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Astura

ASTURA, formerly an island, now a peninsula, on the coast of Latium, Italy, 7 m. S.E. of Antium, at the S.E. extremity of the Bay of Antium. The name also belongs to the river which flowed into the sea immediately to the S.E., at the mouth of which there was, according to Strabo, an anchorage. The medieval castle of the Frangipani, in which Conradin of Swabia vainly sought refuge after the battle of Tagliacozza in 1268, is built upon the foundations of a very large villa, of opus reticulatum with later additions in brickwork, and with a small harbour attached to it on the south-east. Remains of buildings also exist behind the sand dunes, which possibly mark the line of the channel which separated the island from the mainland, and these may have belonged to the post-station on the Via Severiana. As far as can be seen at present, there are remains of only one villa on the island itself; [1] but along the coast a mile to the north-west a line of villas begins, which continues as far as Antium. To the south-east, on the other hand, remains are almost entirely absent, and this portion of the coast seems to have been as sparsely populated in Roman times as it is now. The island seems to have existed as such in the time of Pope Honorius III. Astura was the site of a favourite villa of Cicero, whither he retired on the death of his daughter Tullia in 453 B.C. It appears to have been unhealthy even in Roman times; according to Suetonius, both Augustus and Tiberius contracted here the illnesses which proved fatal to them.

See T. Ashby, in Mélanges de l'Ecole Française de Rome (1905), p. 207.

(T. As.)

[1] Servius, in speaking of it as oppidum, must be referring to the post-station.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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