FERENTINO (anc. Ferentinum, to be distinguished from Ferentum or Ferentinum in Etruria), a town and episcopal see of Italy, in the province of Rome, from which it is 48 m. E.S.E. by rail. Pop. (1901) 7957 (town), 12,279 (commune). It is picturesquely situated on a hill 1290 ft. above sea-level, and still possesses considerable remains of ancient fortifications. The lower portion of the outer walls, which probably did not stand free, is built of roughly hewn blocks of a limestone which naturally splits into horizontal layers; above this in places is walling of rectangular blocks of tufa. Two gates, the Porta Sanguinaria (with an arch with tufa voussoirs), and the Porta S. Maria, a double gate constructed entirely of rectangular blocks of tufa, are preserved. Outside this gate is the tomb of A. Quinctilius Priscus, a citizen of Ferentinum, with a long inscription cut in the rock. See Th. Mommsen in Corp. Inscrip. Lat. x. (Berlin, 1883), No. 5853.
The highest part of the town, the acropolis, is fortified also; it has massive retaining walls similar to those of the lower town. At the eastern corner, under the present episcopal palace, the construction is somewhat more careful. A projecting rectangular terrace has been erected, supported by walls of quadrilateral blocks of limestone arranged almost horizontally; while upon the level thus formed a building of rectangular blocks of local travertine was raised. The projecting cornice of this building bears two inscriptions of the period of Sulla, recording its construction by two censors (local officials); and in the interior, which contains several chambers, there is an inscription of the same censors over one of the doors, and another over a smaller external side door. The windows lighting these chambers come immediately above the cornice, and the wall continues above them again. The whole of this construction probably belongs to one period (Mommsen, op. cit. No. 5837 seq.). The cathedral occupies a part of the level top of the ancient acropolis; it was reconstructed on the site of an older church in 1099-1118; the interior was modernized in 1693, but was restored to its original form in 1902. It contains a fine canopy in the "Cosmatesque" style (see Relazione dei lavori eseguiti dall' ufficio tecnico per la conservazione dei monumenti di Rome a provincia, Rome, 1903, 175 seq.). The Gothic church of S. Maria Maggiore, in the lower town (13th-14th century), has a very fine exterior; the interior, the plan of which is a perfect rectangle, has been spoilt by restoration. There are several other Gothic churches in the town.
Ferentinum was the chief town of the Hernici; it was captured from them by the Romans in 364 B.C. and took no part in the rising of 306 B.C. The inhabitants became Roman citizens after 195 B.C., and the place later became a municipium. It lay just above the Via Latina and, being a strong place, served for the detention of hostages. Horace praises its quietness, and it does not appear much in later history.
See further Ashby, Röm. Mittell. xxiv. (1909).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)