Itinerary: Terni, Amelia, Castel dell'Aquila, Dunarobba, Montecastrilli, Carsulae
Among ancient fortresses and Medieval villages in Umbria
This tour in southern Umbria winds through forests, hills and vast, wavy plains. The amazing surrounding landscape is made of olive groves and arable crops. Anywhere along the road, the discreet presence of man and the signs of its history are clearly visible: Medieval villages, country cottages, ruins of ancient castles and fortified towns.
A quick stop in Terni is a must, at least, to visit the Roman amphitheater, the Cathedral, and St. Valentine's Basilica, the protector of lovers. When our visit in Terni is over, we drive along the ancient Via Amerina towards Sambucetole, a small hexagon-shaped village where a part of the Medieval town and some parts of the walls are still well preserved.
Some miles away we can visit the village of Collicello, where the ancient walls, the entrance gate and eight towers are still in good conditions and then we can visit Castel Eagle built in the thirteenth century.
Not far from Collicello we will reach Forte Cesare (pic n°3), a strategic fortification that overlooks and checks the whole area. From here our route leads us to other charming Medieval villagea and castles, such as the ruins of the Fortress of Canal, the village of Frattuccia and Castel dell'Aquila, built in the thirteenth century.
Santa Restituta (pic n°4) and Toscolano, two picturesque Medieval towns, are nestled in the green of a beautful chestnut grove. On the outskirts of the latter village there is a fifth-century shrine that preserves an important series of paintings dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and attributed to the famous painter Piermatteo d'Amelia.
After a stop there, we keep driving north, reaching Avigliano Umbro and Dunarobba. Close to this small village, we can visit Foresta Fossile (pic n°5), an amazing forest of fossilized logs dating back to the Pliocene geologic era (2-3 million years ago). The forest was discovered in the '70s in a cave of clay, and gathers about 50 fir logs that are interesting testimonies of a very ancient period.
From here we will reach Sismano, a Medieval village where we can visit a beautiful castle with two semicircular towers. Montecastrilli (pic n°1), which is just 7 kilometers south, stands on a hill surrounded by ancient walls with battlements and two Medieval gates. Another nearby Medieval village is Casteltodino, characterized by a picturesque historic center, rich in walls, towers, and narrow alleys.
We are now on our way back to Terni, but not before visiting Carsulae (pic n°6), a beautiful archeological site that used to be an ancient Roman town along the historic Via Flaminia, which was abandoned because of a landslide. The site still preserves an amphitheater, a thermal spa, a church, and some other attractions.
Some pics of this tour:
Montecastrilli (pic n°1); Amelia (pic n°2); Forte Cesare (pic n°3); Santa Restituta (pic n°4); The Dunarobba Fossile Forest (pic n°5); The archeological park of Carsulae (pic n°6)