Key to Umbria: Foligno


The plain around modern Foligno was the site of a lake or swamp area in pre-Roman times, which is known as the Lacus Umber.  An Umbrian people whom the Romans called Fulginates occupied the slopes to the east of it.  Excavations have also revealed hill fort used by these people at Monte di Pale some 10 km north east of Foligno.

Another Umbrian people who called themselves Plestini lived on the shores of a lake (drained in the 15th century) on the upland plateau to the east of modern Colfiorito that forms an important pass across the Apennines.  The settlement, which later became Roman Plestia, was near the church of Santa Maria di Plestia.

For more details, see the page on Ancient Foligno.


The diffuse pattern of habitation of the Plestini and the Fulginates changed radically after the Romans defeated the Umbrians at the Battle of Sentinum. 

  1. The Plestini concentrated on a new settlement that the Romans called Plestia on the shores of the upland lake, near the site of the Iron Age villages mentioned above. 

  2. The Fulginates similarly became concentrated in a new settlement of Fulginia. 

  3. It used to be thought that this was on the site of the modern city. 

  4. This theory was abandoned in the light of research in the 1980s, which revealed that the settlement was on what is now the archaeological area on the other side of the railway lines. 

  5. A recently published book has however assembled evidence that might lead scholars back to the original hypothesis.

According to Giovanni Uggeri (referenced below, at p. 105), the geographer Guidone placed Foligno at the intersection of three of the routes that he described in his ‘Geographica’(1119), which included a description of the road network if Italy in the middle of the 4th century:

  1. on the eastern branch of Via Flaminia, between Nocera and Spoleto; and

  2. on two transversal routes from Foligno:

  3. towards the west, via Spello, Assisi and Perugia to Cortona; and

  4. towards the east, via Plestia to Ancona.

For more details, see the pages on:

  1. Roman Fulginia:  From Conquest to Municipalisation:  Page (1);    Page 2

  2. Roman Fulginia: after Municipalisation

  3. Location of Roman Fulginia

  4. Roman Walk I around the putative  Roman city in the area of Santa Maria in Campis;   

  5. Roman Walk II around the putative  Roman city on the later site of medieval and modern Foligno; and

  6. Roman Walk III, around the putative  Roman bridges in modern Foligno

  7. Forum Flaminii

  8. Plestia (main page)

  9. Octoviri at Plestia  

  10. Municpalisation of Plestia

Foligno in the 6th - 8th Centuries

For more details, see the page on Goths and Lombards.

Civitas Fulginia (8th - 11th Century)

For more details, see the page on Civitas Fulginia.

Foligno in the 12th and 13th Centuries

For more details, see the page on Foligno in the 12th and 13th Centuries.

14th century

War between Perugia and Foligno erupted again in 1305.  Perugia, with its allies of Spoleto and the Guelf exiles from Foligno took the city.  Corrado di Anastasio degli Anastasi was exiled to Todi and his brother, Bishop Ermanni degli Anastasi was transferred.  The Perugians installed Rinaldo (Nallo) Trinci (1305-21) as Capitano del Popolo, marking the start of the period of Trinci rule of Foligno that was to last until 1439.  

The newly-elected Pope Clement V (the first to reign from Avignon) convened a parliament of the cities of the Duchy of Spoleto in Foligno in 1305, thereby (inter alia) putting the papal seal of approval on the new régime.

Ghibelline Revolt (1308-53)

In 1308, during the march into Italy of Henry of Luxembourg ( who was crowned as the Emperor Henry IV in 1312), the Ghibellines led by Corrado di Anastasio threatened Foligno, which appealed for help to Perugia. 

Foligno supported Perugia in its war against Spoleto in 1309.    However, despite the fact that the city was in danger from its exiled Ghibelines, Perugia refused permission for the construction of a new city walls.  The authorities had to be content with the amplification of the system of defensive ditches around the city.

Foligno joined the Guelf Umbrian League in 1315. 

Ugolino I Trinci (1321-38)

When Rinaldo Trinci died, his brother Ugolino I Trinci, who was probably already in military service for Perugia, succeeded him as leader of the Guelf party and Gonfaloniere di Giustzia.  He worked closely with two of his nephews (Rinaldo’s sons):

  1. Corrado, who succeeded him on his death as Corrado I Trinci (see below); and

  2. Paolo Trinci, who was Bishop of Foligno from 1326 until his death in 1363.

As commander of the Perugian militia, Ugolino I played an important role in the Guelf victories over the Ghibellines of Assisi (in 1322) and Spoleto (in 1324).  In 1328, Ugolino I foiled a surprise attack on the city by the Emperor Louis of Bavaria.  He was thus at the heart of the Guelf cause in central Italy.  He consequently enjoyed the esteem of Pope John XXII, who:

  1. granted indulgences in 1321 for a chapel in San Francesco, Foligno that had been endowed by his wife;

  2. gave his approval of the appointment of his nephew, the young Paolo Trinci as bishop of Foligno in 1326; and

  3. awarded him a pension in 1329.

However, Ugolino I and his nephews engaged in a series of activities from ca. 1330 that led to expressions of papal outrage.  These offences included:

  1. robbery committed against merchants travelling near Foligno;

  2. the seizure of papal fortresses;

  3. the incitement of anti-papal activity in Gubbio and other Guelf cities in the Duchy of Spoleto;

  4. an attack on the rector of the Duchy of Spoleto in his fortress at Montefalco and the occupation of part of the surrounding area; and

  5. abuses at Bevagna after Corrado was appointed as Gonfaloniere di Giustzia there in 1334.

Pope Benedict XII, who was elected following the death of John XXII in 1334, wrote to the Commune of Perugia in 1335 to express his amazement that the city had not intervened to end the rebellion. 

Corrado I Trinci (1338-43) and Ugolino Novello Trinci (1343-53)

As noted above, Corrado I Trinci became the effective ruler of Foligno on the death of his uncle, Ugolino I.  He married Agnese, the daughter of Baglione Baglioni of Perugia.  They had two sons, both of whom became monks at the Abbazia di Sassovivo. 

In 1340, King Robert of Naples sent Bishop Paolo Trinci as  his ambassador to Pope Benedict XII at Avignon.  His task was to persuade the Benedict XII to allow Robert's brother-in-law, Brother Philip of Majorca to live according to the primitive Franciscan rule.  The mission was unsuccessful.

When Corrado died, his brother Ugolino Novello Trinci succeeded him because his sons were in religious orders.

In 1346, Perugia summoned representatives of all the cities it controlled, including Foligno, to a Parliament, in order to form a Guelf force that evicted the Ghibellines from Orvieto.

Cardinal Albornoz (1353-67)

Trincia Trinci (1353-77), succeeded his father, Ugolino Novello.  He was assisted by his uncle, Bishop Paolo Trinci (died 1363).

At the time that Cardinal Gil Albornoz arrived in Italy as papal legate in 1353, intent upon reasserting papal control in central Italy, it seems that the loyalty of the Trinci (and particularly of Bishop Paolo Trinci) was suspect.

The mercenary Fra Moriale returned to Umbria in June 1354, and ravaged the territories of Spello and Bevagna.  However, he reached an accord with Bishop Paolo Trinci to leave Foligno unharmed and to pay a fair price for supplies he purchased there.  Paolo Trinci also secured a similar arrangement on behalf of Assisi.

When Albornoz defeated Giovanni di Vico and regained control of the Patrimony of St Peter in 1354, Trincia Trinci apparently decided to support the papal cause.  There is no surviving documentary evidence of a formal submission, but it seems that Albornoz established his base of operations at Foligno from late 1354. 

Via del Cassero is named for a fortress that was demolished in 1439: Durante Dorio, in his “Istoria della Famiglia Trinci” (1638), asserted that Trincia Trinci built it in 1355 with the agreement of Albornoz, who was then resident in Foligno.

When Urban V undermined Albornoz by appointing Androin de la Roche as legate for Lombardy and the Romagna and Vicar of Bologna in 1363, Albornoz sent Trincia Trinci to Avignon to request that Innocent VI should recall him, but this was denied.  He also asked Urban V to release Trincia Trinci from his vow to visit the shrine of St Antony Abbot at Vienne (presumably after he had been cured of St Antony’s fire. or herpes).  Whether  or not this was granted is unknown.

Albornoz was based in Foligno during the battle in 1367 at which Perugia was defeated.

Trinci Lords (1367-1439)

In 1367, shortly after the death of Albornoz, Urban V appointed Trincia Trinci as papal vicar of Foligno, and agreed that this title should be hereditary.  This marked the formal recognition and legitimisation of the de facto situation.  

In 1369, Perugia devastated Foligno and as a consequence was excommunicated.

In 1371, Pope Gregory XI extended the vicariate of Trincia Trinci by six years and gave  Bevagna to Foligno.

In 1375, during the unrest caused by the Perugian rebellion, Bevagna rebelled against Trinci rule.  Two Franciscans, Beati Filippo and Giacomo, were among those that Trinci’s Breton mercenaries murdered.  Their bodies were thrown in the river, and miraculously floated against the current to Foligno, where the church bells rang spontaneously.  Their relics are still preserved in San Francesco, Foligno. 

Trincia Trinci subsequently rebuilt Bevagna, fortifying it with walls and towers in 1377.

In 1377, an army of the Florentine League of Liberty devastated the contado.  Ghibelline exiles led by Corradino and Napoleone Brancaleone murdered Trincia Trinci. 

However, their rule was unpopular and Trincia’s brother, Corrado II Trinci (1377-86) was returned to power as Capitano di Parte Guelfa.

[Montefalco passed to the Trinci in 1379.]

A three-year truce with Perugia was agreed in 1382.

Ugolino III (1386-1415)

On Corrado’s death, Trincia’s son succeeded as Ugolino III Trinci.  He built Palazzo Trinci (1389-1407) and commissioned important frescoes (1411) for it from Gentile da Fabriano.

Ugolino was loyal to the papacy for almost the whole of his reign.

Ugolino took Nocera, which remained subject to Foligno in the period 1392-1439

In 1392, Pope Boniface IV granted the title of papal vicar to Ugolino III Trinci, with full powers over Foligno, Nocera Umbra, Bevagna and Montefalco with all their castles. This was partly at the expense of Todi.

In October 1392, Boniface IV and seven cardinals stayed in Palazzo Trinci.

In 1393, the Trinci were included in the peace that was agreed between Boniface IX and Biordo Michelotti of Perugia.

Biordo Michelotti defeated Ugolino Trinci near Bevagna in 1395.  Malatesta Malatesta, Ceccolino dei Michelotti and the Conte da Carrara subsequently sacked the contado.  This provoked rebellion in Nocera Umbra.

In 1395 the people of Todi allied themselves with Biordo Michelotti against Ugolino III: a ferocious battle was fought near Bevagna, with heavy losses on both sides.

In 1396, Malatesta di Pandolfo da Rimini, Ceccolino dei Michelotti and the Conte da Carrara attacked and devastated Foligno and encouraged rebellion in its contado, including at Nocera Umbra.

After the death of Biordo (1398), Ugolino III, on behalf of the Church, recaptured much of what he had lost.  He joined Mostrada da Forlì and Paolo Orsini in renewed fighting against the remaining Michelotti faction in Perugia.  The allies quickly retook for the papacy: Nocera Umbra, Todi, Orvieto, Gualdo Tadino, Bastia Umbra, Spello and Cesi.  Nocera Umbra and Trevi fell under the control of the Trinci, and Ugolini III moved on to join the papal forces besieging Perugia.

Ugolino III and Cecciolo Brogia occupied Assisi in October 1398.

Ugolino III finally made his peace with Ceccolino Michelotti, under the auspices of Florence, in 1399.

15th century

From ca. 1412, Ugolino III Trinci became a staunch ally of Braccio Fortebracci.

He entered the service of the anti-pope John XXIII in 1413, and was confirmed in his vicarate of Foligno, Nocera Umbra, Bevagn and Montefalco.  He also gained Bettona.  His fortunes reversed in 1413 when the soldiers of King Ladislas of Naples occupied much of his territory.  Nocera Uumbra fell to Ceccolino Michelotti in 1414, just before peace was finally restored.

Ugolino III died in 1415, and was buried in the family chapel in San Francesco.

His three sons by Costanza Orsini, Nicolò, Bartolomeo and Corrado, ruled for the next five years.

Nicolò Trinci emerged as the leading Trinci lord in 1420.  He inherited ascendancy over Assisi, Spello, Bevagna, Montefalco, Nocera and Trevi and remained a firm ally of Braccio Fortebraccio.

In 1421, the castellan of Nocera, Pietro di Rasiglia suspected his wife of adultery with Nicolò Trinci.  He held a party at which he arranged the murder of  his wife and his Trinci guests.  Nicolò and his brother Bartolomeo were murdered, although their younger brother  Corrado escaped the massacre.  A period of chaos ensued in Foligno but Corrado returned to rule as Corrado III Trinci (1424-39).

Montefalco remained under the Trinci family's control, until 1424 when it submitted to Francesco Sforza.

Pope Martin V censured Corrado III after Braccio's death in 1424, but he managed to hold on to power.  Indeed, he briefly occupied Gualdo Tadino (1432-3) until Martin V gave it to Francesco Sforza.

Montefalco reverted to Trinci rule in 1438-9.

In 1439, Pope Eugenius IV sent a force against Foligno led by Cardinale Giovanni Vitelleschi, who came from Foligno.  The inhabitants opened their gates and Corrado III was captured.  He was humiliated by being paraded before the walls of the enemy city of Spoleto, and then beheaded.  His sons were imprisoned and his property was confiscated.

Rinaldo Trinci was the son of Corrado Trinci and prior of San Salvatore.  The canons also elected him as Bishop of Foligno in 1437, although this was not recognised by Eugenius IV.  After the fall of Foligno in 1439, Rinaldo joined the company of Nicolò Piccinino and then secured the protection of Francesco Sforza.  He died in Milan in 1452.)

Foligno's splendour began to fade thereafter.

Pope Alexander IV sold Gualdo Cattaneo (on the border between Todi, Foligno and Perugia) to Foligno in 1493.  This led to the voluntary exile of many citizens of Gualdo Cattaneo who were allied to the Baglioni of Perugia.  The Commune of Foligno soon built a fortress there (which still survives). 

In September 1495, Foligno employed the mercenaries Antonio and Troilo Savelli to attack the Baglioni of Perugia, who were besieging Perugian exiles in la Fratta.  One of these, Ludovico degli Ermanni, persuaded the Savelli to invade Perugia itself.  This attack almost succeeded, but the Baglioni managed to regroup. Ludovico degli Ermanni was killed and Troilo Savelli was captured, while Antonio Savelli and the Perugian exiles who managed to escape evacuated their erstwhile strongholds in the contado.  The victorious Perugians marched on Foligno and devastated its contado, before laying siege to Gualdo Cattaneo.  The fortress managed to withstand this attack: the Baglioni seem to have blamed their ally Virginio Orsini, whom they thought had been bribed by Foligno.

Later History

Pope Julius II stayed at the convent of San Bartolomeo di Brogliano on June 16th 1511.

In 1527, troops of the Emperor Charles V sacked Foligno on their way to Rome.

In 1628, Foligno was proclaimed the city of the Virgin.

Bishop Antonio Montecatini (1643-68) established the diocesan seminary in 1649.

Giuseppe Piermarini was born in 1734 in a house in what is now Via Pignatura.  He moved to Rome in 1752 to study architecture under Carlo Murena.  He then worked under Luigi Vanvitelli, whom he followed to Milan to work on the restoration of the Palazzo Reale for the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.  Piermarini was appointed as the “Imperial Regio Architetto” of Milan in 1769.  His work there included the construction of the Teatro alla Scala (1776-8).  He also restored the Palazzo Brera and was appointed a professor of the Accademia di Brera, which was established there in 1776. When the Empress died in 1880, Piermarini continued to work for her son, Archduke Ferdinand, who became Governor of Lombardy.  When the Archduke was driven from Milan in 1796 by Napoleon’s army, Piermarini returned to Foligno.


Article in “The Tablet”, August 14, 1892

“Mgr. Federico Federici, Bishop of Foligno, was murdered the other day in the railway on the Florence line between Assisi and Foligno. He. was on his way to Foligno from the Baths of Montecatini, where he had been on a visit to some of his relations. He was in a 1st class compartment, while his servant was in an adjoining 3rd class carriage.  ... On arriving at Foligno the servant immediately went to help his master down from the carriage. On opening the door, however, a frightful spectacle presented itself to him. The Bishop was on the floor of the carriage in a pool of blood, and just expiring. His head was smashed open. His pastoral ring, a very fine emerald, was on the ground near him, as also the cross, the chain of which had been broken, It was evidently a case of robbery, but the robber, surprised by an unexpected resistance (for there were evident signs of a struggle on the part of the Bishop), and, probably knowing that the train was nearing a station, got out leaving what he had intended to steal, that is, the cross and chain and ring. The police were at once sent up and down the lines and telegrams were despatched to the different stations and very soon it was known that a man had been arrested who had been seen at a station near Foligno with his clothes covered with blood and lame, probably the effect of his jump from the train. This man's name is Annibale Poggioni, 28 years of age, who, it is almost certain, is the assassin”.

Annibale Poggioni, an anti-clerical anarchist, was indeed found guilty and executed.

Read more:

P. Guerrini and F. Latini, “Dal Municipium Romano alla Civitas Medievale: Archeologia e Storia di una Città Umbra”, (2012) Spoleto

G. Uggeri, “L' Organizzazione della Viabilità in Umbria nella Tarda Antichità”, in

  1. Umbria Cristiana: Dalla Diffusione del Culto al Culto dei Santi”, Spoleto (2001)

E. Paoli, “ L' Agiografia Umbra Altomedievale”, in

  1. Umbria Cristiana: dalla Diffusione del Culto al Culto dei Santi (secc. IV-X): Atti del XV Congresso Internazionale di Studi sull' Alto Medioevo (Spoleto, 23-28 Ottobre 2000)”, Spoleto (2001) pp 479-529 

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