Archeology Itinerary: Towns of Roman origin

Roman settlements in Umbria

Carsulae - Panorama

The development of the site of Carsulae, which appears not to show traces of a settlement previous to the Roman colonization, should be seen in relation to the opening of the Via Flaminia in 220 B.C., although only the geographer Strabo records the location of the town along this road. It is not improbable that the corresponding settlement of Umbrian origin should be identified as the nearby town of Sant’Erasmo di Cesi.

In the Augustan age there were two magistrates (duoviri) at the head of Carsulae’s political structure. Subsequently they increased in number to four (quattuorviri). Recorded by the sources as being without a boundary wall, in all likelihood the town fell into a state of neglect during the period of the Barbarian invasions, which undoubtedly overcame this small urban center.

A theory deriving from archaeological excavation surveys suggests that the cause of the destruction and the consequent abandonment of the site may have been a violent earthquake. Nowadays Carsulae can be considered as a privileged sightseeing spot, where it is possible to observe the context of an ancient town without any of those historical overlays that in cases of continuity at the urban level often make it difficult to wholly understand and interpret a site.

Carsulae - Panorama

The archaeological area:
– Thermal baths, theatre, amphitheatre, church of San Damiano, arch of San Damiano, basilica, forum, monumental tombs

– Fortified site of Sant’Erasmo and sanctuary of Monte Torremaggiore di Cesi
– Avigliano umbro: Grotta Bella
– Avigliano umbro: Dunarobba fossil forest
– Acquasparta: Roman bridge near the church of San Giovanni de Butris

Forum Flaminii
Near the area occupied by the small Romanesque church of San Giovanni Profiamma, built in 1231 with material recycled from Roman and early mediaeval constructions, in an area that underwent an early Romanisation process, we should mention the presence of a commercial center (forum) that developed along the Via Flaminia, at the precise junction of the two branches into which the road divided when it reached Narni.

The Forum was founded by the consul C. Flaminius along the road that took its name from this same magistrate. A funeral stele records that the Forum was ascribed to the Ufentina tribe, and its territory bordered those of Spello, Foligno, Plestia and Nocera. –Church of San Giovanni Profiamma

Carsulae - Panorama

Fossato di Vico – Vicus Helvillum
This place, which is immersed in greenery on the slopes of the Apennine chain, before becoming a fundamental junction of the Via Flaminia in the Roman age, was already a busy town in the Umbrian period. It is to this archaeological phase that the bronze sheet relates which bears an inscription testifying to a cult dedicated to the goddess Cupra in the area. The Roman town appears to have developed in the hilly strip above the great thoroughfare, in the place now known as Borgo, as far as the hillock of Aja della Croce, where drums of columns are still clearly visibly in a private house.

– Civic collection

– Flaminia drain at Palazzole
– Bridge of San Giovanni

Foligno - St. Maria In Campis Domus

Scheggia – Statio ad Hensem
The present-day site of Scheggia corresponds to the Statio ad Hensem recorded in the ancient itineraries. Various finds in the areas near the Flaminia before the entrance to the town, support this identification. In the vicinity of the Scheggia pass, sources have located the sanctuary of the Apennine Jove, which was considered to be a “national” place of worship for the Umbrians. It is recorded by the sources and represented in the Tabula Peutingeriana.

– Civic collection

– Barrel bridge
– Costacciaro funeral monument
– Furlo tunnel

Lake Trasimeno

Massa Martana – Statio ad Martis
In the vicinity of Massa Martana, the church of Santa Maria in Pantano, dating back to the 7th-8th century A.D. and whose orientation follows the route of the western branch of the Via Flaminia, is laid out on the pre-existing structures of a Roman building of uncertain work.

These remains provide us with information about the existence in the same place of a small settlement, which various Latin inscriptions originating from the area and preserved in the church confirm was called vicus Martis Tudertium, built around the site of the important statio or mansio ad Martis along the Via Flaminia, recorded by the ancient itineraries and 18 miles away from Narni.

This was a very important road junction because, not only did it play a central role in the public postal service and the transport of materials and personnel of the Cursus publicus romanus along the great consular thoroughfare, but it also guaranteed a series of cross links in relation to the principal road network, which were no less important at local level, heading towards: on one side Todi (Tuder), on the other side Spoleto (Spoletium)

. Environs:
– Church of Santa Maria in Pantano
– Catacombs of San Faustino
– Fonnaia bridge

Tuoro sul Trasimeno

The Lake Trasimeno area was the natural setting for a very serious defeat inflicted on the Roman consul Caius Flaminius and his army by the Carthaginians in 217 B.C., in the context of the 2nd Punic War, also known as the Hannibalic war from the name of the famous soldier of fortune who led the expedition of Rome’s bitter enemies. According to the most credible theory the site of this battle was actually the Tuoro valley, surrounded by the hills of Monte Gualandro and Montigeto.

The battle is recorded as one of the bloodiest defeats in Roman history, the echo of whose atrocity still persists in the blood and bone elements of place-names such as “Sanguineto” and “Ossaia”.

Numerous archaeological tokens have been found in the area, many of which belong to the Republican age or to the first Imperial age; particular mention should be made of the so-called “strina”, in other words the pits with a truncated cone section, which, in the opinion of various experts were used by Hannibal to incinerate the bodies of the dead after the battle, with the aim of avoiding plagues and epidemics, and the bronze Etruscan-Roman statue of the Haranguer, now kept in the Archaeological Museum in Florence, which according to recent theories comes from the area of the aforementioned Sanguineto: the statue represents a person of high rank, probably a magistrate, dressed in the toga praetexta, in the act of declaiming before the crowd.

The archaeological area:
– Archaological Park and Permanent Documentation center on the Battle of Trasimeno
– Il Sodo Park, Associazione Pro-Loco Tuoro sul Trasimeno

– Fishing Museum in San Feliciano, which contains various ancient objects related to fishing activity
– Roman villa at Quarantaia, near Passignano.
Courtesy of Umbria 2000