Key to Umbria: Spoleto

Roman Walls and Gates

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Walk I follows a route that is confined by the walls of the Roman city. 

Roman Walls (4th - 1st centuries BC) 

[History of the walls]

Via Cecili

At least three phases of construction can be seen in a fine stretch of the walls in Via Cecili:
  1. the irregular blocks of the pre-Roman walls (4th century BC);

  2. the squared limestone blocks from the original walls of the Roman colony (ca. 241 BC); and

  3. blocks laid during the restoration of the walls that was necessitated by the damage done by Sulla in 82 BC and by the earthquake of 63 BC.

The fence in front of the walls encloses the remains of a tower that once formed a bastion, which Giuseppe Sordini excavated in 1886.  

A long stretch of the Roman wall that was excavated in Viale Matteotti [link] during the building of a moving walkway in 2006.  It is exposed inside the foyer, along with a plaster cast of a long inscription: the original inscription is in another important stretch of the walls in the private garden above, which once belonged to the Piperno family.  It records the names of the two quattroviri who restored it: the existence of these magisterial posts suggests that the restoration was carried out after 90 BC, the date at which Spoleto became a municipium.

Via delle Mura Ciclopiche 

This street  is so-named because it follows the line of a fortified road that ran along  the outside of the walls from Porta Ponziano.  Remains of the fortifications can be seen at number 28.  

It originally continued steeply up to the acropolis (later the site of the Rocca).  However, it now ends in Piazza del Duomo.  (The facade of the Duomo can be seen at the top of the steps, to the left, in this photograph).

Via Egio

This photograph shows a stretch of the Roman walls in a private garden in Via Egio (to the right of the trees). 

A contiguous stretch to the left of it, which was excavated during the building of the new moving walkway in 2006, can be seen in its foyer in Viale Matteotti (behind the lamp post in the photograph above).

The foyer has an explanatory panel that includes this photograph of an inscription (CIL XI 4809) in the walls above Via Egio, in which the name P. Marcus P. Hister, is legible. 

The foyer also contains this plaster cast of the whole inscription, which reads:






This records that Publius Marcus Hister, son of Publius and Caius Maenius Rufus, son of Caius, both of whom were “quattuorviri iure” (two of the four magistrates with judicial power), had been authorised by the local Senate to undertake what was presumably the restoration of the wall at some time after the earthquake of 63 BC.

The explanatory panel says that the lower part of the wall in the garden is similar to that excavated in the foyer: both stretches are made up of large, irregular blocks without cement.  However, the upper part of the wall in the garden has been rebuilt using smaller, regular blocks held together by cement.  This was presumably the result of the restoration commemorated in the inscription.  Some scholars have suggested that this work was carried out after 82 BC, when Sulla sacked the municipium.   However, others believe that script used in the inscription dates to much later in the century. 

Roman Gates

Arco di Monterone (ca. 241 BC)

This arch was probably built in the walls when they were renovated at the time of the creation of the Roman colony.  There were in fact four gates in this circuit, but none of the others survive.   Traffic from a spur of Via Flaminia entered the city here and then passed through the Arco di Druso into the forum.

The street level is much higher than it was in Roman times, so that the arch is less than half its original height.

Porta San Lorenzo (13th century)

Piazza di Porta San Lorenzo (illustrated here) was the site of a Roman gate that is recorded in the statutes of 1296 as Porta San Lorenzo.  It was so-called because the road here led to the church of San Lorenzo at Terzo la Pieve.

Porta Fuga (13th century) 

This arch stands on the site of a Roman gate though which a spur of Via Flaminia entered the city.  Traces of the Roman paving can be seen to the sides.

The inscription in the lunette between the two arches records that the gate is named in memory of the repulse of Hannibal when he reached Spoletium in 217 BC, having defeated the Romans at Lake Trasimeno.

Porta Ponzianino (13th century) 

The remains of this medieval gate stand at the only point at which the circuits of the medieval and Roman walls coincided.  There must have been a Roman gate on or near this site that led to a bridge over the Tessino.

The soldiers of the Emperor Frederick I swept through the earlier gate when they stormed the city in 1155. 

Return to Monuments of Spoleto.

Return to Walk II or

for the stretch of the Roman wall that coincides with the medieval circuit, to Walk III.