The first documents mentioning “Castellum” and “Castrum” Pali date back, respectively, to the1254 and to the appearance of Palo in 1330, where the castle was mentioned as the property of the Normans and the Monks of Saint Saba. The castle was most likely built under the rule of Pope Pio II, who was declared a pope on August 19th 1458 and was silently given to the descendents of the Orsini family as a an epilogue to the 15th century baronial rivalry.
In 1509, Prospero D’acquasparta sold the castle and its property on behalf of Guilio Orsini and Donna Felice Orsini of Rovera for 9000 ducats. Important restorations were executed between 1513 and 1521, under Lion X who used to dwell in the Castle during the hunt parties in the forest of Polo. The graffiti left on the ceilings, at the windows and at the doors give testimony that this was more than a laudable testimony. In one of the volumes of the Archive of the Apostolic Treasury, where private expenses of Lion X are annotated, can be found that Pope commissioned the work Giullan Leno and Gian Francisco from Sangallo. During decade 1560-70, the Castle of Palo became the coastal fortress and underwent remarkable modifications in order to serve as a defense fort of the papal State. It was in these years that the Castle was most likely equipped with a forehead fortification similar to that in Bracciano. In fact, in 1563, Pio V established that the littoral towers should be strengthened and in a document of 1567, entitled “Breve sumario delle torri the si hanno da fare”, he listed towers that had to be constructed or restored, Astura, Civitavecchia, Wafer; Palo and S. Severa.
In the 15 73 Paul Giordano 1 Orsini sold the Castle to the Cardinal Alexander Farnese for 25. 000 scudi. However, the castle was soon returned to the Orsini ownership by the Tuscan Grand Duke Ferdinando Del Medici in 1589. The maintenance fees were paid by the Orsini brothers, Flavio and Lelio, who were the Palo owners during the last decade of the 17th century. They also petitioned the Barons’ Congregation regarding their creditors’ demands, and asked for recognition of their rights. Nevertheless, the brothers were coerced by the Congregation to sell the castle with all corresponding rights to the Livio I Odescalchi for the sum of 120000 skudi. The vicinity of the Rome and its particular location by the sea, made Palo a beautiful place to live in for its owner, who fell in love with a place, did the rearrangement of the Castle and in particular the external accessory of the Palace.
In the 1713 Livio I died without children and direct successors. His successor Baldassare I, sold the Castle together with the Estate of Palo in 1715 to D. Grillo, Duke of Giuliano. The Castle of Palo endured, later on, the fates of the patrimony of the Duke of Giuliano and with his death it passed to Marquis di Trevico, Carl Loffredo, his testamentary heir. The distance of the place and the maintenance burdens for the Fortress pushed this owner to yield the castle to Livio 11 Odescalchi, son of Baldassare in 1715. In the period of 1792-1893, the events enfolding in France suggested the attack on the Papal State, with a possible landing at the Lazio coast. Expresses agreements were made between the Secretariat of State and the General Treasurer in order to prepare a prompt defense plan, involving an immediate transfer of troops and armaments. The plan, written up on the 14th of October 1 792 by Mons. Ruffo, previewed the allocation to the garrison of Palo for 250 men, including the officials, the non-commissioned officers and four artillerymen. The papal garrisons remained in the castle until 1846, which allowed fora detailed reconstruction of the fortress. In 1849 the Roman Republic was born and Pope Pio IX, then a refugee in Gaeta, called for the participation of the European Catholic forces to help him to re-enter the Rome. The French disembarked in Civitavecchia in April of 1849 and allocated one garrison to Palo. During the following years we witness the decline of Papal State and the demise of Papal powers, which occurred with the takeover of Rome in 1870. The coastal fortifications, including the one at Palo, that for many centuries had carried out the service of vigilance for the Pope, lost such function. In one description from the 1880, the Guglielmotti wrote about the Castle of Palo: “From the entrance to the rest of the building one can see that every piece of the military architecture was changed to civilian: the soldiers sleeping rooms became halls, the headquarters became kitchens, the batteries became bathrooms; and in the public square of ballatojo, there were no more guards and soldiers gathering around the arms, but quiet guests enjoying cool marine breeze “. Owner of the Castle in this period was Ladislao I, son of Livio Ill, the castle assumed today’s look during his life.
Today the castle continues to be an Odescalchi family dwelling.
(From Alsium a Ladispoli by Federico Castellano and Annamaria Conforti)