Roman remains in Umbria, Italy - bridges, theatres, temples

Roman Umbria

Roman Umbria

Roman Umbria

Roman remains in Umbria, Italy - bridges, theatres, temples

Ponte d'Augusto at Narni
Ponte d’Augusto at Narni

Umbria is named after its earliest identifiable inhabitants, the Umbri tribe, who settled in parts of what is now Umbria in the 6th century BC. Their language was Umbrian, a language related to Latin. The modern administrative Region of Umbria, however, covers a rather different area of Italy from that bearing the same name in Roman times. Roman Umbria extended through most of what is now the northern Marches, to Ravenna, but excluded the west bank of the Tiber – and thus for example Perugia, which was in Etrucia – and the area around Norcia, which was in the territory of the Sabines.

The importance of Umbria in Roman and mediaeval times was intimately bound up with the Via Flaminia, the consular road that supplied Rome and served as a military highway into and out of Rome. Once the Roman empire collapsed, Umbria became a strategic territory fought over by the Church, the Lombards and the Byzantines, and suffered consequently, becoming partitioned among them and disappearing from history. The modern use of “Umbria” is due to a rebirth of local identity in the 17 C.

Because of its relative closeness to Rome, Umbria has a great many more Roman remains than Tuscany, and we list here some of those most interesting to the visitor to the principal towns of Umbria.

Roman Assisi

  • the city walls of Assisi contain a great many Roman elements.
  • the Temple of Minerva and the Forum.
  • Roman houses including the remains of a wealthy Roman villa (domus) underneath the apse of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the remains of an Imperial Roman villa unearthed during an excavation inside Palazzo Giampè.
  • a Roman cistern can be seen inside the Cathedral of San Rufino, where it forms the foundation of the bell tower.

The Temple of Minerva at Assisi
The Temple of Minerva at Assisi

Roman Gubbio

Roman theatre, the second largest theatre in the Roman empire after the theatre of Marcellus in Rome.

Roman Mausoleum at Iguvium

Roman Narni

The main and spectacular Roman remnant near Narni is the huge Roman bridge known as the “Bridge of Augustus” – photo at the top of the page.

Roman Perugia

Temple of Saint Michael Archangel (Tempio di San Michele Arcangelo) probably dating from the 5 C but constructed on the remains of a Roman temple which in its turn was built on a site sacred to the Etruscans.

Tempio di San Michele Arcangelo at Perugia
The Tempio di San Michele Arcangelo at Perugia

Roman Spello

  • Spello is remarkable for the number and, in several cases, the intact state of its Roman gates, notably the Porta Venere and the Porta Consolare.
  • Three Roman statues are displayed on the upper part of the Porta Consolare.
  • The outline of the Roman amphitheatre can be discerned on the outskirts of Spello.

Roman Spoleto

The Roman theatre, mostly recreated. The scene is occupied by the former church of St. Agatha.

Ponte Sanguinario, a Roman bridge 1st century BC. The bridge is now below ground level but is in an excellent state of preservation and easy to visit.

Roman amphitheatre (2 C AD) was converted into a fortress by Totila in 545. Now only partially visible but long sections of the lower ambulacrum, together with a part of the upper ambulacrum, can still be seen.

Casa Romana (Roman House) next to the Palazzo Comunale, just above the level of the Roman Forum.

Ponte delle Torri, the most famous structure at Spoleto, is a striking 13 C aqueduct, possibly built on Roman foundations.

The Church of Sant’Ansano was constructed in the 18 C over a series of former buildings including a Roman temple (1st century AD).

The Basilica of San Salvatore (4 – 5 C) incorporates the cella of a Roman temple and is one of the most important examples of Early Christian architecture anywhere.

Other major Roman sites

Carsulae is an archaeological site not far from Terni, in southern Umbria. It was a prosperous halt on the consular Via Flaminia, equipped with thermal baths, theatres, temples and tombs.

Cascata delle Marmore, just a few km outside of Terni, is a waterfall created by the ancient Romans. The height is 165 m (514 feet), making it one of the tallest in Europe. Its flow is sometimes diverted in order to supply a power station. A path along the falls allows the visitor to hike up to the top of the falls.