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 [...]

An itinerary through silence around the Martana area

14  km - itinerary feasible by bicycle or motor vehicle.

This itinerary proposes to the visitors a unique historical and artistic perspective on the Martana area. It begins from the historical old town of Massa Martana and continues on the hills north of the village. Along the path it is possible to spot and visit various monuments that during the Middle Ages represented the focal centers for the ecclesiastic power that ruled the region. In the old town the buildings are made of local limestone and delimit the typical narrow medieval alleys. Getting out of the walls of Massa Martana and heading south,  the itinerary follows the main road in the direction of  Todi. The first stop is the ancient Monastery of San Pietro sopra le Acque, interesting ecclesiastic complex immersed in a beautiful landscape, today transformed in a Relais hotel. The itinerary continues then along the main road towards Todi; once arrived in Cimacolle, follow the directions for Viepri, and after 1 km, you will reach on the right of the road the Abbey dei Santi Fidenzio e Terenzio. The building is almost hidden by the vegetation and by a beautiful vineyard; the property is private and can be visited upon request. The Abbey was home to a community of Benedictine monks until the XIV century and represented an important church in the region; within its dependencies could be counted many churches, hamlets and castles. The itinerary continue along the same  provincial road for about 1,9 km then it takes a right turn towards Castel Rinaldi. the village was a fief of the Arnolfi family and still preserves the city walls and the ancient church of San Sebastiano. Once left Castel Rinaldi the will travel back to Massa Martana, making a stop at the Church of Santa Maria della Pace, a Renaissance building of great value.



Insights: Itinerary 3



Curiosity San Felice is lived at the time of the emperors Diocleziano and Massimiano (promoters of terrible crusades against Christians). San Felice was asked to renounce his faith from the imperial prefect Tarquinius. San Felice didn’t convinced and was sentenced to terrible martyrdom: the gridiron. He escaped unscathed and was immersed in boiling pitch but again survived. Since San Felice never died, he was beheaded. After this the saint's body was stolen by the Christian community. Today part of his remains are preserved in the crypt of the Romanesque Abbey of San Felice, located few kilometers northern from Massa Martana.


In this Abbey was kept a famous medieval altar with the martyrdom of the saint that today is at the National Gallery of Umbria in Perugia. The valuable painting on wood of the twelfth century show Byzantine influence, and has been attributed to an anonymous artist called “Maestro di San Felice”.



 La chiesa di San Pietro sopra le acque, sorge poco fuori il borgo di Massa Martana,  in un luogo di grande fascino, in un contesto naturalistico privilegiato: la chiesa e il convento,circondati da un giardino rigoglioso, sono di origine molto antica;  la prima notizia, infatti, risale probabilmente al 1275. Oggi il complesso appare in una veste molto diversa, mostrando affreschi e decorazioni tardo rinascimentali e barocche; lavori di restauro vennero infatti avviati dal cardinale Marcello Lante nel 1608, e modificarono la struttura originale del complesso, arricchendola di decorazioni parietali e arredi. Accoglie il visitatore un semplice portico ornato di affreschi del XVII secolo; l’interno, barocco, trasformato in struttura ricettiva, conserva un pregevole coro ligneo, alcuni dipinti del XV sec. e diverse opere di Andrea Polinori, pittore todino del seicento: la Vocazione di Pietro ed Andrea, San Francesco e Sant'Antonio da Padova; San Francesco riceve le stimmate.



It is believed that, in the 11th century, the nobles of Massa wanted the abbey of SS Fidenzio and Terenzio to be erected. The oldest building, however, dates back to the 9th or 10th century, when a community of Benedictine monks established itself in the next monastery, and governed the abbey until the end of the 14th century. It was an important parish church, having many churches and castles under it.

The tithes registers show that in 1276 six monks lived there, ruled by a certain abbot Pietro. Afterwards the secular clergy replaced the Benedictine monks.

The church is named after the martyrs Fidenzio and Terenzio who, natives of Syria, left from Rome to spread the Christian religion. As they came to the territory of Todi, at the time of the Emperor Diocletian, they were taken prisoner and martyrized "in CivitateMartana, Tudertoproxima". Their corpses were then secretly buried in that very place where the church now stands. Long before, however, on their tomb an oratorium was probably erected, as shown by an inscription on a stone of the crypt: "BeatusFidentius et Terentius hic requiescunt", whose characters might be ascribed to the 7th, 8th centuries. Their remains were exhumed in 1629 by the cardinal Boncompagni and then transferred to Bassano di Orte.

During the 13th century the church underwent substantial restorations, which eventually gave it its present look. 

The façade is made of squared stones in white and red rows; it has a simple portal with a round arch. Above it is a mullioned window with two lights with a small stone column.

On the left side there is a slender, quadrangular belltower, founded on a dodecagonal base made of big travertin blocks. The base has a large dome vault. It is probably a Roman mausoleum of the late Imperial Age.

The grand inside has a beautiful ceiling with decorated tiles, supported by Gothic arcades. A little further on the middle of the nave, a large flight of steps lets in a raised presbytery. In the middle is an ancient altar, made of a slab of travertin covering the martyrs‘ sarcophagus, adorned with four small corner columns of stone

The back wall has three, tall splayed windows and is very interesting for the several sculptural pieces from the early Middle Ages reutilized for its reconstruction. The bas-reliefs having an unknown date and original function, represent twice-rutted skeins, several floral patterns, rough human and equestrian forms, and a set of architectural patterns.

In the apsidal area is a piece of fresco representing a Madonna with Child, attributed to Bartolomeo da Miranda.

On both sides of the stairs are two narrow passages to the crypt.

Over the left passage is an ambo made of two big slabs of engraved marmor: on the outward slab is a knotted squares pattern, filled with flowers, grapes, helixes and lilied apexes, on the other one is a twice-rutted ribbon shaping big loosen knots, a pattern that, also for its irregular shape, can be traced back to the 9th century.

Curiosity: San Benedetto was born in Norcia around 480 AD, in a historical period characterized by invasions, wars and destruction. He moved to Rome to complete his studies, and he saw the decadence of the Eternal City and, horrified, he withdrew into the silence of the woods of the upper Aniene valley.

The solitary life, devoted to prayer and penance, surprise the community of the area and the monks of Vicovaro proposed to Benedetto to join them.

Shortly the moral rigor and the iron discipline of Benedetto arouse envy of his companions who tried to poison him.

Disappointed by the behavior moved to Subiaco where he became the spiritual leader of a small monastery which was organized by him in a new form of monastic life.

Due to some misunderstandings with his disciples, he left Subiaco and move to Cassino. Here in 529 founded the monastery of Monte Cassino. He composed “La Regola”, a complex document with a prologue and seventy-three chapters, destined to become the benchmark of Western monasticism and to be adopted by all European monasteries.

In the famous sentence ora et labora condenses the Benedictine message that combined two aspects of human life, the spiritual and the material. Punctuated by alternating between prayer and work, the existence of the monks, by virtue of stabilitas loci, was to take place within the walls of the monastery.

The Benedictines carried out an intense activity of assistance and development to populations: reclaiming swamps, clearing forests, cultivating the land.

A big contribution was due to the Benedictines in the cultural sphere: in the monasteries there was also responsible for transcription of old books, often accompanied by precious miniatures. Benedetto died at Monte Cassino around 547. Pope Paolo VI, in 1964, proclaimed him the saint of Europe.

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 marked the territory in the Middle Age. In 1311 it was attacked by the Todi Ghibellines which forced it to submission. In the fifteenth century it passed under the rule of the powerful Atti family of Todi. The castle was built on a very instable slope. Indeed, around the first half of 1400 it was damaged by some landslides that greatly reduced the size of the castle. Pope Clemente VII stopped at Castel Rinaldi while he was traveling  Umbria in 1532. Near the castle is located a pagan necropolis covered in greenery and difficult to access.


Curiosity: The deep religiosity of the population is demonstrated, as stated in a document of 1700, the presence of some burial grounds: "... «…si veggono alcune grotte. Una delle quali era un sepolcreto o un colombario con molte piccole nicchie per le olle cinerarie divise in vari ordini sino a sette l’una sopra l’altra.». (Nessi S., Ceccaroni S., 1978, p.58).  These structures, discovered in substantial numbers on the cliffs that border the Via Flaminia and the stream of Massa Martana, consist of underground rooms of probable funerary use, carved into the rock. They have rows of small niches on the walls, of 20-25 cm. of side and 30 cm deep., and differently shaped according to the location.

They are dated between the second century BC and third centuries A.D.

In Castel Rinaldi columbarium niches are perfectly aligned and have the top slightly arched.

In other columbaria, especially those of the cliff of Massa Martana, the niches are arranged in a checkerboard and are rectangular shape while inside widen with a slight splay of a truncated pyramid.

Today 18 sites have been recognized in different locations (Massa Martana, Caciaro, Ponte and Castel Rinaldi), almost all of the same size: 8-10 meters long, 3-4 meters in height. This sites are difficult to reach because they are covered by vegetation or recovered by sediments.

Probably in the Middle Ages, were used by the inhabitants of Massa Martana, for the breeding of pigeons, as witnessed, for example in Orvieto.

Curiosity: Very close in 1839 was found a funerary “stele” bilingual along the ancient route of the Via Flaminia.

The “stele” is engraved on both sides with inscriptions in Latin and Celtic and refers to the funerary monument of Ategnatus son of Drutus. Now is preserved in the Etruscan Gregorian Museum.


Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pace 

The church Santa Maria della Pace was edified in the 16th century round one of the many "mestare" which lined, and still line near the crossings, the most important way of the territory of Massa: the Roman Way that, at the time, followed the lay-out of the ancient consular Flaminia Way and connected Massa with Rome and Foligno.

The sacred image in the shrine around which the church was built, represents the Madonna feeding the Child between St John and St James. It was painted by the Umbrian painter Bartolomeo da Miranda within the first half of the 15th century.

The works began on 8th March 1521 and went on, with changing circumstances, until 1589. That year the church, whose essential architectonical structures had already been built, was donated by the town council of Massa to the fathers of the Third Regular Order of St Francis.

The Franciscans made at once some changes on the church, that, at that time, stood isoIated on the side of the Roman way. It had an octagonal plan up to the second cornice, on which was a gabled roof. Between 1595 and 1598 a cupola was built in the place of the roof; later, in 1623, it was covered with a base. Meanwhile the construction of the new monastery, which begun in 1604 and lasted until 1647, made it necessary to the friars to move the main altar to another place. One of the eight walls of the building was torn down in order to build the main chapel and the choir, completed in 1630. The following year the 15th century-painting was moved from its original place, at present the altar of Sant’ Antonio da Padova, to the main chapel.

The side altars were set into place, too, and decorated with paintings commissioned to the painter PalminioAlvi. Worth noting is, among them, that representing St Francis handing the belt over to the Third Order.

The embellishment of the church culminated as the cupola was frescoed by Giovanni Antonio Polinori, between 1647 and 1649, with Scriptures from the Old and New Testaments.

Curiosity: The frontals covering the lateral altars were made with canary seed as it was popular in 1700. It is a particularly interesting and rare type of artifacts in Umbria. It was called "the marble of the poor", and used to simulate marble. It was used mostly for the construction of altar panels, because the result was of great scenic effect. The creative ideas in these works are many, as evidenced by the case of Massa Martana.  The variety and combination of colors (arabesques, flowers, and birds of all kinds) contributed to the triumph of Christianism. Similar altar frontals can be found in the Church of San Francesco in Giano dell'Umbria.



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Country House
holiday home