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The historical heritage of this city speaks a language of modern inflection. An emotional place, to be saved from oblivion.

«Et maiores et posteros vestros cogitate».
«Think of your ancestors, think of posterity», wrote Publio Cornelius Tacitus and never, like in the case of Carsulae, has it been ever so adequate.
Even though today’s visitors may walk through a site of scattered ruins and remains around 20 hectares large, the compared studies supported by modern technologies (applications and video-mapping especially), are allowing to enjoy a rather complete vision of a sensational place, which deserves to be torn from oblivion.

A salubrious island, florid and welcoming

Built in the vicinity of Interamna Nahars and Casventum, the modern cities of Terni and San Gemini – harbingers of contrasting images of steel mills and mineral water springs – Carsulae is an island in the course of the Roman Flaminia way. Its destiny is consumed along the white cobblestones of the consular road, marked by the furrows of the wagons – and there were many! – built between 220 and 219 b.C. to connect Rome with the northern Adriatic Sea.

The pre-roman populations had understood the opportunity for increasing trade and quality of life and eventually settled closer to the road, building town centers and putting to use the nearby flat lands. Under Emperor Augustus (44 a.C – 14 d.C.), after being recognized as a township, Carsulae reaches its definitive urban layout. The Roman historian Tacitus (Hist. III, 60), together with Plinius the Younger (Ep. I, 4), describe it as florid and hospitable, rich in architectural splendors, salubrious and fertile, speckled with cultivations, vineyards and olive groves, politically active and open to the world.

 

Carsulae, photo by Carsulae site

Teeming with life

What if we were tourists in the age of its maximum splendor? We would be blinded by its white monuments, statues and bright enthusiasm! Let’s try and walk through it all again, walking along the Cardo Maximus (Flaminia road) cutting through the ancient town. There is the San Damiano Arch, suggestive northern gate, built with robust travertine block and inset in a triple-vaulted structure. Beside it, just outside the town perimeter, we find a place of remembrance: the Necropolis, with its sepulchral monuments of illustrious families. In front of the Forum, the basilica – once used as a tribunal – and around it, we can almost hear the sound of passing-by wagons, voices of men, women and children, of deals being struck at the shade of the associations’ guilds. The square, paved in marble and lined with porticos on its longer sides, is embellished by the facades of the public buildings, two twin temples dedicated to Castor and Pollux and the Capitolium, in honor of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. All around, the tight network of the domus, the Roman houses. Social life was enriched by entertainment varied in venues and cruelty. In the theater, harmoniously inserted in the urban context, tragedies, comedies and satires would be staged, while the nearby amphitheater – about 85 meters long and with a dug-out ring built into a natural depression – gladiators would engage in gruesome fights. Among the luxurious urban commodities, the cistern replenished the city with water, also used for the public thermal baths, major attraction for relaxing and socializing time.

 

Carsulae, photo by Carsulae site

End and rebirth

Yet a mist of forgetfulness descended on Carsulae. Between the Fourth and Fifth century A.D. it became an inhospitable place, after an earthquake caused great damage and caused the route of the Flaminian way to be diverted towards Terni and Spoleto.

The white road which had once brought favorable conditions for the city, now concurs to its fall, and Carsulae becomes a mine for construction materials. The archeological digs, started in the Sixteenth century but especially effective between 1951 and 1972, have now allowed the rediscovery of a historical heritage of inestimable value for the province of Terni, which has entrusted its communication to the documentation center U.Ciotti[1].

BOX – The battle of battles

During the winter of 69 A.D., in full Roman civil war, while the generals Vitellus and Vespasian were fighting for power, Carsulae became a crucial player for the faith of Rome and its Empire. After setting up camp on a well-exposed plain with views over Narni, where Vitellus had left some of his cohorts, Antonio Primo, Vespasian’s general, and the lieutenant Arrio Varo decide to scout out the city of Carsulae. After appreciating its beauty and its people’s warm welcome, the two spend a few days in the basilica to plan their strategy – knowing that the soldiers prefer a victory to peace. After laying out a plan and having offered sacrifices to the gods, the battle begins at the shout “Ahead men, fight! As long as you do not want to leave your banner to the enemy”. The victory of Antonio Primo end the civil war will favor the proclamation of Emperor Vespasian.

 


[1] Cfr. www.carsulae.it consulted on 19 July 2019.

Henry James, visiting Umbria, wrote: «His first [visitor] care will be not to be in a hurry to walk everywhere very slowly and aimlessly preserving all that his eyes will encounter».

A handful of words that inspires this itinerary among the flavors and aromas of Valnerina, significative elements of an Umbrian identity, which wants to tell its story. Authentic tastes which come back to life thorough valleys and ancient towns where the laboriousness of man is kept.  Here it is possible to know the whises of the Umbrian people to reflect, at the table, the richeness of their land: this is the reason why  we decided to discover the flavors of Valnerina.

The trout of the Nera river

The Nera river is like a primitive flow, which for millennia has tormented the sleep of the ancient bridges and stone of Valnerina. It has shaped this superb landscape, combining its name with the territory and becoming an incomparable icon of Umbria. Valnerina is a place where biodiversity resists to the agri-food chains that aim to bury stories of the fishermen, worn by the Nera and its breeze. And it is precisely in this context that the river drags downstream the trout of the Valnerina, considered as a trophy by the fishermen coming from everywhere.

 

Honey

Honey

In Valnerina, the journey through the lands of taste can continue, crossing one of the many passes and borders and finding different souls and unexpected aromas. Visitng small companies that produce ancient flavors, such as honey, allows the visitor to meet people, faces and stories. Buying directly from the producers, at zero km, not only guarantees the quality, but also allows to follow an itinerary along the paths of an uncontaminated landscape. This part of Umbria has a strong voction for this noble nectar both precious and appreciated, which has flourished, with renewed and lively enthusiasm, derived from the source of an ancient tradition.

 

legumi tipici umbri

IGP lentils of Castelluccio

If there was a night of the gastronomy Oscars, on the red carpet of taste and tradition, the Umbrian excellences would win more than one award.  But if there is an award that certainly can not miss is that for the lentils of Castelluccio di Norcia: a product in which archaic tastes are exhibited, with an extraordinarily modern charm.
Castelluccio di Norcia, a poor land with healthy products, would be the closing title of this short film about the Umbria of genuineness. In the “tradition casting”, the main role belongs to the famous lentil, legume, that in the cold of the Apennine Mountains ‘ winter, manages to preserve an incomparable quality. A food proudly made in Valnerina that, in the shyness of an extraordinarily small seed, hides an infinitely large flavor.

 

Keep it going…

For centuries the area around the lake Trasimeno lake has been an important reference point for the cultivation of wine in Umbria.

A difficult search for identity

The production territory has always had a significative difficulty in finding an identity with regard to its wine production. Quite hard identifing a specific wine variety, as it is possible in other areas of Umbria, like Orvieto, Torgiano or Montefalco.
Since the very beginning of the millennium, the lake area, like many others in Italy, has seen the spread of the production of Sangiovese and of other international wine varieties, first of all the well – known merlot and with large use of small wooden barrels. A type of production influenced by the trend of that moment, but which leaded to a lack of common identity among the wineries of the Trasimeno.
The same disciplinary of production of the DOC “Colli del Trasimeno” is very varied, as it admits numerous international vine varieties, from the chardonnay, to the pinot noir, as well as typically Umbrian ones, such as the Grechetto and the Trebbiano.

 

Trasimeno wine, photo by Facebook

A reference point in the middle of chaos

In recent years, this difficult search for identity, seems to have reached a turning point: we are talking about the increasing discovery and enhancement of Gamay del Trasimeno, already included in the DOC, cited above.
The history of this vine variety is not one of the most lucky, since it has been confused with the most famous Gamay cultivated in France, in the Beaujolais region, for a long time.
Actually, the Umbrian Gamay  is part of the Sardinian Cannonau family, the Alicante and the Spanish Garnacha.
Its ancient origins are Hellenic and from that area, it spreaded to the rest of Europe, above all, it took root in the Iberican peninsula. Eventually, Spanish people introduced it to Sardinia, around the middle of the fifteenth century. From here, originated its journey towards our Umbria.
This happened thanks to the numerous Sardinian shepherds migrated to the Trasimeno area from the middle of the nineteenth century, who brought with them the wine varieties of their lands.

An example of adaptation to the territory

 

The Gamay of Trasimeno wine varieties has been protagonist of innumerable displacements, but it has always managed to adapt and take root in the territories in which it was brought, assuming different names, while the original one has been lost in the memory of the places. The Gamay of Trasimeno has, in fact, a twin brother also in the Marche, called Bordò, cultivated by a handful of wineries in the Piceno area. Instead, in Veneto its name is Tocai Rosso, and in France, Grenache.In any case and whatever its name, the Gamay Of Trasimeno produces many bunches and can be harvested in two moments: a first harvest, for rosé wines, while the second one, gives ruby-red wines with hints of bitter almonds and red fruits.Today Gamay Perugino or Gamay of Trasimeno is increasingly appreciated and known, as shown by the three gold medals won last April by some of the wineries from the Trasimeno lake, at the 2018 edition of the Grenaches du Monde in Catalonia. This is an international event that compared over 850 wines from all over the world, made with grapes from the Grenache family.