A rocca is a type of Italian fortified stronghold or fortress, typically located on a hilltop, beneath or on which the inhabitants of a historically clustered village or town might take refuge at times of trouble. Generally under its owners' patronage, the settlement might hope to find prosperity in better times. A rocca might in reality be no grander than a fortified farmhouse. A more extensive rocca would be referred to as a castello.
The rocca in Roman times would more likely be a site of a venerable cult than a dwelling, like the high place of Athens, its Acropolis. Though the earliest documentation is not earlier than the eleventh century, it was during the Lombard times that farming communities, which had presented a Roman pattern of loosely distributed farmsteads or self-sufficient Roman villa, moved from their traditional places on the fringes of the best arable lands in river valleys, where they were dangerously vulnerable from the Roman roads, to defensive positions, such as had once been occupied by Etruscan settlements, before the settled conditions of the Pax Romana. Historian J.B. Ward-Perkins made the following observation regarding the rocca at the town of Falerii.