The name of the town originates from the venerated saint. In 1862, the specification “Val di Comino” was added to distinguish it from other places with the same name.
Ancient origins of San Donato Val di Comino
San Donato Val di Comino has ancient origins, some sources suggest that it was Cominium, an outpost of the Sanniti, destroyed in 293 BC by the Roman armies.
This outpost would have been located in the Val di Comino, specifically in the area currently occupied by the municipalities of Alvito, Vicalvi, and San Donato Val di Comino.
Roman villa and other archeological finds
During Roman times, a rustic villa was built in the current area of San Donato Val di Comino. This villa was discovered at the end of the 19th century in the district of San Fele, now known as San Fedele. The villa was built near an ancient rural fountain and a small church. Moreover, remains of necropolises and inscriptions were found in the site of the villa and in the surrounding area, and they are currently preserved at the local middle school.
First sanctuary and Lombard rule
After the first sanctuary was built in the territory of San Donato Val di Comino, which is believed to have been constructed around or after 304, the year of the martyrdom of the then bishop of Arezzo, the territory came to be governed by the Lombards within the Langobardia Minor.
First mention in historical documents
The first known document that mentions the name of the inhabited center of San Donato Val di Comino (Ecclesiam Sancti Donati in territorio Cumino) dates back to 778. In that year, Ildebrando, Duke of Spoleto, ceded the territory to the Monastery of San Vincenzo al Volturno.
Subsequently, the events that followed are linked to the outcome of the battle of Garigliano in 915. This event marked the beginning of the migration of the populations of the area, who, starting from Itri, headed towards the mountains on the border between Lazio and Abruzzo.
Although the church of San Donato Val di Comino was already mentioned in documents from 778, the inhabited center of San Donato arose later. The first mention of the village dates back to 1269 when San Donato had already existed for some time. It was probably built by the inhabitants of the castle of Sant’Urbano, which has now disappeared.
Fortifications and growth in the 16th century
Additionally, the village continued to develop during the modern era, ultimately reaching a population of over five thousand inhabitants in the 16th century. San Donato’s rich history and architecture are depicted in one of the panels of Villa La Gallia in Posta Fibreno, where a tower-keep dominates the entire inhabited center, surrounded by the walls of the fortress and houses arranged in fairly regular rows.
Furthermore, the village was described by local writers of the sixteenth century, who highlighted the fortification, the defenses, and the church-sanctuary dedicated to San Donato. Despite the challenges presented by earthquakes, droughts, plagues, and floods, the village continued to flourish. While it was rarely involved in significant historical events, it did experience the presence of eight hundred French soldiers during the years of the Neapolitan Republic.