Montignano
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 [...]
Colpetrazzo
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 [...]
Mezzanelli
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 [...]
Viepri
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 [...]
Castelvecchio
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 [...]

Andar per Castelli….tra storia e leggenda (2)

9,2 Km – Itinerario fruibile in auto e in bici

Il percorso inizia con la visita del centro storico di Massa Martana, (Itinerario n° 3 : Un itinerario del silenzio nell’area Martana), da qui,  costeggiando un tratto della vecchia Flaminia, dove sorge la Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie, si raggiunge la Chiesa di Santa Maria in Pantano, situata lungo il tracciato della Via Flaminia, nel luogo dell’antico Vicus Martis Tudertium, (del quale sono emerse numerose testimonianze durante recenti scavi archeologici condotti da un’equipe statunitense, in corso dal 2008), divenuta poifulcro religioso nel periodo medioevale, si presenta oggi nella sua veste romanica. Questo itinerario percorre la fascia pedemontana occidentale dei Monti Martani, caratterizzata da vegetazione tipica della vera macchia mediterranea, che raggiunge in questa zona il suo areale più interno. In questo ambiente naturalistico di pregio, si trovano alcuni borghi medioevali fortificati, confine tra Le Terre Arnolfe (Mezzanelli) e l’area Tuderte.  Dall’Abbazia di Santa Maria in Pantano, si prosegue in direzione sud la statale fino a raggiungere il bivio per Colpetrazzo; da qui il percorso, molto suggestivo, permette di raggiungere Torre Lorenzetta, con la pieve romanica di San Sebastiano; Colpetrazzo, che mantiene la sua conformazione urbanistica medioevale, e a dominio di una delle porte del borgo, l’aquila tuderte, emblema del Comune di Todi. Si raggiunge, infine Mezzanelli, situato in posizione strategica, come dimostrano i ruderi della Rocca medioevale, nella parte più alta del colle, lungo le pendici di Monte il Cerchio. Quest’ultimo, Sito di Importanza Comunitaria, denominato “Monte il Cerchio”, è caratterizzato da una vegetazione tipica della Macchia Mediterranea e di bosco ceduo (Leccio, Bosso, Corbezzolo, Orniello, Carpino nero, Roverella, Cerro e Ginepro).

 

RAGGIUNGI L'ITINERARIO

 

APPROFONDIMENTI Itinerario n 2

 

Santa Maria delle Grazie

La chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie sorge ancora una volta in prossimità dell’antico tracciato della Via Flaminia. La struttura attuale, che risale alla fine del '400 fu realizzata, sfruttando un preesistente edificio come suggeriscono numerosi materiali architettonici del 1200, riutilizzati nella costruzione attuale.
La facciata attuale che si affaccia sull’antico tracciato della Via Flaminia, mostra una struttura rettangolare, in pietre di varie dimensioni, con un raffinato oculo ed un campanile a vela.
L'interno, ad una sola navata, presenta sull'altare la Madonna con il Bambino fra angeli, opera di un maestro anonimo chiamato Maestro dell'Incoronazione della prima metà del XV sec., nella tribuna, invece sono conservati interessanti affreschi di scuola umbra della prima meta del '500:  l'Adorazione dei Magi, l'Annunciazione, Cristo fra gli Apostoli, la Morte della Madonna, S. Francesco e altri Santi. Era conservata qui, inoltre, una preziosa statua lignea di Sant'Antonio Abate, risalente al 1484; la statua è stata restaurata e si trova oggi nella Chiesa di San Felice.

Curiosità: Il culto di S. Antonio Abate è molto diffuso in Umbria, soprattutto in zone a vocazione agricola, come l’area di Massa Martana. Secondo fonti agiografiche, Sant’Antonio, nacque a Coma in Egitto, intorno al 251, da ricchi agricoltori cristiani. E’ considerato un eremita tra i più rigorosi nella storia del Cristianesimo antico: malgrado appartenesse ad una famiglia piuttosto agiata, mostrò sin da giovane poco interesse per le lusinghe e per il lusso della vita mondana: alle feste ed ai banchetti infatti preferiva il lavoro e la meditazione e alla morte dei genitori distribuì tutte le sue sostanze ai poveri, si ritirò nel deserto e li cominciò la sua vita di penitente.
Compiuta la sua scelta di vivere come eremita, trascorse molti anni vivendo in un'antica tomba scavata nella roccia, lottando contro le tentazioni del demonio, che molto spesso gli appariva per mostrargli quello che avrebbe potuto fare se foste rimasto nel mondo. A volte il diavolo si mostrava sotto forma di bestia feroce - soprattutto di porco - allo scopo di spaventarlo, ma a queste provocazioni Antonio rispondeva con digiuni e penitenze di ogni genere, riuscendo sempre a trionfare. Ecco perché lo troviamo spesso raffigurato con un maialino. 
Malgrado conducesse una vita dura e piena di privazioni, Antonio fu molto longevo: la morte lo colse infatti all'età di 105 anni, il 17 Gennaio del 355, nel suo eremo sul monte Qolzoum.
I riti che si compiono ogni anno in occasione della festa di S. Antonio sono antichissimi e legati strettamente alla vita contadina e fanno di Antonio Abate un vero e proprio "santo" del popolo.
Egli è considerato il protettore contro le epidemie di certe malattie, sia dell'uomo, sia degli animali. E' stato invocato come protettore del bestiame e la sua effigie era collocata sulla porta delle stalle, molti esempi di questa pratica si trovano anche nella zona di Massa Martana.
Il Santo è invocato anche per scongiurare gli incendi, e non a caso il suo nome è legato ad una forma di herpes nota come "fuoco di Sant'Antonio" o "fuoco sacro".

Santa Maria in Pantano Secondo una leggenda locale, la chiesa è stata edificata, nel V secolo dal magister militum Severo sui ruderi di un edificio o di un tempio pagano della Civitas Martana. Il basamento della chiesa, infatti risale, probabilmente ad un edificio tardo imperiale, del quale sono visibili le murature laterali in opus reticulatum con parti di mattoni, nella fiancata destra della chiesa. Molto più probabilmente la chiesa fu edificata ad unica, grande aula absidata tra il VII e il VIII secolo, aggiungendo all'edificio romano la parte presbiteriale e absidale, leggermente sopraelevate e con le murature in opus spicatum. Di notevole interesse architettonico è l'abside, scandita esternamente da ampie arcate che richiamano motivi in uso nell’area veneta. Annesso alla chiesa fu poi costruito un monastero, gestito dai monaci benedettini che bonificarono e resero fertile la località, spesso inondata dal torrente Tribbio, come chiaramente indica il toponimo in pantano. Alcuni documenti attestano che la  chiesa era alle dipendenze del monastero di Farfa, quindi ebbe sicuramente un ruolo politico notevole nell’area martana. La facciata della chiesa non è allineata con la strada moderna, bensì con il vecchio tracciato della Via Flaminia che corre più a destra; è arricchita da un portale ad arco acuto, in conci alternati bianchi e rossi con cornice marmorea, ed un semplice rosone che ne abbellisce la semplice struttura rettangolare. L’interno, molto sobrio, diviso in 3 navate da poderose colonne e capitelli di vario tipo;  conserva ancora frammenti di affreschi medioevali di scuola locale. Si possono ammirare urne cinerarie, frammenti decorativi romani e numerose iscrizioni. Notevoli il grande capitello corinzio riutilizzato come sostegno dell'ultima arcata di destra; i frammenti dell'antico pavimento a mosaico e ad opus spicatum, ritrovati in recenti lavori di restauro e il grande cippo con l'iscrizione che ricorda i Vicani Vici Martis riutilizzato come base per l'altare maggiore. Tra gli affreschi, quasi tutti di scuola locale, si segnalano quello sull'altare della navata destra Madonna con il Bambino tra Santa Barbara e Sant'Antonio Abate del XV secolo, opera di Niccolò di Vannuccio; sulla parete posteriore un affresco con raffigurati Sant'Antonio Abate, San Pietro, San Fortunato e Sant'Onofrio del XIV secolo; al centro dell'abside Madonna con il Bambino (sec. XIV-XV), al quale furono aggiunti posteriormente San Felice e San Benedetto. Sulla sinistra una Crocifissione con San Severo e San Francesco (sec. XVII). Uscendo dalla chiesa, merita un veloce sguardo la torre quadrata con coronamento ad archetti medioevali del XIV secolo, che si innalza a dominio della valle.  Altra testimonianza dell’insediamento romano, è una cisterna, individuata nel 1997, nei sotterranei di un fabbricato rurale sito nei pressi di Santa Maria in Pantano.  Si tratta di un ambiente costituito da due cunicoli lunghi circa m. 15, larghi m. 2 e alti m.3, raccordati da un cunicolo trasversale più o meno delle stesse dimensioni.

Curiosità: se si osserva con attenzione il muro esterno dell'ex monastero, a sinistra della chiesa, si potrà notare, incastonata nel paramento murario e un po’ erosa dal tempo, un'urna funeraria romana, con un bassorilievo raffigurante il Sacrificio di Ifigenia, interessante iconografia diffusa all’epoca. Il mito racconta che i Greci erano radunati in Aulide da più di tre mesi, e per il persistere della bonaccia non si poteva salpare. Chiamarono l’indovino Calcante perchè gli dicesse che cosa si poteva fare. L’indovino gli ricordò che alcuni anni prima aveva offeso gravemente la dea Artemide: avendo trafitto con un bel colpo un cervo, si era vantato d'essere un cacciatore più bravo della dea stessa della caccia. E ora Artemide pretendeva, se si voleva far partire la flotta, che Agamennone le sacrificasse sull'altare la propria figlia Ifigenia. Bisognò far venire da Micene la bella Ifigenia: mentre il sacerdote immergeva già il coltello nel petto di ifigenia, l'altare venne circondato da una densa nebbia, e, quando questa si ritirò, invece del corpo insanguinato della giovinetta, sull’altare si trovo’ il corpo insanguinato di una cerbiatta. Artemide aveva avuto pietà dell'intrepida ragazza e l'aveva sostituita con la cerbiatta, portando via ifigenia viva in Tauride, dove il re del luogo, Toante, la fece sacerdotessa della dea che l'aveva salvata. Ed ecco che subito sorse da terra un venticello che andò a mano a mano crescendo, e la flotta greca potè finalmente togliere gli ormeggi, spiegare le vele e salpare per la Troade.  Da sinistra, nel bassorilievo, si scorge una figura maschile nuda che tira a sé una figura con l'himation sul capo (forse Agamennone), poi un albero stilizzato, un uomo che tiene per i capelli una figura più piccola che fugge (forse Ifigenia), un'ara con dei simboli e tre guerrieri con lancia.

Curiosità: Poco distante da qui, seguendo il tracciato dell’antica Via Flaminia, in direzione Massa Martana, sorge un grande monumento funerario d’epoca romana, del quale resta soltanto l’ossatura centrale in calcestruzzo, a causa dei ripetuti scavi clandestini. Al Mausoleo infatti è legata un’antica leggenda, secondo la quale al suo interno sarebbe nascosto un prezioso tesoro composto da una mucca con sette vitelli d’oro, la leggenda è conosciuta in varie località della zona e rende questo luogo ricco di mistero e fascino, motivo per il quale molte volte è stata oggetto di scavi rocamboleschi! Nei pressi della costruzione è stata recentemente rimessa in luce una seconda tomba a edicola, della quale resta l’intero basamento in grossi blocchi di travertino.   

 

Vicus Martis Tudertium Intorno alla chiesa di S.Maria in Pantano, realizzata nei secoli VII-VIII  sfruttando un preesistente edificio romano del quale se ne conservano notevoli parti, si colloca il Vicus Martis Tudertium, attestato da numerose epigrafi provenienti da questa località e da identificare con la Statio ad Martis (stazione di posta) sulla Flaminia, ricordata nell’Itinerario dei vasi di Vicarello (I sec.), nell’Itinerario Antonino (II sec.) e nella Tabula Peutingeriana (V sec.); testimonianze certe della sua importanza per tutto il periodo imperiale; il vicus sorgeva presso una diramazione che collegava il percorso alla Via Amerina e quindi a Todi, costituendo un avamposto e uno scalo di Tuder sulla Flaminia, a cui infatti si richiama nel nome. Nonostante i numerosi indizi e ritrovamenti (da ricordare inoltre resti di un grande edificio a pianta rettangolare, con murature in opera quasi reticolata, inglobate nelle strutture della chiesa), l’area non è stata mai oggetto di indagini scientifiche. Nell’anno 2008, su concessione del Ministero dei Beni Culturali e sotto il controllo della Soprintendenza Archeologica dell’Umbria nella persona del dott. Paolo Bruschetti, sono iniziate le prime indagini, condotte da un gruppo di studenti americani della Drew University di Madison, New Jersey, guidati dal professor John Muccigrosso e coadiuvati dall’équipe di archeologi dell’impresa Intrageo di Todi. Le operazioni di scavo, hanno permesso di portare in luce una serie di edifici con un invidiabile stato di conservazione dei muri perimetrali, che dimostrano l’esistenza del vicus, (impianto abitativo, spesso di modesta entità situato intorno a snodi fondamentali di comunicazione) con dimensioni che coprono un’area di circa sette ettari. 

Curiosità: Da ricordare che le stazioni lungo le vie romane erano di tre tipi: le civitas, la mansiones e le mutationes: in queste ultime erano gli iunctores jumentarii per il cambio dei cavalli, e proprio nel vico Martano resta traccia di una rara epigrafe che documenta l’esistenza di un collegium jumentarii, corporazione destinata a questo  importante servizio.

 

Le Terre Arnolfe Con il termine Terre Arnolfe si designa una suddivisione storica dell'Umbria, localizzata prevalentemente sulle colline e sui monti Martani, nell’area tra Montecastrilli, Acquasparta, Avigliano Umbro. L'antica capitale era costituita dal paese di Cesi; il nome deriva dai discendenti di Arnolfo che divennero vassalli della chiesa e feudatari di questo territorio, che prese quindi da loro il nome di Terre Arnolfe: queste terre infatti passarono dalla dominazione imperiale, sotto l’imperatore Enrico II, ultimo re di Germania, alla Chiesa. Papa Innocenzo III nel 1199, vi nominò anche il primo Rettore, il chierico Roberto Malvano, direttamente soggetto alla Sede Apostolica. Molti castelli del territorio martano, furono per un periodo sotto la giurisdizione delle Terre Arnolfe, per poi passare, in molti casi, sotto il dominio del ben più potente Comune di Todi.

 

 

 

Torre Lorenzetta Il borgo di Torre Lorenzetta, fu centro fortificato importante dell’area martana, alle dipendenze della parrocchia di Villa San Faustino sino al 1806, quando fu aggregato a quella di Colpetrazzo.  Anticamente era chiamato Poggio di S. Martino, e solo dal XV secolo prese il nome del proprietario Lorenzo di Giovanni Covitti, cambiando nome in Torre Lorenzetto. Il borgo, anche se in parte modificato dal punto di vista urbanistico, mantiene ancora alcuni edifici originali: poco fuori dal centro abitato è di notevole interesse la la piccola chiesa di San
Sebastiano, risalente al XIII secolo, con graziosa abside. Ad una sola navata, ospita qualche affresco quattrocentesco di scuola locale: un San Sebastiano tra l'Annunciata e la Madonna col Bambino  e l'Angelo Annunciante con San Fortunato. La chiesa ha subito gravi danni in seguito al terremoto del maggio del 1997, è stata però restaurata e mostra oggi l’antico fascino romanico.

 

 



 

 

Colpetrazzo  Castello costruito tra la fine del 1300 ed i primi anni del 1400, conserva ancora intatta la sua struttura medioevale. Di notevole interesse la porta d’ingresso, oltre la quale si trova la piccola chiesa di San Bernardino, antica parrocchiale del castello. Sopra la chiesa di San Bernardino merita una visita l'antica sala della confraternita del Santissimo Sacramento interamente decorata con un prezioso ciclo di affreschi votivi del XV e XVI secolo. Appena fuori dalle mura castellane si trova la chiesa parrocchiale, dedicata ai Santi Giuseppe e Bernardino, edificata nel secolo XVI in sostituzione della più antica chiesa di San. Bernardino, ritenuta piccola e collocata in posizione scomoda per l'accesso dei fedeli; che conserva alcune tele del 1600 attribuibili a pittori umbri dell’epoca.

 

 

 

Mezzanelli  Il castello di Mezzanelli , che sorge in posizione strategica, ha seguito le sorti dei vari dominatori che ne hanno gestito la vita politica; un tempo parte del feudo degli Arnolfi, il castello è stato citato in alcuni documenti del 1115 e 1118 con i quali i conti Ridolfo, Saraceno, Guillelmus, Hugolino, Tebaldo e Bulgarello cedevano parte di Mezzanelli e di altri loro possedimenti all’abate Beraldo di Farfa. Appartenne poi ai conti di Baschi quindi passò in parte sotto il dominio dei duchi Cesi. Situato in posizione ottinale fu più volte assalito da Spoleto e da Todi nel corso delle lotte tra guelfi e ghibellini. Subì distruzioni nel 1447 e nel 1451. Nel 1467 fu restaurato con il concorso di tutti i suoi abitanti che per l’occasione si autotassarono. Nel 1500 circa fu nuovamente assalito dalle truppe del papa Alessandro VI che distrussero la rocca. Quest’ultima, rimane ancora a dominio del borgo, e conserva una vistosa torre in pietra e le mura perimetrali; si può raggiungere con una piacevole passeggiata che sale dal borgo fino alla cima del colle, dove, immersi in un contesto paesaggistico molto suggestivo, appaiono i resti della struttura fortificata.  Proprio nella parte più alta del borgo, si trova la chiesa parrocchiale di San Filippo e San Giacomo che conserva un pregevole affresco raffigurante la Madonna del Rosario.

Curiosità: Tra il X e l’XI secolo si diffuse in Europa un fenomeno nuovo e destinato ad avere conseguenze di grande portata: l’incastellamento. L’assenza di un forte potere centrale e le nuove invasioni di Saraceni, Normanni, Ungari, gettarono il vecchio continente in una situazione di profonda insicurezza. I centri abitati furono costretti a ripensare la loro forma e organizzazione, dotandosi di strumenti in grado di rispondere all’impellente necessità di difesa. I borghi furono fortificati e si trasformarono in castelli, da intendersi pertanto non come fortezze militari ma come luoghi dove viveva stabilmente una comunità di persone. L’elemento identificativo di un castello, che generalmente sorgeva in posizione elevata, erano innanzitutto le mura, in grado di raggiungere spessori di 2-3 metri. Alte e possenti, erano concluse alla sommità da camminamenti e dalla caratteristica merlatura che consiste in un’alternanza di pieni e vuoti funzionale ad assicurare la protezione dei soldati dagli attacchi degli arcieri. Le merlature si distinguono in ghibelline o imperiali, quelle che presentano sommità a coda di rondine, e guelfe o papali, quelle a corpi quadrati. Le mura, che oltre ad assicurare la difesa militare generavano un sentimento d’identità e unità collettiva, si arricchivano di possenti torri, la principale delle quali era il cosiddetto mastio. Altro elemento fondamentale di un castello erano i fossati che, circondando le mura, mantenevano il nemico a distanza; potevano essere superati tramite ponti fissi in muratura o ponti levatoi in legno, sollevati in caso di pericolo. La gente viveva all’interno del castello e, nel caso di realtà di particolarmente popolose, la struttura divenne più complessa sino a contemplare chiese e piazze.

Il leccio: (Quercus ilex L.1753) detto anche elce, è una pianta della famiglia delle Fagaceae, diffusa nei paesi del bacino del Mediterraneo.

l leccio è generalmente un albero sempreverde con fusto raramente dritto, singolo o diviso alla base, di altezza fino a 20-25 metri. Può assumere aspetto cespuglioso qualora cresca in ambienti rupestri.

La corteccia è liscia e grigia da giovane, col tempo diventa dura e scura quasi nerastra, finemente screpolata in piccole placche persistenti di forma quasi quadrata.

I giovani rami dell'anno sono pubescenti e grigi, ma dopo poco tempo diventano glabri e grigio- verdastri.

Le gemme sono piccole, tomentose, arrotondate con poche perule.

Il Bosso: genere delle Buxaceae, arbusto cespuglioso sempreverde, ramoso compatto con fusto rami e legno giallastro, pianta moderatamente velenosa, foglie generalmente opposte picciolate o sessili, ellissoidali, coriacee di colore verde più o meno scuro e lucente, fiori monoici piccoli sessili, i frutti sono capsule coriacee con pochi semi oblunghi. Si trova spontaneo in luoghi rocciosi, aridi anche calcarei, in Europa, Asia e Africa.

Corbezzolo: Il corbezzolo (Arbutus unedo L., 1753), detto anche albatro, è un cespuglio o un piccolo albero appartenente alla famiglia delle Ericaceae. I frutti maturano nell'anno successivo rispetto alla fioritura che dà loro origine, in autunno. La pianta si trova quindi a ospitare contemporaneamente fiori e frutti maturi, cosa che la rende particolarmente ornamentale, per la presenza sull'albero di tre vivaci colori: il rosso dei frutti, il bianco dei fiori e il verde delle foglie.

Curiosità: Il poeta Giovanni Pascoli dedicò al corbezzolo una poesia. In essa si fa riferimento al passo dell'Eneide in cui Pallante, ucciso da Turno, era stato adagiato su rami di corbezzolo; il poeta vide nei colori di questa pianta una prefigurazione della bandiera italiana e considerò Pallante il primo martire della causa nazionale.

« O verde albero italico, il tuo maggio

è nella bruma: s'anche tutto muora,

tu il giovanile gonfalon selvaggio

spieghi alla bora »

 

Nel Risorgimento il corbezzolo, proprio a causa dei colori che assume in autunno, uguali a quelli della bandiera nazionale, era considerato un simbolo del tricolore.

 

L’Orniello: Fraxinus ornus è una pianta della famiglia delle Oleaceae, (conosciuto come Orniello o Orno e chiamato volgarmente anche frassino da manna o albero della manna nelle zone di produzione della manna) è un albero o arbusto di 4-8 metri di altezza, spesso ridotto a cespuglio,

Ha tronco eretto, leggermente tortuoso, con rami opposti ascendenti con corteccia liscia grigiastra, opaca, gemme rossicce tomentose; la chioma ampia è formata da foglie caduche opposte, imparipennate, con 5-9 segmenti (più spesso 7), di cui i laterali misurano 5-10 cm, si presentano ellittici o lanceolati, brevemente picciolati e larghi un terzo della loro lunghezza. Il segmento centrale, invece, si presenta largo circa la metà della sua lunghezza ed è obovato; la faccia superiore è di un bel colore verde, mentre quella inferiore è più chiara e pelosa lungo le nervature. Le infiorescenze sono a forma di pannocchie, generalmente apicali e ascellari; i fiori generalmente ermafroditi e profumati, con un breve pedicello, possiedono un calice campanulato con quattro lacinie lanceolate e diseguali di colore verde-giallognolo; la corolla ha petali bianchi leggermente sfumati di rosa, lineari, di 5-6 mm di lunghezza. Il frutto è una samara oblunga, cuneata alla base, ampiamente alata all'apice, lunga 2-3 cm e con un unico seme compresso di circa un centimetro.

Il carpino nero: (Ostrya carpinifolia) è un albero della famiglia delle Betulaceae. Il carpino nero ha tronco dritto e chioma raccolta e un po' allungata; le sue foglie sono a forma ovale, allungate e con il bordo seghettato; la nervatura principale è molto evidente. I frutti sono acheni a grappolo di colore bianco/verde. Il Carpino nero, in Italia, si trova nelle fasce medie delle colline in posizioni mediamente soleggiate. La formazione forestale nella quale il Carpino nero risulta nel suo optimum è l'Orno-ostrietum, vale a dire in associazione con l'Orniello (Fraxinus ornus). Tale associazione (di cui l'Orniello e il Carpino sono le specie rappresentative) è tipica della "vegetazione illirica", ben rappresentata in Italia. Ha esigenze idriche superiori a quelle della roverella, predilige i suoli calcarei e marnosi, teme il ristagno idrico, ma sopporta i terreni argillosi.

Il cerro: (Quercus cerris L.) è un albero a foglie caduche appartenente alla famiglia delle Fagaceae. È una specie che tende a sviluppare una chioma sino ad una altezza di 30-35 m. Il cerro ha foglie di colore verde scuro dal margine con profonde lobature. Il tronco ha corteccia grigio-brunastra con profonde solcature rossicce (il felloderma si rende infatti visibile). I frutti sono ghiande di circa 2,5 cm di lunghezza, caratteristiche per il "cappuccio" che le copre parzialmente ricoperto di una sortadi peluria riccioluta, di colore giallino chiaro. La propagazione avviene tramite ghiande la cui maturazione fisiologica si completa in due anni.

La Roverella: (Quercus pubescens, Willd. 1805), è la specie di quercia più diffusa in Italia, tanto che in molte località è chiamata semplicemente quercia. Appartiene alla famiglia delle Fagaceae. Resistente all'aridità, è facilmente riconoscibile d'inverno in quanto mantiene le foglie secche attaccate ai rami a differenza delle altre specie di querce. Il principale carattere diagnostico per identificare la specie è quello di sentire al tatto le foglie o le gemme: sono ricoperte da una fine peluria che si può facilmente apprezzare. Generalmente venivano lasciate delle piante di quercia lungo i confini di proprietà così che è possibile in certi casi ricostruire detti confini esaminando la presenza dei grossi esemplari della specie.

 

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 ancient roman road “Via Flaminia” . The itinerary starts from the church of "Santa Maria in Pantano”, located just along the Via Flaminia, in the place of the ancient Vicus martis Tudertium, (interesting remains were unearthed during recent archaeological explorations started in 2008). During the Middle Ages the church became a religious hub for the area and still preserves today its original Romanesque style, built with blocks of travertine and pink and white limestone. The itinerary continue to the right, going to Montignano, an ancient feud of the Arnolfi family. The village preserves, almost in its entirety, the medieval urban structure, now occupied by a "Relais" hotel. Proceeding towards Villa San Faustino it is possible to visit the Abbey of San Faustino one of the many Benedictine centers in the area: the abbey is built on top of the ruins of a roman villa and can be visited upon request (contact details???). The most interesting archaeological sites of this area are located on the final part  of the itinerary; they can be reached  following  the municipal road towards Massa Martana Scalo and once arrived in Massa Martana Scalo follow the tourist signs towards  the two sites of interest. The first site is place of historical importance in Umbria, the “Catacombe Cristiane”, the only monument of this kind so far discovered in the region. The underground cemetery is open to visitors by appointment (contact information?). The second site and also the last stop of the itinerary is the “Ponte Fonnaia”:  you can reach it with a short walk descending from the Catacombs, and continuing right along a path in the countryside. The bridge is a powerful roman road construction, made of big travertine  blocks.  The imposing structure is located in an beautiful rural environment. Close-by in the same area there was also a lignite mine that have been  active for several decades during the XX century.

REACH THE ITINERARY

 

 

 

Insights: Itinerary 1

 

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.

 

SANTA MARIA IN PANTANO

The church of Santa Maria in Pantano is one of the oldest and most interesting Umbrian churches. According to an old legend, it was edified in the 5th century by the magister militumSevero on the remains of a building or of a pagan temple of CivitasMartana . Actually, the church occupies the space of a late imperial building, whose side masonry, in opus reticulatum, is still visible on the right side of the church.The opus recurs also outside in a wall parallel to the same side.

More likely the church consisted at first only of a big hall and a apse, which was common place of churches built between the 7th and 8th century. This means that the presbyteral and apsidal area, slightly raised and in opus spicatum masonry, were added to the original Roman building. Between the 10th and 11th century the hall was divided into a nave and two aisles, maybe in order to reduce the capacity load of the structure. The nave partition walls are founded on four arcades, which are substained by travertin columns. Their capitels have the shape of overturned truncated pyramids. On the partition walls, above, are also false women's galleries. This partition was not completed in the apsidal area; the old apse, which is bigger than the present nave, was left untouched. On the outside walls of the apse are wide arcades, reminiscent of decorative patterns used in the lagoon of Venice. Because of its rough masonry in opus spicatum, the apse can be considered as the oldest Umbrian apse after the early Christian churches. As annexe to the church was then built a monastery, governed by the Benedictines. They reclaimed the place, which was often flooded by the stream Tribbio, as the toponym in pantano ("pantano"= swamp) clearly indicates. The church was under the abbey of Farfa, as shown by a document of Farfa dated 1115. The church had been given actually to the monastery, together with some grounds and castles, by the count Rapizzone in 1104. A document by Emperor Henry V dated 1118 confirms this ownership. The façade, built in the 14th or 15th century, does not match, from a stylistic point of view, with the Roman side walls, and is sharply slanted forward. Its plain, rectangular structure is embellished with a pointed portal, made of alternate red and white ashlars with marble cornice, and a beautiful rosette.In the inside, which is divided into a nave and two aisles, are preserved cinerary urns, several inscriptions and Roman decorative fragments. Remarkable are: the big Corinthian capital, reutilized as support of the last right arcade; the fragments of the old mosaic floor and of the floor in opus spicatum, which have been recently found during restauration works; the big cippus with the inscription mentioning Vicani Vici Martis, reutilized as base for the main altar.

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.

 

Pink stone of San Terenziano: Another endemic feature is a mudstone made by carbonatic rosks and used in construction. The pink stone of San Terenziano is a particularly valuable stone used for finishes, furniture and interior accessories. It 'an ancient art that is known by the few stonemasons who still pass on the craft. The red scale is a marine sedimentary rock composed of flint limestone, fine-grained, more or less marly, predominantly reddish color that can go with white, yellow to deep red. The red coloration comes from the dispersion in the limestone mass of iron oxides (hematite and limonites); locally dyed some whitish discoloration may be due to secondary.The limestones of the red scale are always a dense and regular stratification and were deposited between 90 and 55 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous, Eocene and partially lower.

Ammonitico Rosso

 It is characterized by limestones and marly limestones with nodular texture, characterized  by a considerable

frequency of ammonite fossils, and the color red or rosé (but are also frequent tones green and violet) due to

oxidation of iron (Fe3 +). Although in the past this type of rock has often been used for construction (in particular the one coming from Veronese and widespread throughout Italy), nowadays its extraction is primarily for ornamental use, both indoor and outdoor, due to the beauty of its nuances, ranging from red-violet to pink-coral, yellow and green. Its use is prevalent in flooring, but it is also used for assembling stairs, panels, columns, balusters, posts, frames, fireplaces and works of sculpture. The use of limestone in the building in facies of rosso ammonitico is linked to the carbonate content: the higher it is, the more it improves the mechanical characteristics.

 

Ammonites

Ammonites  are an extinct group of marine invertebrate animals in the subclass Ammonoidea of the class Cephalopoda. These molluscs are more closely related to living coleoids (i.e. octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish) than they are to shelled nautiloids such as the living Nautilus species. The earliest ammonites appear during the Devonian, and the last species died out during the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. The name "ammonite", from which the scientific term is derived, was inspired by the spiral shape of their fossilized shells, which somewhat resemble tightly coiled rams' horns. Pliny the Elder (d. 79 AD near Pompeii) called fossils of these animals ammonis cornua ("horns of Ammon") because the Egyptian god Ammon (Amun) was typically depicted wearing ram's horns.[1] Often the name of an ammonite genus ends in -ceras, which is Greek (κέρας) for "horn".

 

Travertine and Calcareous tufa

Calcareous tufa or travertine is a variety of limestone, formed by the precipitation of carbonate minerals from ambient temperature water bodies. Geothermally heated hot-springs sometimes produce similar (but less porous) carbonate deposits known as travertine. Tufa is sometimes referred to as (meteogene) travertine;[1] care must be taken when searching through literature to prevent confusion with hot spring (thermogene) travertine.

Montignano

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 of feudal lords in central and southern Italy. A part of Umbria was assigned to Count Arnolfo, a German courtier and a relative of the Emperors, as his feudal domain as well as a region, called Arnolfa, which included Montignano. In the early years of the 16th century, the Atti family, feudal lords of the Casigliano Castle, extended their lands right up to the boundaries of Montignano which, until the 15th  century had belonged to the Matalucci family, a family of Guelph lineage, allies and relatives of the Atti family. The Castle was seriously damaged  by the passing of the French troops, and Todi’s municipality administration board deliberated on the 27th August 1577  that the population of Montignano was exempted from paying taxes due to the “damage suffered”. The San Giovanni Church contains a valuable painting of Our Lady of the Rosary by Bartolomeo Barbiani. Just outside the castle are the ruins (the outer walls and the apse semicircular in squared stone) of the ancient church of Santa Degna, documented since the thirteenth century. Of great interest is the large stone sarcophagus located behind the apse.

 

Curiosity: In 1577 Montignano and the surrounding land were devastated by the passage of some French mercenary troops. After the tragic facts the General Council of Todi decided to exempt the citizens from the payment of duties and taxes for four years!

 

Villa S. 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 church of San Faustino, was included in the thirteenth century among the possessions of the county of Todi.

 

Curiosity: On the day of San Faustino took place a big fair. Therefore in the statute of Todi of the year 1275 was established to send a judge of the "evil spells" with a notary and an armed escort in order to ensure public order of fair.

 

 

Abbazia di San Faustino

The abbey of San Faustino was edified on the remains of a Roman villa. Recent excavations have digged out its foundations and some rooms that were used for storing agricultural products. The church is named after St Faustino who, according to the legend, was disciple of the bishop of CivitasMartana, St Felix. Around the 8th century the Benedictines edified, on the saint's tomb, the church and the nearby monastery. These are mentioned as subordinate of the monastery of Farfa in several documents dated 1115 and 1118. Afterwards the church was converted into collegiate church for the secular clergy.

The façade, in the Lombard style but spoiled by a modern porch (1950), has an elegant mullioned window with three lights and marble small columns. Next to the window are, on the right side, an epigraph with the inscription of Lucius Julius Marcianus and his wife Publicia; on the left side, a fragment of Doric frieze with small roses and bucranesmetopes. Another fragment of the same frieze, which was embeded in a wall under a court window, has been recently moved inside the church.

The right side of the church is built on a high base made of travertin blocks; several semicircular pillars line it at regular intervals. Also the 13th century apse is semicircular in shape.

The aisleless inside, has been much reworked. It might have originally had a raised presbytery with underlying crypt. In the middle of the apse are, buried, two sarcophagi, one of them is venerated as St Faustino's. There are also several sculptural fragments from different time periods and several inscriptions. Among them very interesting is the one which mentions the call from Pope Pio II in December 1462.

Inside is a fresco by the painter Sebastiano Florii da Arezzo, which portrays the Madonna of Rosary (1580).

 Worth noting are the simple and rustic structure of the rooms of the ex-Benedictine monastery and an early Middle Age architrave on which are rough engravings of doubtful meaning.

The elegant bell tower is a recent construction (1925); it harmonizes well, however, with the Romanesque style of the church.

Curiosity: Looking carefully at the facade[FL2]  an inscription of Lucius Julius Marcianus and his wife Publicia is visible, which was clearly reused in Roman time. On the left, a fragment of a Doric frieze with rosettes and bucrania metopes. Many medieval buildings in the area were built using materials from the pre-existing Roman constructions.

 

Catacombe

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 in after 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.

 

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.

Brown Coal

The lignite, classified as Brown Coal in international trade, is a "very young" coal. Indeed, it is composed by organic material of plant origin, in course of fossilization in anaerobic environment, that is devoid of oxygen. The lignite present in Umbria was formed in the Middle Plio-Pleistocene; originated by the growth of lake plants on the remains of the preexisting ones. At that time, that was 5 to 1.7 million years ago, the Tiber was not the river we know nowadays and the waters of its basin gathered in the "Tiber Lake". In the Quaternary, about 1.7 million years ago, the lake formed the largest stretch of water in central Italy; in the basin left there are the major lignite mines in Umbria. The deposits of this lake are formed by pebbles and sand at the top and clays at the bottom; between those, at different levels, brown coal benches are enclosed, partly woody, ie composed by trunks of plants, and partly torbacea schistose , that is essentially formed by the leaves of the same plants.

 

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).

 

REACH ITINERARY

 

 

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.

 

Colpetrazzo

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.

 

 

 

Mezzanelli

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.

 

 

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.

REACH THE ITINERARY

 

Insights: Itinerary 3

 

MASSA MARTANA

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”.

 

SAN PIETRO SOPRA LE ACQUE

 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.

 

ABBAZIA DI SS FIDENZIO E TERENZIO 

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.

 

Historic and Naturalistic itinerary on the occidental flanks of the Martani Mountains

8,4 km – by car, 5,3km trekking.

This itinerary is a  trekking along the western slope of the mountain Monte Castro,  a relief above Massa Martana. From the town of Massa Martana follow the signs for  Martani. After a few kilometers you will come across the small church Ascensione where the walk begins. This Ancient rural church is documented since the thirteenth century under the name of Santa Maria de Podio. Later it was called Santa Maria de Castro and after the reconstruction of the seventeenth century it was commonly called Ascensione. From here the itinerary will run along the road for two hundred meters and then start the beginning of the trail called "Strada della Perazza". The trail runs for about 1 km uphill a pregelove wood of Quercus ilex on a natural background rocky limestone. Arriving at the summit of Monte Castro, the path takes on a sub level, through juniper and secondary grasslands; during the spring many species of small orchids dots the ground of bright colors. The path will then join again the provincial street; at the junction you can 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.  Looking at the chain of the Martani mountains you are can spot the abbey  of San Pietro in Monte (privately owned structure). All around you can also see the reforestation performed after the last war aimed at restoring the vegetation of our mountains but also you can see some of the most majestic specimens of beech trees of the entire Umbria region. Continuing along the main road downhill after roughly 3 km you will reach back the Troscia and your car.

REACH ITINERARY

 

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.

Chiesa dell'Ascensione

Old country church documented since the 13th century with the name Santa Maria de Podio. Afterwards it was known as Santa Maria de Castro and, after its restoration in the 17th century, as “chiesa dell’ Ascensione”. The name dedicated to the Madonna remains however its main name.

 

Faggio

Fagus sylvatica L. is widespread in the Alps and the Apennines, where it forms pure forests (beech) or blends of more than 900 m above sea level on Apennines. When climatic conditions permit the beech can find much lower.

It is a plant that easily reaches 25-30 meters in height. The leaves are thick, oval leaves, lighter underneath. The leaves are arranged on the branch in an alternating fashion, polished on both faces, with wavy margins, ciliate. In the Autumn take on a characteristic orange or red-brown color. It has a massive canopy, highly branched and dense foliage, easily recognizable from a distance because it's very rounded and wide, with erect branches of apical vertical proportions.

 

San Pietro in Monte

It was built by the Benedictines in 1000 and suppressed at the end of the fourteenth century. The Abbey had jurisdiction over a large territory and at the dependencies of its Abbot were also the churches of St. Ippolito of Castelvecchio and San Ilario of Todi. Its rich and valuable archive has been moved after the suppression to the Archives of the Cathedral of Spoleto. Like most Christian buildings, San Pietro was built on the remains of a Roman structure, presumably a temple dedicated to Mars, particularly revered in this area, so as to give the name of Martani to the mountains, the territory and the Vicus Martis.

This hypothesis is also supported by the discovery of some exhibits including a stone with a Roman inscription (used to support the church altar table, stored in the private chapel adjoining the building abbey).

Curiosity: Greeks and Romans outlined in a different way the figure of the god of war:

For the Greeks, Ares was a god of irrational and bloody with no special consideration;

For the Romans, who called it Marte, was second only to the king of Olympus.

In reality, his cult was already widespread among the Pre Roman civilizations, who regarded him as the god of nature and fertility, but also of thunder and rain.

According to mythology, Juno turned to Flora (goddess of flowers), looking for revenge on her husband Jupiter (alone had conceived Minerva)

The goddess of flowers and spring showed her a special flower that, on contact, allowed her to generate Marte, then raised by Priapus at art of war.

When Rome decided to extend their boundaries, promoting the series of military campaigns that gradually transformed it into an empire of vast dimensions, Marte was only associated with the war. Marte is considered the father of the Roman people: from its union with Rea Silvia born Romulo and Remo, the founders of the city. The first month of the archaic calendar (march) took by him name and to Marte were dedicated the main parties.

From the iconographic point of view, the god of war was always represented as a vigorous man, manly-looking, sometimes with a beard, with helmet and shield, spear and sword, rarely with full armor.

 

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 natural and artistic attractions. The itinerary starts from Viepri, a charming fortified medieval village located at the foot of mount Monte Schignano; the mountain is famos for the pre-Roman settlement remains.

From Viepri you will then reach the Abbey of Santa Maria Viepri (private structure, visits upon demand), probably built by the lords of Castelvecchio around 1150; the structure preserves the primitive Romanesque style, even after extensive restorations. Leaving the abbey the itinerary then reaches Castelvecchio, village that during the XIII century was one of the largest and most populous castles in the area. The massive elliptical walls encompassed a village with more than 100 families, a hospital and seven churches. Entering the village you can visit the church of Santa Maria di Castelvecchio, and a little further in the direction Grutti, the church of St. Ippolito with its typically hut-shaped structure and elegant Romanesque lines. It presents a semicircular apse of unusual shape and the typical masonry blocks in white and pink. In the vicinity of St. Ippolito you can make a short stroll of about 800 m to observe a striking karst fenomenon; a sinkhole. At the end of the footpath you will reach an old quarry dug out of the local limestone; here, with a little patience, it is possible to find fossilized remains of ammonites (cephalopods) and marine mollusks dating back from Jurassic times and silent witnesse of the long geological evolution of the area. Back to the car, the itinerary continues returning to the road that descends from Viepri to Collevalenza. After some km you will reach on the right side of the road, the church of Sant'Arnaldo, the construction dates back from the XIII century, although it went through multiple alteration in later centuries. In this location, on the second Sunday of September, it is celebrated an ancient festival in honor of the saint; on this occasion a faithful crowd flock here to take profit of the miraculous virtues embodied by Sant'Arnaldo. From the church take again the provincial road for about 300 meters and follow the directions on the left for Castel Rinaldi, a fief of the Arnolfi family then subjected to Todi. The village is a typical example of fortified settlement with its the well preserved city walls and the parish church of San Sebastiano.  Along the road back to Viepri are visible even-though partially hidden by the vegetation, several small niches carved in the travertine. those structures called "columbaria" probably had in ancient times a funerary function.

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Viepri

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 the subject of a dispute between Todi and Foligno. In 1392 it chose to submit to Ugolino Trinci, lord of Foligno but was finally conquered by Todi. The winners  put their coat of arms, an eagle, above one of the two gates of the castle. They are still well preserved, while only a portion of the medieval walls is visible. Inside the small village is the church of San Giovanni with an interesting frescoes dated 1577(Madonna col bambino tra angeli, Decollazione di San Giovanni Battista and San Rocco).

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Santa Maria di Viepri

Near Viepri stands the Abbey of Santa Maria. It was built around 1150 by the Lords of Castelvecchio. At the beginning of the 13th century it became the parish church of destroyed castle of Monte Schignano. An interesting example of Romanesque architecture, in time it underwent various interventions. The abbey was built using material from abandoned Roman buildings. On the simple gabled facade opens a portal surmounted by a lancet window and stands what remains of a sturdy bell tower, mutilated, it seems, by a lightning.

The great square tower was subsequently incorporated in the adjacent building. Along the outer walls of the abbey are incorporated a number of interesting and sculptural fragments of Roman and early medieval age. The semicircular apses have the characteristic crowning arches and pilasters on shelves, common to the Romanesque churches of Umbria. The interior is spacious and divided into three naves, separated by solid pillars without capitals, ending in three apses. It is covered by cross vaults supported by transverse arches, but it is plausible to assume that originally presented the usual wooden roof trusses. Although the abbey is free from the crypt below the chancel is slightly raised above the floor of the nave.

 

Castelvecchio

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 important and populous castles in the area (the town had about 100 families), surrounded by massive elliptical walls.

A place of passage, for its location along the path between Massa Martana, Todi and Gualdo Cattaneo, it had a hospital and seven churches under it (San Giorgio, Sant'Anastasia, Santa Cristina, San Biagio, Santa Croce, Santissima Trinità e Sant’Ippolito).

Castelvecchio's history is marked by several episodes, which made the town a scene of repeated fighting. In 1377 Catalano degli Atti head of the Guelph faction attacked the population of the Ghibelline party, who were able to protect themselves thanks to good defense that the mighty walls opposed.

In 1434 the castle was totally destroyed by the troops of Francesco Sforza. The few survivors decided to reconstruct the village further down the valley, around an important crossroads where in 1603 was built the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Castelvecchio.

The building still dominates the town, showing late Renaissance lines that little integrate with the architecture and atmosphere of medieval castles in the area.

The sanctuary was built in 1604 by the Bishop of Todi Angelo Cesi and was designed by the architect from Perugia Valentino Martelli. The church was built to commemorate a miraculous event occurred May 11, 1602. The simple lines of the structure hide a rich interior of seventeenth-century works of art, in addition to the fresco on the main altar, with the miraculous image of the Madonna con Bambino, painted in 1581 by Pietro Paolo Sensini.

On the four side altars there are fine seventeenth-century paintings: Cristo crocifisso tra San Francesco e Santa Maria Maddalena, by Ascensidonio Spacca called il Fantino, San Carlo Borromeo by Pietro Paolo Sensini and Madonna di Costantinopoli e la Santissima Concezione tra i Santi Francesco, Domenico e Antonio da Padova by Pietro Salvi da Bevagna.  Just outside the town is the pretty little church of St. Ippolito, documented since the 13th century, of an elegant Romanesque style with a semicircular apse of unusual shape and masonry in white and pink stone. The interior has a single nave and the apse preserves a seventeenth century fresco depicting “Cristo in Croce tra San Pietro e San Paolo”.

 

Sinkhole of 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.

Ammonites

The Ammonites, Phylum: Mollusca - Class: Cephalopoda - Subclass: Ammonoidea, are cephalopods appeared in the Devonian (about 400 million years ago) and extinct around the Upper Cretaceous-Paleocene (ca. 65 million years ago). Ammonites were animals of marine origin whose shell was formed by calcium carbonate in the form of aragonite, while the organic part was substantially composed by conchiolina. Ammonites were classified as cephalopods and can be considered as the progenitors of today's squid and cuttlefish. The anatomical parts that you can recognize and observe in fossils of ammonites are mainly: the fragmocon and protoconch, the Chamber of Housing and the peristome.

 Sant'Arnaldo

The church is surrounded only by some oak and cypress woods. It still has part of the original stone facade in local white and pink stone documented as early as the thirteenth century, has a single nave, much altered in later centuries. An ancient religious festival that attracts many pilgrims from different locations is celebrated on the second Sunday of September.

 

Monte il Cerchio

11 km  (7,8 km by car and 3,2 km trekking. Feasible also by bycicle

An overall perspective of the natural and historical landscape can be obtained from the top of the Monte Il Cerchio (930 m); the mountain is an importance natural site for the presence of juniper and a extensive surface covered with vegetation typical of the Mediterranean coast and that here reaches the innermost of the Tyrrhenian coast. The relief is located to the east of Massa Martana and can be reached following the road that ascends from the Ascensione to Monti Martani towards Terzo San Severo, until the water source of Troscia of Pozzacchiolo.  You can park the car at the Troscia and from here a footpath takes you, though a 1,6 km moderately steep ascension, to the ridge of Monte Il Cerchio. The summit presents an interesting secondary grassland; relly suggestive to visit during spring time to witness the beautiful flower bloom. The site is also notable for the remains of a perfectly circular Castelliere (highland pre-Roman village) placed  on a hill, south of the summit from the shape of which the mountains takes its name. Dating back to pre-Roman times, it was built with limestone blocks stacked to dry. The tour ends with a visit to the Archaeological site and return back to the starting point

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Insights: Itinerary 3

 

CHIESA DELL'ASCENSIONE

Old country church documented since the 13th century with the name Santa Maria de Podio. Afterwards it was known as Santa Maria de Castro and, after its restoration in the 17th century, as “chiesa dell’ Ascensione”. The name dedicated to the Madonna remains however its main name.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Historical and artistic buildings not included in the itineraries

Chiesa di Sant’illuminata

The church of Santa Illuminata, surrounded by a wonderful atmosphere, according to tradition is erected over the tomb of the saint. The building dates back to the 1000s and from the same era is the adjoining monastery. It was run by the Camaldolese monks, in the service of the church of St. Apollinare in Classe in Ravenna, further evidence of the Byzantine corridor which maintained in difficult times contact with Rome (as reflected in a document dated 1138 Annales Camaldulenses). The monastery played an important role from a political point of view, and it is mentioned in several sources, among which a document in 1185 and a privilege of Pope Gregory IX in 1229. Unfortunately, the monastery was closed shortly after and the church passed to the Chapter of the Cathedral of Todi. In 1260 the prior was the illustrious Benedetto Caetani, the future Pope Bonifacio VIII. Today the silence still surrounds the church and the adjoining monastery, the facade, sober and elegant, has a fine portal and three round-arched recesses, but broad, flanked by two blind arches, over a mullioned window opens with a central column and a capital with a crutch, according to the recurring Umbrian typology that is also found in San Felice di Giano, San Faustino, SS. Fidenzio and Terenzio. On the pediment is a medieval plate of the 9th century, decorated with a cross with floral and faunal patterns and a human figure.

At the rear of the church is still visible a part of the superior apse with two slits for lighting. A bell tower is erected on top of the wall, not in symmetry with the center. The interior, unfortunately severely damaged and then restored, consists of a nave, which originally had the raised presbytery with crypt below and was covered by a barrel vault with soffits. The vault collapsed, but there are clearly visible traces on the back wall.

The presbytery was once raised as one of the nearby church of SS. Fidenzio and Terenzio. The crypt shows traces of its ancient splendor. The interior walls were plastered, but you can see traces of frescoes, though much ruined, almost illegible. Of great interest a picture of the 18th-century painter Giovanni Andrea Lezzerini depicting an episode from the life of St. Illuminata.

 

Curiosity: According to legend, Illuminata from Ravenna seems lived in the sixth century. She walked the Via Amerina to escape from the pagan parents and his persecutors. She arrived in Umbria performed miracles in Massa Martana. She was buried near the village and hers tomb is under the church of Santa Illuminata. According to reports of local historians, about 100 steps from the church to the east were the Roman therme of Papiniano, and in the same direction was the "Fontanella di S.Illuminata" miraculous for fevers tertian

Zampani

In the thirteenth century the village of Zampani and its inhabitants were included in the territory of the Gagliole castle that stood on top of the hill now called Torracio. The castle was destroyed in 1307, and Zampani became the most important center of the surrounding area and it also acquired the title in official documents. In the land register of 1322, under the name of Villa dei Zampani are included 26 people, many of which are the same or the heirs of those registered in 1290 under the castle of Gagliole.

The inhabitants of Zampani were also organized into Communitas or Universitas of agrarian character and benefited together of the resources of a large portion of land in the mountains behind in term of Calvellis Fagieti and Montosoli.

From the fifteenth century Zampani joined the municipality of Massa and its inhabitants fall into the religious jurisdiction of the parish of San Felice di Massa. In the state of souls compiled in 1639 by the archpriest Don Andrea Boncompagni, are recorded in the village of Zampani 13 families with 66 inhabitants. Zampani is included in the territory of the bare and rocky hill called Rottomario because, according to a well established tradition in Roman times, an armed clash took place during which the followers of Mario were defeated by those of Silla. In fact, the original name was Griptonario, that means "place full of caves". One of these caves is still called Cave of San Felice because tradition has it that the holy Bishop of the City Martana, martyred in 303 AD, withdrew in prayer there. In ancient times, at least until the end of 1500, this event was celebrated with a solemn procession that went from the parish church of San Felice to the cave.

Sant’Ilario It is a very old country church, documented since the thirteenth century, with a single nave, a gabled roof and a semicircular apse. For a long time it was under the abbot of the monastery of San Pietro in Monte. Now in a state of neglect, hidden by vegetation, it preserves a sixteenth century fresco depicting a Madonna and Child.

San Valentino  Ancient rural church documented since the thirteenth century. One nave and facade of triangular shape; formerly also gave its name to a villa which in 1290 hosted 7 families. It's currently in ruins but still noticeable in the presbytery is the entrance to a subterranean environment, maybe a crypt, buried at the end of the 16th century by order of the bishop of Todi Angelo Cesi.

Cantalupo On a foothill of the mountain of Bandita in the Middle Age used to stand the castle of Cantalupo: it was probably destroyed in the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines that in the fourteenth century also involved the territory of Massa.

Today, in the village of Casalini, remains a part of its walls that surrounds a large area in which you can find many traces of its constructions.

Castello di Gagliole On top of Torraccio in the Middle Age stood the Gagliole castle; allegedly built by a certain Galliolo that would build in 1035 naming it after himself. More likely the castle's name comes from the word Lombard gahagi = fence, and perhaps it was built between the seventh and eighth centuries as a defensive outpost of the Lombard Duchy of Spoleto. In 1290 it was owned by Massa nobles Raniero and Galgano Bonaccorsi and 14 families lived there.

Impregnable Guelph stronghold, it was repeatedly attacked in vain by the Ghibellines of Todi until 1307, when it was purchased by the town of Todi, destroyed and razed to the ground. Today, only a few ruins of the castle of Gagliole remain, choked by vegetation. It had in its appurtenances the churches of San Bartolomeo and San Giacomo. The latter, documented since the thirteenth century, was at the foot of the hill where the castle stood, along the ancient route of the Via Flaminia. Perfectly preserved until the middle of this century, it's now reduced to a pile of rubble because on several occasions it was used as a stone quarry.

Castello delle Rocchette  Ancient castle that still stands well preserved on a high hill, mentioned for the first time in a document from 1295 as belonging to the heirs of Zurcio Gottofredi. In 1339 it was restored by the noble Antonio di Mariano of Castelvecchio. In other documents of 1400 it is mentioned as Rocca d'Angiolo of Mattiolo. Inside the castle, the church of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception has an interesting cycle of frescoes of the 16th century, including one depicting the Madonna del Soccorso, it is a highly original iconography of the Virgin represented while protecting the child from the devil with a stick. The village is now private property.

Rocca di Bonaccorso   It is believed that the Rocca di Bonaccorso was erected towards the end of the year 1000 by the founder of the noble Massetana family of Bonaccorsi-Fonzi. It stood on the hill in front of the homonymous spring, and was most likely a fort used to control the roads that converged to the important mountain pass of Water Channel. This is confirmed by a document from 1397 in which Pope Boniface IX granted to the noble of Massa Lello Bonaccorsi the power to levy tolls and duties of all those who passed through the area.

Madonna dell'acqua Small church built near a stream, probably to decorate a majesty, with a 16th-century fresco depicting the Madonna and Child, on the left side of the front door.

Restored in 1853 by Abbot Giuseppe Lauri, it has an altar decorated with painted architecture that frames the image of the Madonna and Child with the same iconography of the outside fresco.

Mulino di Santa Maria On the left of Highway exit Massa Martana are clearly visible the remains of an old mill, which formerly belonged to the abbey of Santa Maria in Pantano, set on a substructure of the Roman era, belonging to the Via Flaminia, perhaps the remains of a bridge, now destroyed, that crossed the stream Naia.

 

Martana Trekking

The Martani Trekking is a project of touristic-natural paths to enhance the mountain range. Martani Mountains stretches for about 35 km from north to south in central Umbria. The project was made in the early 90s. Recently the Comunità Montana Martani, Serano and Subasio makes a renovation project made. The Martani Trekking runs along the Martani ridge from north to south between the village of Giano dell’Umbria and Cesi, on two different ways that intersect at Scoppio, focal point and center the paths. In Scoppio is located a hiking center open only on reservation. The trekking is divided into 9 stages for a total length of 120 km, with a vertical drop of 5000 m uphill and 4500 m downhill. The entire route is not particularly difficult. The signs are recognizable with tables or bands of white and red paint.

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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 towards Massa Martana reaching Mount Castro where is possible to see the remains of a “Castelliere” and some emergencies of botanical interest. Exceeded Monte Castro, following the street for 1.4 km after can follow the signs white and red  of CAI trail Martani Trekking. It reaches Ditch Acqua Canale and continue towards Sorgente La Rocca, another picnic area along the path. Few hundred meters before the source you can see the ruins of a medieval fortifications in the area, the stronghold of Bonaccorso and  after a kilometer during the winter season is possible to see the ruins of the castle of Gagliole.

The route continues towards Sella di Giano and after two kilometers reaches the refuge of Monte Martano. Here observe the centuries-old beech forest in La Ghiaccia which is crossed by the road that reaches the Passo di Acqua Canale. From here a path of 500 meters between grasslands and juniper can reach the starting point.

 

 

 RAGGIUNGI L'ITINERARIO

Itineraries

Historical and artistic buildings not included in the itineraries
Chiesa di Sant’illuminata
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
Martana Trekking
The Martani Trekking is a project of touristic-natural paths to enhance the mountain range. Martani Mountains stretches for about 35 km from north to south in central Umbria. The project was made in t

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