04023 Formia LT, Italia
tipologia : Resti Archeologici
accessibilità : luogo pubblico

Tulliola mausoleum rises in front of Cicerone’s one. On the top of a hill, a smaller tomb is, accorded the tradition, regarded as the tomb of his daughter Tulliola. However, while we know for sure that Cicerone’s aren’t located in Formia, but in Rome, it is known that his daughter’s remains are, indeed, in the mausoleum dedicated to her.

The area in which Tulliola mausoleum is set, takes its name from “Acerbara“ referring to the girl herself( « acerbam » because she died at a young age and « ara » to point out the real place where she actually died ).

On the peak of Acerbara’s hill, there are also traces of constructions of the republican roman period. Beyond the good workmanship and thick walls there is an enormous side pillar of an entrance made of calcareous stone with anchoring holes for the door. It is about two meters long, with the sides of about fifty cm.

Many thick pieces in earthware have been found: one in particular, in a triangular form, was used to build columns to be covered with plaster. Other pieces in earthware covered with « cocciopesto »(paste of earthware) and another one of a great dimension, visibly curved and thick which belonged to a « dolium ».

The wall’s ruins could refer to a watercourse, currently tumbledown and covered with dirt and scrubs. It would therefore be the water sources on the Acerbara », mentioned in many ancients text. Some parts of the collapsed walls are in fact referred to lofts built with barrels used to collect rain water. It’s still uncertain how it was possible to build such constructions in a so arduous place and with a difficult access.




Originally it was like this.

It is a site that I had the chance to visit many times and I’ve always wondered how it was originally.

The current condition of the places has few details than Pasquale Mattej’s (1813-1879) recognition and pictures around 1847, (picture 1- used as a base for a photographic graft exposed in this post).


foto 1

Before Mattej, the site was designed by Sebastiano Conca (1680-1764)- (picture 6)- and by Carlo Labruzzi (1748-1817)- (picture 7)-, but both with useless results, not enough to realize my idea .

foto 6

foto 7

All of the three mentioned artists drew and painted the whole mausoleum that was composed by a tomb, a floor made of a local calcareous basolato and a structure called “pyramid” or “spindle” (Picture 8-Luce’s institute ’30s).

foto 8

Without any doubts, Mattej’ s drawing is more accurate and similar to reality, in particular the west side of the tomb. Maybe even our fellow citizen had no idea of how the monument’s upper part masonry had been like, in “latericium and reticulatum” dated the first imperial roman period. In Mattej’s drawing (Picture 1), the upper part of the main site is covered by scrubs.

I have to thank my friend and artist Emilio Sparagna who has foreseen , a few years ago, the upper’s octagonal shape with a covering tile, so that he made a model 1:10.(Picture 3).

foto 3

Thanks to this information, I begged my friend Fausto Forcina to cover the upper part using “Fotoshop” reproduced by Emilio Sparagna on the picture drawn by Pasquale Mattej.

Actually, the octagonal shape of this upper level is confirmed by the vision of picture 2, while the covering tile is justified by the great amount of thick pieces of earthware still visible around the site, especially along the sea slope.

foto 2

In this way I was able to enrich my narration with this photographic description.

I hope my simple idea will stimulate the experts in the techno-graphics field so we can have a 3D reconstruction not only of this monument, but also of the Cisternone, the Roman Theatre, The Roman amphitheatre , Cicero’s Mausoleum, Caposele’s Cryptoportici and of the Cryptoportici under the Municipal Villa.

I think that like in every town with archeological remains provided with 3D graphic elaborations also in our local Archeological Museum it would be necessary to get them.

Just for now, let’s be satisfied with my humble work achieved thanks to the collaboration of two friends of mine, above mentioned .

Raffaele Capolino



Curiosity: Maybe it was designed by the architect Cluazio.

Here are expressed Cicero’s wills, projects and worries for its execution.

For the execution of this “Fanum Tulliolae” (Tulliola’s Sacred Place), it’s necessary to read the long epistle n. 36 , book 12, sent by Cicerone to Attico.

These are the most interesting parts: “I want a small temple to be built… If I built it inside of one of my houses, I would be afraid of the property changes.

While if I had to build it in any part of the countryside, it seems to me that I can guarantee the religious respect of the posterity.

If you approve the idea,the place,the project,please read the law and send it to me.

If a system to avoid it comes up in your mind, we will adopt it and if you agree to make the little temple, as I’m thinking about it now, I’d like you to convince Cluatius and push him to move.

If we were to decide for another place, I think I’ll take advantage of his services and his technical suggestions anyway.”

So from this letter we know that the project and the realisation of the “Fanum Tulliolae” would have been assigned to the architect Cluazio anyway, but another worry was the fiscal one.

The writer Colleen Mc Cullough stated that Cicerone knew he would have spent twenty talents equal to the price of the tomb for ten talents and additional ten, that for the “ Suntuaria” Law approved by Caesar , he should have paid to the Treasury as a tax.

Cicero expressed Attico his will to elude the Treasury, saving ten talents, presenting a request not for the construction of a burial site but for a Sacred Place open to the public: a “ Consecratum” or better a “Sanctuary”. At that time, a roman talent was equal to 100 pounds of not coined silver. Compared to our current time, a roman talent corresponds to a 10.000 euros value, so the entire work with the fiscal charge, would have costed 200.000 euros.

The current value would be much higher if the calculation would have been done on a purchase of a silver pound in the two different ages.

Another instruction Attico received by Cicero was Apella of Chio (Greece) ‘s charge for the choice of the marbles.

Attico tried without success to suggest to Cicerone the construction of a Temple on a little island in the old property of Arpino, or near Astura, but the orator in the end, as stated by Marzial, decided a Mausoleum within the lands of his property in Formia, laying on the Appian way well visible from anyone who passed through that part of the most important road of the world at the time.

Therefore it could be very likely the architect Clauzio that designed and had Tulliola’s Tomb built on the mount Acerbara, using greek marbles bought from Apella of Chio by Attico.

Nowadays Acerbara’s Toms is believed Tulliola’s one, who died in 45 a. C. in childbirth ; Publio Dolabella, from whom she separated months before, supervised her son’s upbringing.

In that year Cicerone himself left the young Publilia, who didn’t show respect to Tulliola and that he had married after the divorce from Terenzia in 46 a.C.

Celio Rodigino(real name of Ludovico Ricchieri 1469-1525) tells that under Pope Sisto IV, in front of Cicerone’s Tomb on the Appian way , Tulliola’s Tomb had been found with a embalmed body and braided golden hair , but that after three days everything dissolved in ashes.

This episode has to be furthered and we have to understand if it really happened in our territory.

Another discovery is dated back to Pope Paolo III, around 1540, when a tomb with the inscription “Tulliola Filiae Meae”  was discovered in the periphery of Rome and that the sepulchral flame , that had been burning for more than 1500 years, suddenly extinguished itself.

The Pope, facing a so clamorous popular rage, decided to make the well-conserved body of the girldisappear forever, throwing it in the river Tevere(Tiber).

I believe I have largely told the most important clues on this story related to Tulliola’s Tomb andthat’s one of the main historical event in Formia’s history.

In the future there could always be, like for every historical narration, updates or adjustments.

Raffaele Capolino




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