[an-zee-oh; It. ahn-tsyaw]
Anzio, Lat. Antium, town (1991 pop. 33,497), in Latium, central Italy, on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is a seaside resort with a fishing industry. A Volscian town, it was captured by Rome in 341 B.C. and became a favorite resort of the Romans. Nero and Caligula were born there; among the ruins of Nero's villa two famous statues, the Apollo Belvedere and the Girl of Anzio, were found. Anzio declined in the Middle Ages, but it revived c.1700 and became a residence of the popes. During World War II, Allied troops landed (Jan., 1944) at Anzio and nearby Nettuno to draw German forces from Cassino, thus effecting a breakthrough (May, 1944) to Rome.

Anzio is a city and resort on the coast of the Lazio region of Italy, about 33 miles south of Rome. Well known for its seaside harbor setting, it is a fishing port popular with tourists and a departure point for ferries and hydroplanes to the Pontine Islands of Ponza, Palmarola and Ventotene. The city bears great historical significance as the site of a crucial Allied landing during World War II. Anzio has been awarded the Blue Flag for the quality of its beaches.


Volsci Times

Called Antium in ancient times, it was the capital of the Volsci people until it was taken by the Romans.

Roman era

With the latter expansion of Rome it was just far enough away to be insulated from the riots and tumults of Rome. When Cicero returned from exile, it was at Antium that he reassembled the battered remains of his libraries, where the scrolls would be secure. Leading Romans built magnificent seaside villas at Antium. The Julian and Claudian emperors frequently visited it: Gaius Maecenas had a villa at Antium; both Emperor Caligula and Nero were born in Antium; the latter founded a colony of veterans and built a new harbour, the projecting moles of which are still existing.

Remains of Roman villas are conspicuous all along the shore, both to the east and to the north-west of the town. Many works of art have been found: the Fanciulla d'Anzio, the Borghese Gladiator (Louvre Museum) and the Apollo Belvedere in the Vatican were all discovered in the ruins of villas at Antium.

Of the villas, the most famous was the Villa of Nero at Antium which cannot be certainly identified, but is generally placed at the so-called Arco Muto, where remains of a theatre (discovered in 1712 and covered up again) also exist. It extended along the coast of the Capo d'Anzio some 800 meters of seafront. Nero razed the former villa on the site, where Augustus had received a delegation from Rome to acclaim him Pater patriae ("Father of his Country") to rebuild on its foundations a villa on a more imperial scale, which was used by each Emperor in turn, up to the Severans. Of the famous temple of Fortune (Horace, Od. i. 35) no remains are known.

Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages Antium was deserted in favour of Nettuno: at the end of the 17th century Innocent XII and Clement XI restored the harbour, not on the old site but to the east of it, with the opening to the east, a mistake which leads to its being frequently silted up; it has a depth of about 5 m. The sea is encroaching slightly at Anzio, but some miles farther north-west the old Roman coast-line now lies slightly inland (see Tiber). The Volscian city stood on higher ground and somewhat away from the shore, though it extended down to it. It was defended by a deep ditch, which can still be traced, and by walls, a portion of which, on the eastern side, constructed of rectangular blocks of tufa, was brought to light in 1897. The modern place is a summer resort and has several villas, among them the Villa Borghese.

World War II

Anzio and Nettuno are also notable as sites of an Allied forces landing (Operation Shingle) and ensuing four-month battle during World War II. The Commonwealth Anzio War Cemetery and Beach Head War Cemetery are located here. The battle of Anzio is depicted in the film of Pink Floyd's The Wall and the newly-remastered version of The Final Cut, in the song "When the Tigers Broke Free"; the father of Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters died there in the battle. See also 7 Steps Down, a novel of World War II Anzio, published in 2007. American forces (5th Army) were surrounded by Germans in the caves of Pozzoli in February 1944. They were surrounded for a week and then suffered heavy casualties. There is a Holywood production called Anzio (1968,dir. Edward Dmytryk) which relates to the battle at Anzio starring Robert Mitchum, based on a book by Wynford Vaughan-Thomas.

Main sights

In Anzio can be found the Anzio Beachhead British Military Cemetery and a Beachhead Museum. The American Military Cemetery is in Nettuno. About 8 km north of the town there is a WWF park with sulfur springs and a medieval tower, Tor Caldara. All along the coast a large number of beaches and sea resorts can be found, including hotels and the famous fish restaurants of the port of Anzio. The city once hosted a Casino that is no longer active and now hosts cultural events. In the southern part of the town, close to the border with Nettuno, are many Italian art nouveau style houses.


Anzio is connected to Rome by the Via Nettunense (SS207), the Via Ardeatina (SS601) and by the Roma-Nettuno railroad that stops in the stations of Lavinio, Villa Claudia, Marechiaro, Anzio Colonia and Anzio.


  • A. Nibby, Dintorni di Roma, i. 181; Notizie degli scavi, passim.

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