The family is named after the town, not the other way round. In 1101, Pietro dei Conti di Tuscolo inherited the territory of Colonna acquiring the name of Petrus de Columna.

The origins of the town are ancient as remains dating back to the Bronze Age indicate. The first housing cluster was established during the Roman period, in Labici Quintanense, following the conquest of Latin city of Labicum by the Romans in 414 BC, led by Quinto Servilio Prisco. From the 4th century Labici Quintanense became seat of the episcopacy and lived a splendid and wealthy period, interrupted in about 1111 by the barbarian invasions, the plague and famine.

The actual housing cluster began in that period when the population escaped the plague, famine and attackstaking refuge on the hill where the historical centre stands today.

Since 1101, the noble Colonna family lived in the town and built their own castle there. The family were Ghibellines and their contrast with the popes in the end pushed Pope Boniface VIII to have the territory completely destroyed in 1298 and many properties belonging to the Colonna were confiscated. After about ten years Pope Clement V returned the fief to the Colonna Family (Castrum Columnae), which they kept until 1662 and sold it to Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi. In 1710, Ludovisi handed it over to Giovanbattista Rospigliosi, Prince Pallavicini,.

In 1849, the princes Pallavicini renounced to the baronial rights and Colonna became a municipal town. During the Second World War Colonna became German military headquarters and for this was repeatedly bombed.
Together with agriculture and craftsmanship, tourism is the main economical resource of the town.