To see: town & cities
From the archaeological finds of the Civic Museum, it is clear that the territory of the central Appennino, including the Cascia area, was very populated already in pre-Roman times, several centuries before Christ, by proto-Italian populations, first incinerators and inhumators then, devoted to agriculture and crafts.
In protohistoric age, together with the nursino and the "reatino", it was part of the Sabina that, in the III century, was conquered by the Romans; in the Augustan division of Italy into Regions, the Samnium, of which Sabina became part, constituted the IV Regio.
As evidence of the vivacity and importance of Cascia in pre-Roman and Roman times, tangible traces remain today, archaeological finds that have occurred throughout the territory: tombs, epigraphs, votive stipulations, coins, vases, macaws, funerary stones.
The Romans inhabited the area consistently.
However, the Roman Cascia was not the "Cursula" mentioned by Dionigi d'Alicarnasso, with whom some scholars wanted to identify it. In fact, this last city was only 15 kilometers from Rieti, while Cascia is 59 kilometers away.
A Roman pagoda, that is a country district, had formed close to the current town, already with the name of "pagus cassianus" or "Cassia" (later become the current "Cascia"); the district near Santa Maria still has the old denomination of "pago".
In the Roman pagoda, inhabited by agricultural and artisan populations, during the Christianity, the church of Santa Maria della Pieve (from "plebe", ie small people), built over a pagan temple between the 4th and 6th centuries, will be born.
The first time the city was mentioned in an official document, it is during the war between Byzantines and Goths, when in 553 General Narsete ordered to Aligerno to go to Cascia to oppose the passage of the gothic soldiers who were heading from Umbria towards the Campania.
After the Romans came the Longobards, who descended into Italy following their king, Alboin, in 568: a part of these warriors, allied with the Byzantines, formed the Duchy of Spoleto in central Italy, which soon came to understand the surrounding mountainous territory , including the mountains of the current Valnerina. In the terminology and political organization of the area in the Middle Ages, signs of the Lombard period will still remain.
In the early Middle Ages, the countryside was dominated by the numerous monastic cells of the Abbey of Farfa; among them was the priory of Romagnano, with the adjoining Ospedale di S. Spirito, under the Longobard gastaldato, thanks to the many donations of the settlers. Here the abbeys of S. Eutizio, Ferentillo and Sassovivo dominated and several monastic and priory centers were planted.
In 789, after the Longobards, the Franks arrived, until, in 962, the emperor Ottone I of the Holy Roman Empire, gave the pope a large part of the Valnerina including the city of Cascia, that is the whole territory from the bottom to the high up the hill of Sant'Agostino, so much so that in the Middle Ages the Commune had to pay to the papacy, the legitimate owner of the place, a tribute, the so-called "fodrum".
After the year 1000, the Castrum Cassiae, the fortified castle, the castle at the top, on the hill named after Sant'Agostino, will be born.
So the population moved, in a few years, from the bottom to the top and the walls were built for the purpose of defense and for a better organization of political and civil life.
The fortification was not only for reasons of defense, but also and above all for socio-economic reasons.
The castrum developed from the highest point downwards, in a semicircle, along the delimited hill and defended by the narrow and horrendous gorge of the Corno river and that of the Fosso di Cuccaro, where torrential waters flowed for most of the year.
The territory was divided into semi-circles in which the families had small plots of land for the home and to grow the garden.
Access was assured by seven doors, more or less wide depending on the roads that led to it.
The Cassie castrum was almost impregnable on at least three sides, on the side of the two Gorges of Corno and Fosso of Cuccaro and on the north-west side, where an artificial moat had been dug.
At the top of the hill, at least since 1057, is the religious settlement of the convent and church of the regular canons professing the rule of St. Augustine, who owned one of their churches, dedicated to St. Giovanni Battista. Next to this is also another smaller church, dedicated to St. Peter, built along an important way of communication, to give hospitality to pilgrims and wayfarers, who could refresh themselves in the shacks annexed to the religious building. This church of St. Pietro became the master church of the castrum, proper to the authorities, so dear to the Cascians that they rebuilt it three times, always in the same area, using the original stones.
The highest point of the hill was inhabited by the wealthy classes, the aristocrats; they organized themselves into consortiums of socially similar or parental type caste, ruling the castrum under the direction of a leader.
In 1198, the Swabian duke of Spoleto, Conrad of Urslingen, commissioned the city by the emperor Barbarossa, spottomise to Pope Innocent III, who immediately favored in the duchy centers a form of autonomous administration that led to the birth of the true Municipalities and its own.