The origins of the Castle of Montignano date back to 962 when Otto I of Saxony was crowned in Milan as Emperor of Germany and King of  Italy by Pope John XII and he immediately tried to gain the loyalty [...]
Villa San Faustino
The castle of Villa San Faustino was part of the Terre Arnolfe in the tenth and eleventh centuries (mentioned in documents of the abbey of Farfa 1115 and 1118). The castle, connected to the important parish chu [...]
Castle built between 1300 and 1400, it still preserves its medieval structure. Of particular interest is the medieval main door near the small church of San Bernardino. Above the church of San Bernardino is sit [...]
The castle of Mezzanelli has followed the fortunes of the various rulers who handled its political life. Once part of Terre Arnolfe, the castle was cited in documents from 1115 and 1118 (Earls Ridolfo, Saraceno [...]
Castel Rinaldi
Medieval village built in 1160 by a certain "Rinaldo Duke of Calabria", Castel Rinaldi was part of the fief of the Arnolfi. Constantly part of Guelph, Castel Rinaldi was often the center of infighting that mark [...]
The fortified village of Viepri is wrapped in high hills, which ensured defense for centuries and still seem to hide it. Built after 1380 on the ruins of the demolished castle of Monte Schignano, its rule was t [...]
Martani Mountains
The Martani Mountains extend evenly from south to north for about 35 km between the provinces of Perugia and Terni. They border to the east on the Umbrian Valley and Valserra, to the west on th [...]
The village is today very different from what must have appeared in the Middle Ages. Today only some ruins of the fortified village remain, hidden by vegetation. Literature attest it as one of the most [...]


This name has been given to a vast system of catacombs, near Ponte Fonnaia, dating back to a period between III to V century a.C. It is the only example existing in Umbria of an underground Christian cemetery of vast proportions. The only Christian catacombs in Umbria are hidden among wheat fields and houses, probably built by the Christian community of the vicus, which developed very early (the hagiographic legend of San Brizio indicates the I-II century), and that was certainly very large (more than 300 burials were identified in the catacombs). Since 1948 the name of the catacombs is linked to the memory of San Faustino: in that year his bones were found in the abbey of the same name, not far from this area. The catacombs were partly filled inafter the abandonment of this stretch of the Via Flaminia, and remained unknown until the '600. We know from a letter from the nobleman Giuseppe Mattei from Todi, dated 1691, that the place is named Grotta Traiana and its description is quite suggestive: "you enter into the jaws of a large travertine rock, I you'd rather bend over and take a light with you, because you'll go into the darkness. Inside, after the descent, there are three underground tunnels all carved with a chisel"... The catacomb is not the size of the more well-known Christian catacombs of Rome, but still has an articulated structure, composed of a main ebbing corridor about 25 meters long and 4 meters high. In ancient times it was accessed from a steep staircase carved into the rock, now worn out and hidden beneath the modern iron staircase. Four lateral tunnels of different lengths branch off symmetrically from the central corridor. You may also notice small niches for the burial of children. Many burials are closed by slabs of marble or large tiles of clay and many tombs, called formae, are also dug in the ground. There are numerous graffiti with the symbol of the cross, palm or fish, related to the figure of Christ. Particularly interesting is a bull-shaped sarcophagus that led to the theory of a place dedicated to the cult of Mithras, then adapted to the Christian cemetery. Few archaeological finds: noteworthy the absence of inscriptions, due to the illiteracy of the population of the countryside. A small basilica next to the catacomb oriented to the east, rectangular and with a semicircular apse was discovered in 1997, thanks to the excavation allowed by the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, and conducted by the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Umbria. The building is probably connected to the nearby catacombs and occupied by 19 different types of tombs carved into the rock, the one located near the apse of a monumental kind, with arcosolium masonry. The artifacts found, bill gross oil lamps, pottery fragments and coins, are of the same period as those found in the catacombs, proof that the cemetery and the underground basilica above are contemporary. The presence of such a complex demonstrates the early spread of Christian worship in the area of Martana and it also emphasizes the concentration of population in the whole area, albeit of modest social level. The catacomb was obviously forgotten when this stretch of the old street lost its importance, and was gradually buried by the disastrous floods of Naja. Only in 1600 there was news of Trajan cave, named after the local family Traia, or because it was used by Trajan as an underground military passage; later on silence fell again until 1900 when it was mentioned at the Second Congress of the catacombs of Christian Archaeology.


Dolina di Castelvecchio

Dolina is a word of Slovenian origin and simply means valley. Given that the interest in the karst phenomena developed from the Slovenian territories, international terminology has designed that term to define more precisely a karst valley, which is a typical depression of the land molded into various shapes by karst phenomena. A dolina (sinkhole) is a closed basin that would fill with water giving rise to a pond if the walls and floor were waterproof, however, usually the water is absorbed through underground tunnels. Formed by the erosive action of rainwater, the sinkhole has an elliptical form and measures 250-300 m in diameter and is about 20 m deep.

Castellieri Culture

The Castellieri culture (or castellare) is a small fortified protohistorical settlement or village (Bronze Age and Iron Age), built in the most easily defendable elevated position, in which a natural defensive situation was exploited and reinforced by man. The fortifications are generally made of stone and wooden palisades and mostly (but not always) circular. At the fortified village are sometimes associated external necropoles, formerly with the deceased buried in boxes made of stony slabs, decorated with vases and hammers. Often their well-defendable locations have been reused at the time of the ancient Romans and during the Middle Age. The Castellieri culture, which developed in Istria and neighboring areas (also Friuli and Venezia Giulia) between the 15th and the 3rd century BC.  Other rather well-known and studied Castellieri in Italy are present in Umbria, especially in the highlands of Umbria-Marche Apennines. Among the Castellieri in the area we should also include those of Monte Il Cerchio, Monte Martano, San Pietro in Monte, Monte Schignano and M. Capoccia Pelata.


Martani Mountains

The Martani Mountains extend evenly from south to north for about 35 km between the provinces of Perugia and Terni. They border to the east on the Umbrian Valley and Valserra, to the west on the valley of the Tiber and that of the Naia and to the south on the Terni basin with the Nera River. The chain of Martani Mountains is surrounded by important cities and historical centers: Montefalco and Foligno to the north, Spoleto to the east, Todi, Acquasparta and Sangemini to the west and Terni to the south. There are also numerous ancient finds and archaeological sites. The most important is Carsulae.
The tops of Martani Mountains are mostly rounded and covered with grass. The main are (from N to S): Monte Martano (1094 m) - Monte Capoccia Pelata (1054 m) - Monte Forzano (1086 m) – Cima Panco (1013 m) - Torre Maggiore (1121 m) - Monte Torricella (1054 m). The vegetation predominantly consists of oak and, in higher areas, beech. The Martani are full of caves, sinkholes and water erosion inside the sinkholes. The Martani are part of the Umbria-Marche Apennine: they are a well-defined geomorphological and lithological entity described as a system of folds and thrust faults arranged to form an arc in eastern convexity. The summit areas emerge micritic limestones: you are placed in an environment of pelagic sedimentation from the Lower Jurassic, ie from 190 million years ago. Along the ridge one can observe interesting karst morphotypes, formed by the corrosive action of rainwater on limestone, such as sinkholes, diffusely present along the chain (The Tifene, Corva of Mezzanelli, Pozzale, etc..), to the west of the same and karst plains such as Casetta San Severo. Near the summit of Monte Martano a strong humanization altered the mountain landscape. In this place, considered strategic for position, exposure and altitude, a considerable number of radio and television repeaters  were placed.


The Flaminia way

An ancient Roman road that passed through Umbria, from Otricoli to Scheggia, the Via Flaminia was used both as a trade and a military route. It connected Rome to the Adriatic Sea, passing through the Apennines. Bridges and substructures carried it over rivers and uneven ground, an outstanding engineering feat that facilitated the Romanization of Umbria. But the impact of this superb work went further. It also spurred a unifying tendency, leading the Umbrian populations to abandon the ancient schemes based on a village-centered culture in the name of a different use of the territory and a new cultural belonging. The consular road, (the first of the Roman Viae publicae to the North) made by the censor Caio Flaminio in 220 BC, connected Rome to the Adriatic ports and Northern Italy, going in its original route from Narnia to Mevania, on the western foothills of the Monti Martani.

The road was built using and adapting previous routes that Umbrians used for transhumance and travels. It was eighteen Roman miles from Narnia to the Statio ad Martis, near the church of Santa Maria in Pantano: the Vicus Martis, solidly attested in many Roman inscriptions found in the area.

From the third century this first route of the Via Flaminia began to be subject to variations, made for economic purposes, which led to Terni, Spoleto and Forum Flaminii, (near the present Foligno).

The two paths forked at the beginning of the Martani mountains after the Flaminia vetus crossed Carsulae and reached, after the Statio ad Martis, the Vicus ad Martis (Today Massa Martana). The life and prosperity of the Vicus Martis were closely tied to the fate of the Flaminia as proved by several epigraphic and archaeological remains.

There are wo interesting epigraphies about the restoration of the route: the first refers to the Emperor Antonino Pio, the latter, preserved under the arch of the city door of Massa Martana, is by Emperor Adriano and was found near the ruined church of San Giacomo, along the Via Flaminia

After the fall of Roman Empire the western route of the Via Flaminia was abandoned and decayed, but the area was not excluded from transit because it was between the new path and the Via Amerina. In the early Middle Age it was an important road of connection between Rome and Ravenna, as shown by the ruins of Montecastro, probably a temple related to an Umbrian cult and later become a castrum in defense of the underlying Via Flaminia. Many materials were reused throughout the area: numerous columbaria remained unknown for a long time and the Romanesque churches built over pagan temples dedicated to the gods Apollo, Ceres, Mercury and Mars. The latter took its name from the nearby mountains and the surrounding area, rich of brick and pottery fragments which continually come to light during farm work.


Le Terre Arnolfe

The Terre Arnolfe identify a historical division of Umbria located between Martani mountains and Montecastrilli, Acquasparta, Avigliano Umbro. The ancient capital was Cesi (TR) and the name “Terre Arnolfe”  comes from the descendants of Arnolfo. He became a vassal of the church and the feudal lords of this land, that was named after him.    


“Terre Arnolfe”  passed from being under control of the emperor Henry II (the last king of Germany) to the Church. Pope Innocent III in 1199 appointed there the first Rector, the cleric Roberto Malvano, directly subject to the Apostolic See. Many castles in the area of Terre Arnolfe passed under the powerful city of Todi by the end of the Middle Age.


Monte Castro

The summit of Monte Castro is characterized  by juniper and secondary grasslands; during the spring many species of small orchids dots the ground of bright colors. Along the flank is possible to see a natural wonder of this land: forests of oak dominate the south-western flank of the mountain while the flanks facing north-east are covered with a beech wood (some specimens are here p of considerable size and age).  



Ponte Fonnaia

Near the Massa Martana train station, in a place remained unchanged and easily accessible on foot, is a completely intact Roman bridge built with perfectly squared massive blocks of travertine in a single arch. It granted passage on the ancient Via Flaminia over the Fonnaia river. The Fonnaia bridge hasn't changed since the restoration of the Augustan period (27 AD), is 15 m long, 8 m high, with a single circular arch of 3.5, has a lower slanting surface so that the road above can maintain its geometric axis. On the inner surface of the arch the blocks are disposed in even rows, and marked by letters and numbers that indicate the quarry.

Torre Lorenzetta

The village of Torre Lorenzetta was an important fortified center under the Villa San Faustino parish until 1806, when it joined Colpetrazzo. It was once called Poggio di S. Martino, and only by the 15th century took the name of the owner Lorenzo di Giovanni Covitti, changing it to Torre (Tower) Lorenzetta. Although partially altered, the village still retains some of the original buildings.


Vicus Martis Tudertium

In 2008, with the permission of the Ministry of Culture and under the supervision of the Archaeological Superintendence of Umbria ( Dr.. Paolo Bruschetti)§, the first investigation started, conducted by a group of American students from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, led by Professor John Muccigrosso and assisted by a team of archaeologists of the Intrageo of Todi. The digging brought to light a number of buildings with the outer walls in an excellent state of preservation, proving the existence of the vicus (residential facility, small structures often located around key communication hubs) which size covered an area of approximately seven hectares. The site of the Vicus ad Martis Tudertium is located on the western branch of the ancient Via Flaminia. The site’s name can be found in several ancient itineraries, including the 1st century Itinerarium Gaditanum, the 3rd century Antonine Itinerary, and the medieval Tabula Peutingeriana. Although today there is nothing above ground to mark the ancient site apart from the church of S. Maria in Pantano, built partly on an existing ancient building, several inscriptions suggested the identification of this site with the Vicus, including two embedded in the church tower and a third in use as part of the modern altar. Although we have performed some remote sensing beyond the immediate area of excavation, our digging has been so far confined to an area just north of the church, east of a modern road which runs roughly N-S and has been identified as following the course of the Via Flaminia.

Curiosity: To be remembered that the stations along the Roman roads were of three types: civitas, mansiones and mutationes. In the latter were the iunctores jumentarii for the changing of horses.

In the Vicus Martano remains a rare inscription that documenting the existence of a collegium jumentarii.

Appuntamento di prova
Sagra della Polenta


The Via Flaminia Vetus…between Rome and the Middle Ages
Km 6,5 – itinerary feasible by bicycle or motor vehicle. This is the itinerary that best describes Massa Martana and its peculiarities. It covers the area south of the village and follows the ancie
Geo-Tourism in the Martana area
19 km - itinerary feasible by bicycle or motor vehicle  The itinerary is focused on the geology of the mountains around Massa Martana but also allows the visitor to appreciate natur [...]
Castles hopping….history and legends
9,2 Km – itinerary feasible by bicycle or motor vehicle. The tour begins with a visit to the historic center of M [...]


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