FROM SPOLETO TO NORCIA…
A wonderful landscape, rich of history, nature, popular and gastronomical traditions, through a green valley that owes its name to the river crossing it: the Nera river. By climbing it back to its mouth, you reach the Valnerina tablelands, a landscape where the stamps and marks of the ancient culture and history of population living along the Appennino mountains are still evident.
A landscape marked out by medieval towers and defences, powerful abbeys and lone hermitages, where you’ll pass through beautiful small villages, where men still pay their homage to the wonderful nature they’re merged in…
Spoleto was situated on the eastern branch of the Via Flaminia, which forked into two roads at Narni and rejoined at Forum Flaminii, near Foligno. An ancient road also ran hence to Nursia. The Ponte Sanguinario of the 1st century BC still exists. The Forum lies under today’s marketplace.
Located at the head of a large, broad valley, surrounded by mountains, Spoleto has long occupied a strategic geographical position. It appears to have been an important town to the original Umbri tribes, who built walls around their settlement in the 5th century BC, some of which are visible today. The first historical mention of Spoletium is the notice of the foundation of a colony there in 241 BC; and it was still, according to Cicero colonia latina in primis firma et illustris: a Latin colony in 95 BC. After the Battle of Lake Trasimene (217 BC) Spoletium was attacked by Hannibal, who was repulsed by the inhabitants During theSecond Punic War the city was a useful ally to Rome. It suffered greatly during the civil wars of Gaius Marius and Sulla. The latter, after his victory over Marius, confiscated the territory of Spoletium (82 BC). From this time forth it was a municipium.
Under the empire it seems to have flourished once again, but is not often mentioned in history. Martial speaks of its wine. Aemilianus, who had been proclaimed emperor by his soldiers in Moesia, was slain by them here on his way from Rome (AD 253), after a reign of three or four months. Rescripts of Constantine (326) and Julian (362) are dated from Spoleto. The foundation of the episcopal see dates from the 4th century: early martyrs of Spoleto are legends, but a letter to the bishopCaecilianus, from Pope Liberius in 354 constitutes its first historical mention. Owing to its elevated position Spoleto was an important stronghold during the Vandal andGothic wars; its walls were dismantled by Totila.
Under the Lombards, Spoleto became the capital of an independent duchy, the Duchy of Spoleto (from 570), and its dukes ruled a considerable part of central Italy. In 774 it became part of Holy Roman Empire. Together with other fiefs, it was bequeathed to Pope Gregory VII by the powerful countess Matilda of Tuscany, but for some time struggled to maintain its independence. In 1155 it was destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa. In 1213 it was definitively occupied by Pope Gregory IX. During theabsence of the papal court in Avignon, it was prey to the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, until in 1354 Cardinal Albornoz brought it once more under the authority of the Papal States.
After Napoleon’s conquest of Italy, in 1809 Spoleto became capital of the short-lived French department of Trasimène, returning to the Papal States after Napoleon’s defeat, within five years. In 1860, after a gallant defence, Spoleto was taken by the troops fighting for the unification of Italy. Giovanni Pontano, founder of the Accademia Pontaniana of Naples, was born here. Another child of Spoleto was Francis Possenti who was educated in the Jesuit school and whose father was the Papal assesor, Francis later entered the Passionists and became Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. (source: Wikipedia)
Traditionally known in English by its Latin name of Nursia, is a town and comune in the province of Perugia (Italy) in southeastern Umbria. Unlike many ancient towns, it is located in a wide plain abutting the Monti Sibillini, a subrange of the Apennines with some of its highest peaks, near the Sordo River, a small stream that eventually flows into the Nera. The town is popularly associated with the Valnerina (the valley of that river).
The area is known for its air and scenery, and is a base for mountaineering and hiking. It is also widely known for hunting, especially of the wild boar, and for sausages and ham made from wild boar and pork. Such products have been named after Norcia; in Italian, they are called norcineria.
Traces of human settlement in Norcia’s area date back to the Neolithic Age. The town’s known history begins with settlement by the Sabines in the 5th century BC. It became an ally of ancient Rome in 205 BC, during the Second Punic War, when it was known in Latin as Nursia, but the earliest extant Roman ruins date from around the 1st century.
St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine monastic system, and his twin sister St. Scholastica, were born here in 480. In the 8th century, an oratory was built so pilgrims could pray at St. Benedict’s birthplace. Monks came to Norcia in the 10th century. Contemporary monks care for the Monastery of St. Benedict, built over the Roman ruins of the house of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica.
In the 6th century Norcia was conquered by the Lombards, becoming part of the Duchy of Spoleto. In the 9th century it suffered from Saracen attacks, which started a period of deep decadence. In the 11th century, it was part of the domain of St. Henry, Holy Roman Emperor.In the 12th century Norcia became an independent commune within the Papal territories, with an increasing political and economical prestige. The collaboration with the Benedictine abbey in Preci led to the creation of the Schola Chirurgica. Studies at this institution contributed to Norcia residents improving their swine breeding. The powerful Spoleto and the 1324 earthquake thwarted the city’s ambitions, and in 1354 it was returned definitively to the Papal authority. (source: Wikipedia)
NOT TO BE MISSED: