Key to Umbria: Terni

Piazza della Repubblica

The walk begins in Piazza della Repubblica, which is on the site of the Roman forum.   The ex-Palazzo Comunale (illustrated above), stands at the centre of this huge space.  For the purpose of orientation, stand to face it:

  1. a spur of Via Flaminia that became the cardo maximus passed along the line of today’s Corso Vecchio (to your left) and Via Roma (across the piazza, to your right); and

  2. the decumanus maximus ran at right angles to it along the line of today’s Via Cavour (to your right and behind you) and Via Giuseppe Garibaldi (parallel to the right side of Palazzo Comunale).

The area has never been systematically excavated, but it is likely that the forum occupied not only today’s Piazza della Repubblica but also much of Piazza Solferino, behind Palazzo Comunale.

By the 11th century, the piazza was known as Platea Columnarum, in reference to a recovered  Roman column that was erected here.  This column was still standing in 1640, when it was depicted in a bird’s eye view of the city published by Domizio Gubernari.  The Roman capital that has been embedded in the wall of the shops to the left of the church of San Giovannino (see below), near the junction with Via Roma, probably came from this column.  Later in the Middle Ages, Piazza della Repubblica became known as Piazza Maggiore.  The remains of a Roman temple were found here in the 1940s.

A narrow alley known as the Vicolo del Moro originally ran along the right side of Palazzo Comunale.  This alley now houses a narrow building: the elegant portal of the shop on the ground floor has a worn inscription on its architrave with the date 1897.  A block of properties on the other side of this alley belonged to the Confraternita di San Nicandro.   This complex was badly damaged during the bombardment of the Second World War and subsequently demolished, to be replaced by the present bland building.

Begin a circuit of Piazza della Repubblica at the north end, to the left of Palazzo Comunale.  

  1. Luigi Manni, a prominent local politician, built  Palazzo Manni (1835) here, incorporating a number of earlier structures.  He provided a room in the palace, free of charge, for the first Cassa di Risparmio (savings bank) in Terni in 1846.  The palace was cut off at the left when Corso Tacito was opened up in 1870.  [A fresco of the Virgin adoring the baby Jesus, which was discovered on the facade in 1995, is attributed to Benozzo Gozzoli.]
  2. Continuing in an anti-clockwise direction, the first palace on the west side of the piazza stands on the site of Palazzo di Cremesina Paradisi, which housed the Monti di Pietà from  its inception in 1467.  This palace was demolished when Corso Tacito was opened, and the Monti di Pietà moved to Palazzo Mazzancolli in 1879.  Cesare Bazzani designed its replacement, Palazzo Pontecorvi (1902-16), for the Pontecorvi family.  Spartaco Pazzaglia opened his famous cake shop on the ground floor of the palace in 1913.
  3. The Fontana di Piazza (1684), which stood to the left and in front of Palazzo di Cremesina Paradisi, was demolished in 1887.  (You will see two sphinxes from the fountain later in the walk).

  4. Cesare Bazzani also designed what is now the ex-Palazzo delle Poste (1921-36).  In 2000, during work on the construction of a new underground car park behind the palace, traces of a Roman basilica were found.  Architectural fragments from these excavations are exhibited in the Museo Archeologico.  
  5. This was previously the site of the church of San Giovanni Decollato (1566-76), which belonged to the Confraternita di San Giovanni Decollato.  Its facade was completed (or perhaps rebuilt) in 1748.  The church was demolished in 1921.  Architectural fragments from the church are preserved in the Civic Lapidiary Collection.  Piazza di San Giovanni Decollato, behind Palazzo delle Poste, is the only other reminder of the church.

  6. Palazzo Giocosi (15th century) is the next palace to the left.  Buildings in front of it were demolished in the 19th century and its facade was rebuilt to line up with that of San Giovanni Decollato. 

  1. Traces of the original palace survive at the corner on the left, in Via Cavour.

  1. Palazzo Mariani, which  was part of the post-war reconstruction of Terni, overshadows the church of San Giovannino (see below).

From Piazza della Repubblica to the site of Porta Romana


Leave Piazza della Repubblica along Via Roma, following the Roman cardo maximus.  The church of San Giovanni Evangelista de Platea (San Giovannino) is on the corner, on the left.  The Roman capital mentioned above is embedded in the left wall.

Turn right on leaving the church into Piazza Europa, which was created after the buildings that stood here were destroyed in the Second World War.  Cross the piazza diagonally to the right to the facade of Palazzo Spada

Cross the inner courtyard of Palazzo Spada and leave by its rear entrance, into Via Roma (to the right in this photograph).

Turn left along Via Roma.  Largo Stanislao Falchi, immediately on the right, is named for the Italian composer (died 1922).  The inscription on the house to the right records that he was born here.   The Politeama Lucioli is at the back of the square. 

Palazzo Pierfelici, a little further along on the left stands on the site of a Roman domus.  It has a fine portal (16th century), and there are, apparently, frescoes by Girolamo Troppa inside.

Torre Barbarasa stands beyond it, on the left, at the junction with Via Ercole Barbarasa. 

Take a short detour along Via Ercole Barbarasa to see the house on the right in which the famous opera singer, Nera Marmora (died 1924) was born.

Continue along Via Roma into Piazza Briccialdi.  This piazza is named for the composer and flautist  Giulio Briccialdi (died 1881): the inscription on the house on the right as you enter the piazza records that he was born here.  

Cross the piazza, past the war memorial (1926) on the right, which was moved here from Piazza Tacito (see Walk II) in 1932.

Continue to Viale del Cassero: the point at which this street joins the piazza  corresponds to the probable location of the Porta Romana, at the south end of the walled city.  The street is named for the Cassero (fortress) that Cardinal Gil Albornoz built here in ca. 1354.  It was demolished in 1442.  The church of Santa Maria del Cassero, which was built here in 1546, was demolished in 1841.

Cross Viale Aleardi Aleardo and take the footbridge (Ponte de Ferro) across the river.  There was probably a bridge here in Roman times, taking Via Flaminia across the Nera.  Its succcessors, which were known as Ponte di Sant’ Antonio or Ponte Romano, were sequentially destroyed by floods: they  were replaced by bridges on the site of the current road bridge (see below) that you can see to your left as you cross the Ponte de Ferro.

Turn left along Via Quattro Macine and follow it behind and then along the side of the petrol station to the junction with the busy Via XX Settembre, to the junction with Corso del Popolo.

Turn left along Corso del Popolo, which was laid out in the 1960s to provide a modern entrance to the city.  The bridge across the river (which you saw from the footbridge) stands on the site of  Ponte Romano (1605), which was destroyed in the bombardment of the Second World War.

Cross the bridge and continue to the roundabout, and the imposing sculture (1995) by Arnaldo Pomodoro called the Lancia della Luce (Lance of Light).  This obelisk, which is over 30 meters in height, is the symbol of modern Terni.

Cross the roundabout and take the next turning on the left along Viale dell’ Annunziata.  This street is named for the Franciscan nunnery of  SS Annunziata, which was demolished  in the 1960s when Corso del Popolo was opened up.  Continue back to Piazza Briccialdi.

From the site of Porta Romana to Porta Sant’ Angelo

Cross the piazza and continue along Via delle Mura: the sustaining wall of the public gardens incorporate travertine blocks from the Roman walls (ca. 270 BC) of the city.  The line of the city walls here has remained unchanged, although they were reduced in height and rendered level in 1783. 

A circular tower (14th century) at the south west corner collapsed in 1913 and was replaced by steps up to the Passeggiata (see below).   Turn right here (but do not climb the steps) into Parco Gianfranco Caiurro, which is named for the mayor of Terni in 1993-9.

Continue along the path under the walls, which are still clearly built on Roman foundations.

Continue to the point at which the walls turn to the left, forming a terrace for Via Cavour.  Turn left to Porta Sant’ Angelo.

The detour to Santa Maria del Monumento begins and ends here.

From Porta Sant’ Angelo to Piazza della Repubblica


With Porta Sant’ Angelo behind you, walk along Via Cavour, which was the decumanus maximus of the Roman city.   There is a Roman sarcophagus with a relief of a battle between Roman soldiers and Amazons (illustrated above) embedded in the wall at number 111 on the left.

Take a short detour by turning left into Via del Leone, which runs through Casa Laurenzi (rebuilt in the 19th century) at number 101-5. 

The damaged fresco (late 16th century) on the left under the arch depicts the Virgin Immaculate with St Antony of Padua. 

The ex-church of San Marco is on the right, at the end of the street. 

Continue into Piazza San Francesco and the church of San Francesco.

Turn left on leaving San Francesco, cross the piazza and continue along Via Nobili.  Turn right along Via Frattini.  This was previously part of the Via delle Carrozze, which (as noted above) provided a route suitable for carriages traveling from the Duomo to Porta Spoletina (see below).    This takes you back to Via Cavour: turn left to Largo Gregorio Mazzancolli:

  1. with Palazzo Mazzancolli on the right; and

  1. Santa Croce on the left.

Turn right along Via Tre Colonne.  Remains of the Roman theatre have been found in many of the houses in the “island” formed by Via Tre Colonne, Via XI Febbraio (which is parallel to it, to your right), and the two roads that connect them: Via del Teatro Romano and Via Ludovico Aminale. 

Turn right along Via del Teatro Romano, past Palazzo Gazzoli, on the right, and continue to the junction with Via XI Febbraio.   This was previously part of the Via delle Carrozze, which provided a route suitable for carriages traveling from the Duomo to Porta Spoletina (see below).  The street was widened in the 19th century.   [What happened on the 11th February?]

Turn right along Via XI Febbraio and then left along Via Sant’ Alò to see the church of Sant’ Alò

Continue along Via Sant’ Alò and turn left at the end along Via Fabrizi and immediately right along Viale Giannelli and into the public gardens, which known locally as the Passeggiata.  This road is named for Domenico Giannelli, the engineer who laid out the gardens in 1846, after the Commune had acquired  part of the gardens of Palazzo Vescovile (see below).  The walls that you followed earlier through Parco Gianfranco Caiurro are below on the right.

Fork left and follow the path behind the apse and transepts of the Duomo (see below).  A sphinx from the Fontana di Piazza (1684), which was originally in Piazza delle Repubblica (see above), stands in the playground in front of the apse.

The wall of the garden of Palazzo Vescovile (see below) begins immediately after the left transept of the Duomo.  This wall is built on the foundations of the amphitheatre (see below) and contains visible fragments of the Roman construction.

Follow the wall to the ex-church of Santa Maria del Carmine, where further evidence of the Roman amphitheatre can be seen.

Continue into the piazza in front of the church.

A second sphinx from the Fontana di Piazza (1684) stands to the left in this piazza.

The more substantial remains of the Roman amphitheatre survive to the right of this church, the lantern of which can be seen to the right in this photograph.

If the park around the amphitheatre is open, walk around the walls and into Piazza del Duomo.  If the park is closed, you have two options:
  1. continue along Viale Giannelli and turn left along Via dell’ Anfiteatro Fausto into Piazza del Duomo; or

  2. retrace your steps as far as the left transept of the Duomo and turn right through the courtyard of Palazzo Vescovile to reach the piazza.

In any event, it is worth making sure that you see the substantial remains of the amphitheatre in Via dell’ Anfiteatro before exploring Piazza del Duomo.

Bishop Cardinal Francesco Angelo Rapaccioli was responsible for the harmonious layout Piazza del Duomo as part of his project of rebuilding the Duomo in 1653.  Gian Lorenzo Bernini may have played some part in the design. 

The Duomo dominates the piazza, with:

  1. Palazzo Vescovile to the left; and

  1. Palazzo del Seminario to the right.  The latter houses the Museo Diocesano.

Palazzo Rosci (or Bianchini Riccardi) (16th century) stands on the opposite side of the piazza, to the left (to the left in this illustration). 

The fountain (1935) in front of number 4, to the right of Palazzo Rosci, is by Corrado Vigni and represents the linking of the rivers Velino and Nera to form the Cascata delle Marmore.

Leave Piazza del Duomo along Via dell’ Arringo, which was probably named for public meetings (literally “harangues”) that were held here in the Middle Ages.  Turn left at the end along Via Roma, back Piazza della Repubblica, where the walk ends.

Return to Walks around Terni.

Return to the home page on Terni.

Walk I: to San Francesco and the Duomo

Umbria:  Home   Cities    History    Art    Hagiography    Contact 


Terni:  Home    History    Art    Saints    Walks    Drives    Monuments    Museums