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 [...]

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 Massa Martana (see Itinerary 3) and  then continues along a section of the "Vecchia Flaminia" road. Here you can visit the church of  Santa Maria delle Grazie, after having passed the church of Santa Maria in Pantano (see itinerary 1 for more detail about this monument). This route runs along the western foothills of the Monti Martani and its characterized by a typical Mediterranean vegetation that here reaches its more internal range in this region. Some medieval fortified villages are scattered across this valuable natural environment in correspondence of the ancient the border between the Terre Arnolfe (Mezzanelli) and the Todi area. From Santa Maria in Pantano, the itinerary continues southward on the main road till the village of Colpetrazzo. From Colpetrazzo through an extremely suggestive route, you can reach Torre Lorenzetta and its Romanesque church of San Sebastiano.  Back to Colpetrazzo, the itineary traverse the original medieval urban layout, and goes through the village's gates decorated with the "tuderte" eagle, emblem of Todi . The  itinerary finally reaches Mezzanelli, a little village located in a strategic position on the slope of the mountain Monte il Cerchio. Above the village on top of the highest part of the hill the ruins of the medieval fortress can still be visited.  Monte il Cerchio is an important site covered by a thick vegetation  characteristic of  the Mediterranean area (Holm, Boxwood, Arbutus, flowering ash, hornbeam, oaks and Juniper).





Insights: Itinerary 2

Santa Maria delle Grazie

The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is near the ancient route of the Via Flaminia. The current structure (end of XV century) was erected on a preexisting one, as suggested by numerous architectural materials of 1200. The façade has a rectangular shape, made of stones of various sizes, with a bell tower. The interior has one nave and near the altar there is a painting of a Madonna and Child among angels by an anonymous artist known as Maestro dell'Incoronazione (1500). Interesting affrescoes of the Umbrian school are present (l'Adorazione dei Magi, l'Annunciazione, Cristo fra gli Apostoli, la Morte della Madonna, S. Francesco e altri Santi). A valuable wooden statue of S. Antonio Abate (1484) was exhibited in the church. After a restoration it was moved to the Church of San Felice .

Curiosity: The veneration of Sant’ Antonio Abate is widespread in areas devoted to agriculture as Massa Martana area. According to hagiographical sources, Antonio, was born in Coma in Egypt, (about 251 a.C.), from rich Christian farmers. He is considered a hermit among the most rigorous: despite his rich origin he was uninterested in the flattery and luxury of the worldly life: Antonio preferred the work and meditation rather than participate in celebrations and banquets. On the death of his parents distributed all richness to the poor. He withdrew into the wilderness and began his life as a penitent.

He spent many years struggling against the temptations of the devil, living in an ancient rock-hewn tomb. The devil often appeared to him to show what he could do with his richness. The devil showed to him through the shape of a ferocious beast, especially pork (That is the reason he is often depicted with a pig). To these provocations Antonio responded with any kind of fasting and penance always succeeding in resist.

Antonio was very long-lived: he died at the age of 105 years (17 January 355) in his hermitage on Mount Qolzoum.

The rituals that take place every year at the feast of St. Antonio are ancient and closely related to the rural life. Antonio Abate is a true "Saint" of the people: he is considered the protector against epidemics of humans and animals.

He is the protector of the cattle and his effigy was placed on the door of the stables: many examples of this practice are found also in the area of Massa Martana.

The Saint is also invoked to ward off the fire: his name is linked to a form of herpes known as "shingles" or "sacred fire."


Santa Maria in Pantano

Worth noting are also the frescos on the walls (photographs 1, 2). On the left one are some fragments of frescos and a beautiful wooden Crucifix from the 13th century; on the first column is a sinopia which represents a Saint who is holding a papyrus; over the altar in the right aisle a painting which represents Madonna with Child between St Barbara and St Anthony Abbot (photographs 3, 4) from the 15th century, by Niccolò di Vannuccio; on the back wall is a fresco which portrays St Anthony Abbot, St Peter, St Fortunato e St Onofrio (photographs 5, 6) form the 14th century; in the middle of the apse is a Madonna with Child (14th-15th century). The figures of St Felix and St Benedict were subsequently added to the painting. On the left is a Crucifixion with St Severo and St Francis (17th century). On the right-hand side of the façade, next to a tall Roman wall, rises a square tower with medieval, small arches crowning from the 14th century.

Curiosity: To the left of the church, in the outside wall of the ex-monastery, is a Roman funeral urn embeded in the wall, with a bas-relief which represents Iphigenia's sacrifice: on the left is a naked, male figure who is pulling another figure towards him. This one is wearing a himation on his head and maybe represents Agamennon. There are also a tree, a man holding a smaller figure by the hair who is trying to flee (this may represent Iphigenia), an altar with symbols and three warriers armed with spears. It should be noted that the tower and the façade of the church of Santa Maria in Pantano are not in line with the modern road but with the right one, which follows the route of the ancient Flaminia Way.

Curiosity: Not far from here, along the ancient Via Flaminia, there is a large funerary monument of the Roman. Repeated illegal excavations are a problem, and the monument consists only in a central block in concrete. The mausoleum is linked to an ancient legend: there would be a hidden treasure consists of a cow with seven golden calves.

The legend is known in various localities of the area and makes this place full of mystery and charm. This is also the cause of many unauthorized excavations. Near the mausoleum was found a second tomb consists of[FL1]  entire base of large blocks of travertine.


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.

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.




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.



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 situated the ancient hall of the Confraternita del Santissimo Sacramento decorated entirely with a precious cycle of votive frescoes of the 15th and 16th centuries. The church of Santi Giuseppe e Bernardino located outside the castle walls is the actual parish church with some paintings of 1600 attributable to Umbrian painters of the time. The church of Santi Giuseppe e Bernardino was built in the 16th century to replace the oldest church of San Bernardino.





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, Guillelmus, Hugolino, Tebaldo e Bulgarello ceded part of Mezzanelli to abbot Beraldo of Farfa). It later belonged to the Earls of Baschi, then a part passed under the dominion of the Cesi Dukes.

The strategically situated castle was repeatedly attacked by Spoleto and Todi during the conflicts between Guelphs and Ghibellines. It was subsequently destroyed in 1447 and in 1451. In 1467 it was restored with the help of all the inhabitants, who taxed themselves. In 1500 the troops of Pope Alexander VI attacked Mezzanelli and destroyed the fortress.

The remains of the fortress are a stone tower and the perimeter walls. They can be reached by a pleasant walk that goes from the village to the top of the hill.  The church of San Filippo e San Giacomo is in the highest part of the village and preserves a valuable fresco depicting Our Lady of the Rosary.


Holm oak: (Quercus ilex L.1753) is a plant of the family Fagaceae, widespread in the countries of the Mediterranean basin.

The holm oak is generally an evergreen tree with a rarely straight trunk, single or divided at the base, up to a height of 20-25 meters. It can have a bushy appearance when growing in rocky environments.

The bark is smooth and grey when young, but in time it becomes hard and dark, almost blackish, finely cracked in persistent chips almost square in shape.

The young branches are pubescent and grey, but after a short time become leafless and greenish-gray.The buds are small, rounded with a few bud scales.


Bosso: Genus Buxaceae, bushy evergreen shrub, compact branching trees with yellowish branches and wood. The plant is moderately poisonous, usually opposite petiolate or sessile leaves, elliptic, leathery green color more or less dark and shiny, small sessile monoecious flowers, the fruits are leathery capsules with few oblong seeds. It is found naturally on rocky, arid limestone also in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Corbezzolo: The strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo L., 1753) is a shrub or a small tree in the family Ericaceae. The fruits ripen during the year following the flowering, in the fall. The plant is then to bear simultaneously flowers and ripe fruit, which makes it a good ornamental tree for the presence of three vivid colors: red fruits, white flowers and green leaves.

Orniello: Fraxinus ornus is a plant of the family Oleaceae (known as Orniello or Ornos, also commonly called manna tree in the production areas of the manna) is a tree or shrub of 4-8 meters high, often reduced to a bush. The trunk is erect, slightly tortuous, with opposite branches ascending with smooth grayish bark, opaque, reddish tomentose buds, and the foliage is made up of large deciduous opposite leaves, imparipinnate, with 5-9 segments (most often 7), whose side measure 5-10 cm, of elliptical or lanceolate appearance, briefly picciolati and one-third of their length wide

The hornbeam: (Ostrya carpinifolia) is a tree of the family Betulaceae. The hornbeam has straight trunk and dense foliage, a bit elongated. Its leaves are oval-shaped, elongated and with the serrated edge, the prime rib is very evident. The fruits are achenes, a bunch of white / green colour. In Italy the hornbeam is located in the middle ranges of hills in sunny positions on average.

The Quercus cerris L. is a deciduous tree belonging to the family Fagaceae. It is a species that tends to develop a crown up to a height of 30-35 m. The oak has dark green leaves with deep lobes from the edge. The trunk has brownish-gray bark with deep reddish grooves. The fruits are acorns of about 2.5 cm in length, characterized by the "cap", partially covered with a “curly hair” of pale yellow.



The Downy Oak: (Quercus pubescens Willd. 1805) is the most widespread species of oak in Italy, so much so that in many places is simply called oak. Belongs to the family Fagaceae. It's resistant to drought and easily recognizable in the winter as it keeps the dry leaves attached to the branches unlike the other species of oak. The main diagnostic character to identify the species is to touch the leaves or buds: they are covered with fine hair that you can easily appreciate. Generally some oak trees were left along the property boundaries so that it's possible in some cases to reconstruct those boundaries by examining the presence of large specimens of the species.




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 [...]
Monte Martano Trekking
The route is accessible on foot or by bike and is located along the ridge of the Monti Martani. Starting Point is the leisure area of Acqua Canale indicated as a interess in the route map. Continue to
Historical and artistic buildings not included in the itineraries
Chiesa di Sant’illuminata


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