Key to Umbria: Bevagna

Walk II:  Around the Walls

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Pliny the Elder recorded that, like Arretium (Arezzo), Mevania (Bevagna) had walls built of unbaked clay.  This suggests that the settlement was walled early in the 3rd century BC.  In fact, by the time that Pliny writing (i.e. in the 1st century AD), Bevagna had walls made from stone, but he could have been relying on information about an earlier circuit that no longer survives. 

The stone walls (1st century AD) provided the foundations for much of the later circuit of walls.  However, the Roman municipium probably extended further to the north and not so far to the south as the present settlement, as described below.  Its walls were rebuilt after soldiers of the Emperor Frederick II destroyed Bevagna in 1249.  They were badly damaged when Bevagna joined the Ghibelline uprising against the Trinci in 1377, and Corrado II Trinci subsequently restored and reinforced them.


Piazza Filippo Silvestri to Porta Foligno

The walk begins in Piazza Filippo Silvestri, which has been the main square of Bevagna since the Middle Ages.  Leave the piazza along Corso Giacomo Matteotti, which follows the line of the Roman Via Flaminia, the cardo maximus of the Roman municipiumContinue to the junction of with Via Gabriele Crescimbeni (to the left) and Via Santa Margherita.  These two streets probably formed the decumanus maximus, and the junction was probably the site of the Roman forum:

  1. Via Gabriele Crescimbeni runs to Porta Cannara in the medieval walls; no trace survives of its Roman predecessor, which must have been a little way beyond it; and

  1. Via Santa Margherita runs to the church of Santa Margherita, which stands on what must have been the site of another Roman gate.

You will pass both of these later in the walk.  Continue along Corso Giacomo Matteotti to Porta Foligno, the point at which Via Flaminia left the city.

Porta Foligno to Porta Cannara

Porta Foligno (previously known as Porta San Vincenzo), is a gate in the medieval walls that was restored in 1797.  The fresco (18th century) on the interior depicts the Madonna and Child with St Vincent. 

The arms (14th century) on the exterior were rediscovered during a recent restoration.

The lines of medieval and the Roman walls part company at Porta Foligno (as you walk in the counter-clockwise direction): the Roman municipium extended further to the north: excavations in 1988 in Parco Silvestri (on your left after you walk through Porta Foligno) unearthed substantial remains of ancient walls that seem to have belonged to those of the Roman city.

The war memorial is in Parco Silvestri, just beyond on the left.

Detour A (see below), to the church of the Madonna della Rosa and the site of the

Roman amphitheatre begins and ends outside Porta Foligno.

Walk into Parco Silvestri and continue through it, to follow the medieval walls in an anti-clockwise direction.

  1. Excavations [when?] near the wall, just beyond the war memorial, unearthed the remains of a Roman structure.

  1. Excavations in 1884 of a temple nearby is documented, but no visible trace of the temple itself survives. 

  2. A polychromed terracotta antefix (4th century BC) that was found here in the 1990s, which presumably came from this temple, is now in the Museo Archeologico, Perugia.  

  1. Fragments of an arm and a leg from a colossal statue (now in the Museo Archeologico, Bevagna, probably of a seated male divinity, had been found here two year earlier.

Walk through the park, with the medieval walls on your left and Viale Properzio below on your right.  When you reach the point below the campanile of San Francesco ....

... look across Viale Properzio to its junction with Via I Maggio: excavations were carried out in 1980-2 under a house on the right in this street, just beyond the junction.  The finds come from two distinct periods:
  1. The finds at the lowest level come from what seems to have been an archaic settlement ( 7th century BC).  They  include:

  2. the remains of dry stone walls that belonged to the oldest stone buildings that have been found in Umbria;

  3. the remains of a  furnace, which suggests that rich clay deposits in the area supplied a local ceramic industry from a very early date; and

  4. three ditch tombs used by this community.

  5. Other finds from these excavations (now in the Museo Archeologico, Perugia) include:

  6. an architectural decoration in the form of a gargoyle with the shape of a cat’s head;

  7. a number of impasto and bucchero pottery fragments; and

  8. a loom weight.

  9. Those from the upper levels come from what seems to have been a cult site, which was first monumentalised in the 3rd century BC and which was extended and restored at the time of the Emperor Hadrian (117-38 AD). 

In addition, a hoard of some 230 coins, which included dateable coins from the period 211-110 BC, was discovered during these excavations.  The coins were in a terracotta jar that had been placed inside a wooden container and buried in a cavity some 800 cm below the ground.  There is no evidence that the coins had been accumulated over a long period: the older coins are (apparently) badly worn, and could well have been in circulation alongside the later ones.  Thus, this seems to have been a case in which a  number of coins were interred for safety, perhaps by the officials who administered the cult.  The coins and the terracotta jar are now exhibited in the Museo Archeologico, Perugia.

According to Simone Sisani (referenced below, at pp. 417-8)  Via I Maggio probably follows the line of the ‘via triumphalis’ (triumphal way), which is known from an inscription (CIL XI 5041) that was discovered in 1589 under the street (now stepped) from Piazza Garibaldi to San Francesco (directly behind you - see also Walk I).  The inscription, which is now in the Museo Archeologico, records the names of a group of freedmen  who had financed its paving with “lapide hispellate” (stone from Spello).   It seems likely that the original inscription named nine men and identified them as the members of the novemviri Valetudinis.   This road might have connected the sanctuary here to the sanctuary at the Laghetto dell’ Aisillo (see Detour B below), and then continued Hispellum (Spello), the site of the important Roman sanctuary at what is now Villa Fidelia.

Continue across park to the exit and turn left to Porta Cannara.

Detour B (see below) to the Chiesa dell’ Annunziata and Lake Aiso

begins and ends outside Porta Cannara.

Porta Cannara to Porta Sant’ Agostino


Porta Cannara (13th century), which is also known as Porta San Giovanni or Porta Perugia, is the best preserved of the medieval city gates.  As noted above, it straddles what was the decumanus maximus of the Roman municipium: the corresponding Roman gate must have been a little way further from the town centre. 

The plaque on the inside of the gate, below the sundial, commemorates Giuseppe Garibaldi and is dated 1884, the year of his death.  (The piazza here is also named for him).

Walk through the gate into Piazza Masci Minolfo, which is named for Masci Minolfo, a policeman from Bevagna who was murdered in  1948 while on duty in Civita Castellana. 

Turn immediately left, and  contiue with the walls on your left: the steps ahead lead down to Via Gaita San Giovanni.  Continue around the walls to the recently re-opened Porta delle Fosse, which marks the point at which the lines of the medieval and the Roman walls converge. 

Continue along Via delle Fosse to Porta Guelfa, which is now just an opening in the walls.  Turn right through it and then left along Via Gaita San Pietro. 

The Roman walls provide the foundations for a long stretch from Porta Guelfa until the square tower before the convent of Sant’ Agostino.  The walls beyond enclose  an area that seems to have been a salient added in the Middle Ages. 

Continue to Porta Sant’ Agostino: as mentioned above, the city walls and the point at which Via Flaminia entered the city from the south seem to have been slightly further north along Corso Giovanni Amendola.

Porta Sant’ Agostino (also known as Porta San Salvatore or Porta Romana) is now just an opening in the walls.


Take a short detour by continuing ahead across the canal and the river.  Cross Via Timia ans continue ahead along Via Sant’ Antonio (ahead) leads to the villa Le Contessine.  The cypress trees draw attention to it.  Two interesting Roman inscriptions  survive in the garden (although I could not see them from the road):

  1. A funerary inscription (CIL XI 5044, 1st century AD) commemorates Statilia Nebris, the wife of the freedman Caius Arruntius Hermes, novemvir Valetudinis and sevir sacris faciundis.

  2. A second  funerary inscription (CIL XI 5047, 2nd century AD)commemorates the freedman C(aius) Attius Ianuarius, who was also a novemvir Valetudinis and sevir sacris faciundis: he had left a considerable sum to his guild, the collegio dei centonarii (the guild of manufacturers of patchwork covers known as centones, who financed the ercetion of the cippus) to finance an annual banquet in his memory for at least 12 men on the festival of the Parentalia.

Return to Via Timia and turn right: the next turning on the right in Via Pilone, which probably follows the line of the Via Flaminia, and which is probably named for one or more Roman “tower” mausoleums that were once visible here.  The surrounding area is known as Vocabolo Pilone, and some 200 Roman tombs were excavated here in 1977-84.  Grave goods from Tomb 10, which were conspicuous for their quality, are now in the Museo Archeologico, Perugia.  Among them was this lidded earthenware funerary jar and a number of oil lamps, including the anthropomorphic example illustrated here.

Return to Porta Sant’ Agostino, where this short  detour ends.

Porta Sant’ Agostino to Porta Foligno

Continue along Via Gaita Santa Maria, around the outside of the medieval circuit, past two polygonal towers: this circuit rejoins the line of the Roman walls after the second of these. 

Continue to Porta Molini.  The worn inscription under the arms of Pope Innocent VIII commemorates the restoration of this section of the walls in 1484. 

Porta Molini is named for the mills that were powered by the water of the Timia here, one of which survives opposite the gate.  An inscription on its right wall (in Via Clitunno) records that this mill later produced hydroelectricity as the Azienda Idroelettrica Municipal.   At the time of my visit in June 2017, this building was being redeveloped.

Continue along what is now Piazza dell’ Accolta: “Accolta” here refers to the artificial millpond that has been created by harnessing the river waters, which you will see ahead.  Continue to the arch of the bridge across  the river.   You will be continuing under it, along the signed cycle path to Spoleto, but will first make two short detours.

First turn right, towards the river.  The portico ahead was built here in 1924, over the old washhouse in which the women of Bevagna used to do their laundry.  From here. you can see the mill pond mentioned above, but you will get a different perspective of it during the next detour.

For this second detour, retrace your steps to the start of the cycle path and continue ahead.  The sustaining wall of the pensile Largo Antonio Gramsci is in front pf you.  Walk along the left side and of it (along Via Porta Molini) and up the steps into the piazza (with the lovely apse of San Silvestro ahead).  Make a U-turn to your right here see the square towers that flank Porta Todi (which were once used for customs purposes), and  continue across the bridge: like Largo Antonio Gramsci, the gate towers and the bridge were built in 1881-96.   Having crossed the river, turn around to see:

  1. the mill pond (which you saw from a different perspective a moment ago), below on the left; and

  2. the cycle path along which you will soon be walking, below on the right.

Emporium and river port, from Camerieri and Manconi (referenced below, Figure 7)  

The land between the city walls and what is now Via Teverone was part of a riverine basin that served as a port bringing goods to Mevania in Roman times.  A wooden bridge here allowed merchandise to be hauled across the city wall and into the Roman warehouse under San Domenico (marked “Emporium in the reconstruction above - see Walk I) for onward transport on Via Flaminia (and vice versa).

Detour C (see below) to Santa Maria delle Grazie begins and ends at Porta Todi.

Return to Porta Todi and return down the steps and along Via Porta Molini  to the start of the cycle path.  Walk along it (i.e. under the arch of the bridge), with the river now on your right: as noted above, the cultivated land between the path and the river was once a riverine basin that served as the port of Roman Mevania.

A fine stretch of Roman foundations begins under the campanile of Santa Margherita.  This church stands at the end of the decumanus maximus of the Roman municipium, and must therefore have been the site of a Roman gate. 

The apse of the tiny church of Santa Maria de Ponte Lapidum can be seen slightly further along: it was named for an ancient stone bridge that took the road from this gate over the Clitunno.

Continue to Porta Foligno and retrace your steps along Corso Giacomo Matteotti to Piazza Filippo Silvestri, where the walk ends.

Detour A

This short detour to the church of the Madonna della Rosa and the site of the Roman amphitheatre begins and ends outside Porta Foligno.  The aerial view of the route illustrated above was constructed using this brilliant page from the website of Archeo Bevagna.

Cross Viale Properzio and continue along the SS 316 (which probably follows the line of the Roman Via Flaminia).  Two important archaeological discoveries were made on the site of the first petrol station on the left:

  1. A hoard of 911 coins, which included dateable coins from the period 211-115 BC, was found  here in 1929.  Part of this hoard is displayed [in Perugia - check]: unfortunately, the other part, which was originally exhibited locally, was later stolen.

  2. An altar top known as the mensa dei magistri Valetudinis with a Latin inscription (CIL XI 7926, first half of the 2nd century AD) that associates it with this magistracy was found here [when ?].  The altar top is now in the Museo Archeologico.

Continue to the abandoned church of the Madonna della Rosa on the left. 

A Roman mosaic was discovered in the grounds of the now-derelict villa Mattoli, opposite the church., which suggests the presence here of a villa.

There is no point in walking further along Via Flaminia, but it is interesting to note that there were two necropolises further along it on the left:

  1. an Iron Age necropolis (7th - 6th century BC) was discovered in the Vigna Boccolini in the early 20th century , but the grave goods have been dispersed; and

  2. seven funerary urns from the Republican period were discovered in the late 19th century at Fabbrica, just beyond it, on land belonging to the Serafini family.  The cover of an urn (ca. 100 BC) that contains an Umbrian inscription (see also the page on Umbrian Inscriptions  after 295BC) that was found here is now in the Museo Archeologico.

An elliptical depression in the field behind the church of the Madonna della Rosa provides the only evidence for the existence of a Roman amphitheatre belonging to Mevania.  If you walk a little way along Via Madonna della Rose, to the right of the church, you can see the fence around it on your left.

Retrace your steps towards Porta Foligno.  It is possible to get a better view of the site of the amphitheatre by taking a short detour on the way back (although, it truth, the site was more overgrown in 2017 that it was in 2010, when I took the photograph above, and there was not much to see): turn right along Via XXV Aprile and right again along Via Sant’ Anna.  Pass the Centro di Salute (Health Centre) and turn right along its wire fence (before Via Imbersato), across a field and down to the fence around the site. 

Continue to Porta Foligno, where the detour ends.

Detour B

This detour to the Chiesa dell’ Annunziata and Lake Aiso, which begins and ends at Porta Cannara, takes about 1 hour (ca. 5 km) return.

Leave Bevagna along the Cannara road (Via Alcide de Gasperi): the tabernacle of the Madonna del Cuore is at the the junction with Via Raggiolo on the left.  It contains a damaged fresco (15th century) of the Madonna and Child enthroned with angels, and is named for the fact that the Madonna holds a heart in her left hand.

A limestone sundial (ca. 100 BC) with an important Umbrian inscription (see the page on Umbrian Inscriptions  after 295BC) was ploughed up nearby in 1969 and is now in the Museo Archeologico, Perugia.  The inscription commemorates two men whose names can be Latinised as P. Nortinus and Ianto Aufidius, son of Titus, who each held what was probably a priestly post of quaestor responsible for the collection of tithes paid in spelt.  This office was probably analogous to that of “the two men who come to fetch the flour” for the sacrifice at the annual assemblies described in Table Vb of the Iguvine Tables of Gubbio.

You will pass Via Colle Poppo on the right, at the boundary between Bevagna and the village of Capro.  Remains that suggest the presence of a Roman necropolis (known as the necropoli di of Colle Poppo) that was in use in the Republican period have been found here.

Continue ahead and fork right after leaving Capro, along Via SS Annunziata (the SP 403 to Cannara) to the tabernacle (1993), which contains a depiction in maiolica of the Annunciation. 

Fork left along Via del Convento to the Chiesa dell’ Annunziata, with the cemetery directly behind it. 

Turn left on leaving the convent along another branch of Via del Convento to rejoin Via SS Annunziata. 

The aerial view above of the next part of the route, which leads to two Ancient cult sites, was constructed using this   page from the website of Archeo Bevagna.  Turn left along Via SS Annunziata and then right along Via del Aiso, following signs to Lago dell’ Aiso. 

  1. This small all, deep freshwater lake surrounded by trees is on the left.  Bronze votive offerings (6th - 5th century BC) that were found here in the 18th century suggest that this was an ancient cult site that was probably devoted to a river god.
  2. The second  site, the Laghetto dell’ Aisillo, is on private land.  To reach it, turn right, just beyond Lago dell’ Aiso, along Via del Rio: the excavations of the cult site here that were carried out in 2004-5 took place in the field to your right.

Retrace your steps along the SP403.  If you have a car, a detour of some 6 km to the right brings you to Piandarca, outside Cannara: a tabernacle (1926) on the right here commemorates the fact that the place in which St Francis famously preached to the birds in ca. 1212 is in the nearby field.

Return to Porta Cannara, where the detour ends.

Detour C

This detour to Santa Maria delle Grazie, which begins and ends at Porta Todi, takes about an hour return and involves a steep climb.

Leave Bevagna through Porta Todi, and cross the bridges over both branches of the river. 

Two bronze discs (7th century BC), which probably came from a female grave, were found in 1880 outside Bevagna, on the road to Todi.  They are now in the deposit of the Museo Archeologico, Perugia.  (This illustration of them is from the museum).

Fork right along Via Madonna delle Grazie. 

The shrine on the left, which stands at the city limit, at the junction with Via Michele Lilli, records the barabric murder by of Don Michele Lilli, the priest at Santa Maria in Laurenzia, by German soldiers in 1944, when the alliance between Germany and Italy had ended.

You can see the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie ahead, the top of the hill, and will arrive there after a climb of some  2.5 km.

Return to Porta Todi, where the detour ends.

Read more:

S. Sisani, “I Rapporti tra Mevania e Hispellum nel Quadro del Paesaggio Sacro della Valle Umbra,, in

  1. G. Della Fina (Ed.), “Il Fanum Voltumnae e i Santuari Comunitari dell’ Italia Antica”, (2012) Orvieto (pp. 409-64)

P. Camerieri and D. Manconi, “Le Centuriazioni della Valle Umbra da Spoleto a Perugia”, Bollettino di Archeolgic Online, (2010) 15-39

Return to Walks in Bevagna.