that caused the definitive subjugation of the powers in the State of the Church.

Reading the "COMMENTARII" of Pio II, we know everything about the work executed to build the Rocca. The adjacent roman amphitheater of Bleso was levelled not giving in this way any shelter to the enemies, the massive wall of the medieval city town-walls was raised in the north part adding a door, defended from a bastion, that is situated where today resides the restaurant "Taverna of the Rocca" .

Ingrandisce foto Rocca Pia

The Rocca is composed by four towers of various dimensions joined together from high massive walls crowned with hanging bows inspired by the medieval architecture. Spaces needed to introduce the fire mouths are visible in some parts. The two greater towers (which height is of m.36,50 and m. 25,50) are situated towards outside in order to get the best defence from an eventual external attack.

The diameter of the greater one is of m.13,20 and contains 6 overlapped rooms, while the diameter of the other is of m.10 and this tower has 5 overlapping rooms. On the contrary, the two smaller towers are opened towards the inner courtyard in order to control the inside of the fortress and the city. These two towers are similar but they have a different height: m.18,50 vs m. 15,50; anyway both of them contain 3 overlapping rooms. The thickness of the walls is very large because, at the time of the building, the powder was asserting itself: in the greater tower, indeed, the diameter is of m.3,90, in the median one m.2,90 and in the other two m. 2.
The entrance to the castle , controlled with a drawbridge, is located on the north side. On the portal you can read a Latin text : "GRATE BONIS INVISA MALIS INIMICA SVPERBIS SVM TIBI TIBVRE ENIM SIC PIVS INSTITVIT", that sounds as: "I am here, for you, oh Tivoli, loved from the good people, hated from the bad ones, enemy for the arrogant ones: Pio II wanted all this".
During the 1700's, the Rocca was occupied by the French and the Austrian troops and then it was used as prison and barracks. In the period of Napoleon, the building was definetely turned into a prison adding a factory near to the northern wall. Then the Rocca continued to be used as a prison until 1960.


  • The Sacro Speco

    An impressive complex of buildings which almost looks as if it is one with the surrounding rock...

To know more

  • Rocca Pia

    Built on the place where Callisto II Borgia's Castle was situated...

  • Church of St.Peter

    It was built on the rests of a roman villa...

Con il patrocinio del Comune di Tivoli, Assessorato al Turismo

Patrocinio Comune di Tivoli

Assessorato al Turismo