The town of Farnese is perched on a cliff composed of tuffaceous rock. It has been inhabited since the Bronze Age.
The Lords of Farneto were present in the territory starting from the Middle Ages. Their name comes from the tree called the farnia, the English Oak, in the woods that surround the village. Between the end of the 14th and the middle of the 15th centuries, the Farnese took hold of the territory of the Tuscia Viterbese, and used the fortresses as their residences.
Pietro is the first Farnese about whom we have any information. He was Consul of Orvieto in 1174. A series of carefully negotiated political marriages permitted the Farnese family to enter the upper echelons of Roman society. The family was raised into the ranks of Roman nobility in the middle of the 15th century when Ranuccio Farnese the Elder fervently defended the Church and gained Papal favour. At the beginning of the 16th century the Farnese controlled Valentano, Latera, Marta, Montalto, Gradoli, Canino and Capodimonte.
Duke Mario was the governor of Farnese during its most prosperous period from the end of the 16th century to the middle of the 17th century. He was the commander of the Papal Army and an excellent administrator; he gave Farnese an aqueduct as well as prestigious works of art and architecture.
A serious financial crisis forced Mario’s nephew, Pietro Farnese, to sell the fortress and the surrounding territory. On 7 June 1658 Flavio Cardinal Chigi, the nephew of Pope Alexander VII, acquired the Duchy of Farnese for 275,000 scudi, elevated it to a principality, and handed it over to his nephew, Agostino Chigi.
The principality survived until 1825 when it was acquired by the Reverend Apostolic Chamber, the Papal Treasury.
In the middle of the 16th century, by the express wishes of Bertoldo Farnese and his sons Galeazzo, Fabio and Mario, the city gained in importance thanks to the construction of new palaces, churches, convents, parks and gardens, and by the execution of important works of art commissioned by artists of the calibre of Annibale Carracci, Ettore Smeraldi, Orazio Gentileschi, Antonio Maria Panico and Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola. The painting of Saint Michael Overcoming the Devil, which can be found in the Church of San Salvatore in Farnese, was painted by Orazio Gentileschi (Pisa 1563-London 1639), father of the celebrated artist Artemisia (1593-1653).
The Tuscia is the name of the vast region where the Etruscans lived and comprises Tuscany, western Umbria and northern Latium.
The "Tuscia Romana" included the northern part of Lazio and the papal provinces known as the ancient Patrimony of Saint Peter.
Today the name Tuscia indicates the territories of Upper Lazio and the areas near the borders of Tuscany and Umbria.
Thanks to its particular land formations, marked by deep tuffaceous ravines and crossed by rivers and streams, the Alto Lazio was the land favoured by the Etruscans and was the centre of their confederation.
The earliest examples of the Etruscan language date from between the 9th century B.C. and the 1st century A.D. One inscription is particularly interesting, perhaps from the 7th century B.C. and engraved on the Chiusi Fibula, a gold brooch or garment pin found in Castelluccio di Pienza at the beginning of the 19th century. It can be seen today at the Louvre Museum, where it has been since 1863. The phrase incised into the body of the brooch is in the first person and says «MI ARATHIA VELAVESNAS ZAMATHI MANURKE MULVENIKE TURSIKINA», which means "I am the golden pin that belongs to Arunte Velavesnas. I was a gift from Manurke Tursikina". The adjective used for this precious object is the word golden: zamathi.