The Alban Hills
are the site of a quiescent volcanic complex
, located 20 km
southeast of Rome
and about 24 km north of Anzio
The dominant peak is the Monte Cavo, at 950 m (3,115 ft, ). There are two small calderas which contain lakes, Lago Albano and Lake Nemi (). The rock of the hills is called Peperino (lapis albanus) a particular Tuff, a combination of ash and small rocks that is useful for construction, and provides a mineral-rich substrate for grape vines.
The area was inhabited by the Aequi
during the 5th to 3rd centuries BC. The ancient Romans
called them Albanus Mons
. On the summit was the sanctuary
Latiaris, in which the consuls
celebrated the Feriae Latinae
, and several generals
celebrated victories here when they were not accorded regular triumphs
in Rome. The temple has not survived, but the Via Triumphalis
leading up to it may still be seen.
The hills, especially around the shores of the lakes, have been popular since prehistoric times, from the 9th to 7th century BC there were numerous villages (see the legendary Alba Longa and Tusculum). In Roman times these villages were inhabited as a way to escape the heat and crowds of Rome, and there are many villas and country houses.
Towns and cities
The towns and villages in the Alban Hills are known as the Castelli Romani
Examination of deposits have dated the two most recent eruptions to around 37,000 and 41,000 years ago.
The area exhibits small localised earthquake
, and release of carbon dioxide
and hydrogen sulphide
into the atmosphere. The uplift and earthquake swarms have been interpreted as caused by a slowly growing spherical magma chamber
5-6 kilometres below the surface; some think that it may erupt again; if so, there is risk to Rome
, which is only 25 to 30 km away.
There is documentary evidence of an eruption in 114 BC, but the absence of holocene geological deposits has largely discredited it as a volcanic event and instead the account is considered to be a description of a forest fire.
The volcano emits large amounts of carbon dioxide. This can potentially reach lethal concentrations if it accumulates in depressions in the ground in the absence of wind. The asphyxiation of 29 cows in September 1999 prompted a detailed survey, which found that concentration of the gas at 1.5 m above the ground in a residential area on the northwestern flank sometimes exceeded the occupational health threshold of 0.5%. Eight sheep were killed in a similar incident in October 2001.
Writers and artists who have produced work about this area include:
- Clara Louisa Wells in The Alban Hills ed. 1878
- Charles Coleman painter
- Charles H. Poingdestre painter
- Edward Lear painter and lithographer
- Ellis Cornelia Knight, writer and painter in "Description of Latium or La Campagna di Roma"
- George Gordon Byron in "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"
- Georgina E. Troutbeck - Rambles in Rome - London - ed. Mills & Bonn - 1914
- James Duffield Harding in "Tourist in Italy"
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in "Italian Journey"
- John Henry Henshall watercolor painter
- Richard Colt Hoare in "A classical tour through Italy and Sicily"
- Richard Voss
- Thomas Ashby, archaeologist, wrote "The Roman Campagna in Classic Time"
- William Brockedon painter and illustrator of guide-book
- William Leighton Leitch watercolor painter in Lanuvio
- John Singer Sargent, painter in Villa Torlonia - Frascati
- Gavin Hamilton, artist and antiquarian, painter and archaeologist, in Genzano and Lanuvio (XVIII century)
- Stendhal, writer, in Albano Laziale, Chroniques italiennes (1836-1839):L'Abbesse de Castro