The Estate of Tor Vergata

The Tor Vergata estate and hamlet were located between Via Tuscolana and Via Labicana, south of the 13th km of Via Casilina. According to A. Nibby, the name “Tor Vergata”, very common in the Roman country, comes from the striped (vergata) look, resulting from the redbricks alternated with greyish tufaceous bricks used to build the tower. According to Tomassetti, at the beginning of the century the whole estate was 119,81 hectares. Unfortunately, there are no traces of the hamlets, the tower and the small village, as shown by a map from the Alexandrine rural registrar of the XVII century.

During the VIII century the Roman country was invaded by the Longobards who worsened its agricultural economy. In the IX century, however, the living conditions improved and therefore new towers along the coast and along military roads were built. 
In the XIII century, the towers of Tor Vergata, of Torrenova and that of Torre SS. Quattro were built in order to control the territory between Via Tuscolana and Via Labicana.
The church and lay estates consolidated in the Roman countryside in the XI century thanks to the wars of investiture which gradually changed their nature from emphyteutal to feudal.
The consolidation continued throughout the XIII century when the feudal families tried to impose their dominion by buying or usurpating large estates.
In order to trace the origins of Tor Vergata or to identify who built the tower (the first element of a congregation), who lived in it and determined its fate, we need to examine the history of Rome during the XII, XIII, XIV centuries, when important families had a political and military influence in the area.

Tor Vergata is first mentioned in a deed dated May 2nd 1361 by which Tebalduccio, belonging to the powerful and rich Annibaldi family from Montecompatri, sold a quarter of the estate to Andrea Oddone de Palombara; this transaction was done with the help of Paulus Serromani, a Roman notary. Tabalduccio had inherited the estate from his father Butius who had, in turn, inherited it from his father Giovanni I, the son of Riccardo Annibaldi.
In Riccardo Annibaldi´s document referring to the partition of goods dated June 27th 1301, Giovanni I received the same property, which sixty years later belonged to his son Butius, except for Tor Vergata. As a matter of fact, Riccardo, had given the castra of Ariccia, Bonaffitto and Montecompatri and Turris Magistri, instead of that of Tor Vergata. From 1301 onward Tor Vergata will never be mentioned again.

There was therefore an interruption in the line of inheritance of the Annibaldi family: the Turris Virgata mentioned only until 1361 and the Turris Magistri Stephani mentioned until 1301.
The most accredited hypothesis is that the hamlet built by senator Riccardo Annibaldi around the Turris Virgata of the XIII century formely belonged to Magister Stephanus. In the sixty years (between 1301 and 1361) the estate was completed and the tower became part of the estate, changing its name into Turris Virgate. In fact, in the act of 1301 Giovanni I inherited the Turris Magistri Stephani "cum toto seu tenimento et terris qualitercumque et quocumque tempore per ipsum dominum Riccardum acquisitis jam ascriptis tenimento ipsus turris".

Jean Coste, probably the greatest living scholar of medieval topography of the Roman country, noticed that the boundaries of the Turris Magistri Stephani described in the act of 1301 can be overlapped with those of the future Turris Virgata:

  1. The tenimentum Albestucii Johannis Bobonis, in other words, the future Torrenova estate, bordering Tor Vergata;
  2. The properties of Jacobi and Jordanes Ilperini which, according to the deed of 1318, bordering with Torrenova;
  3. Carcaricola´s estate, belonging to the Church of Sancte Pudentiane in XIV century bordering with Tor Vergata;
  4. The Gandolfo family whose estates bordered with Carcaricola and Tor Vergata.