Assisi basilica

The imposing Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi consists of two churches; the lower one in Romanesque style dates from around 1230, and the upper church in Gothic style opened in 1253.

The greatest artists of the 13th and 14th century (Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti) worked on the decoration of the Basilica, and left on its walls the most complex examples of medieval Italian painting.

Favignana caves

The inscriptions in the caves at Favignana are very interesting and have been the subject of a great deal of research. This article looks at some of the outcome of the research...

Scholars who have distinguished themselves for the discovery and interpretation of various Punic inscriptions here were Anna Maria Bisi [1] and Benedetto Rocco [2].

The ancient town of Cuma (also called Cumae) was an important ancient town close to the busy current city of Naples, and traces of this earlier city can still be seen nearby. It is interesting before visiting to have some appreciation of the long history of Cuma that stretches back almost 3000 years...

History of Dozza

The territory around Dozza has been inhabited since prehistoric times, but only scattered settlement remains still exist from the Roman period and the Early Medieval Age, and only one larger cluster of houses has been found in nearby Toscanella (1).

The site of Dozza in ancient times was a fertile land full of springs, so it is conceivable that it was a strategically important place, maybe even defended by a fortified Roman camp. However this is only a partial hypothesis based on linguistic rather than on historical observed data.

Early history of Triora

According to a widely accepted hypothesis, the small fortified village of Triora and its castle were founded in the early period of the Lombard domination in Liguria and served as a refuge for diverse indigenous populations, and which provided protection from the ravages made into Liguria by the Lombard King Rothari in the seventh century.

Triora was located in the county of Ventimiglia, under whose feudal lords it remained until 1261, after which time it came under the jurisdiction of Genoa.

The history of Aci Trezza is relatively recent, even if the territory is connected to events relating to the mythical Cyclops, Polyphemus and Ulysses. According to studies, in 1639 the community of ‘Aci Sant’Antonio e Filippo’ broke away from “Aci Aquilia”, becoming a feud of the Princes Riggio of Campofiorito.

Since Aci Trezza is close to the sea, Princes Riggio created in this area, in front of the “Faraglioni” [stacks], a small commercial port.

The rule by the Princes Riggio lasted for about a century, from the second half of the 17th to the late 18th century (they built a church which was later destroyed by the earthquake of 1693 - the present church dates from the late 18th century).

The question about the origins and antiquity of Acireale is rather complex. Because it is also rather debatable we start with the more recent history - see further down this page for the rather complicated discussions about the Origins of Ancient Acireale.

Early history of Acireale

In the early Middle Ages, "Aci" (or "Iachium", "Jaci Castellum", "Jaci") was first occupied by the Arabs and then by the Normans.

Adrano is the current name for the ancient Greek town of "Adranòn", later known in Latin as "Hadranum" [1], so we can see that the territory of Adrano is of very ancient settlement.

Adrano in ancient times

In fact, archaeological excavations conducted by P. Orsi (1859-1935) and then continued over the years have brought to light various villages, consisting of huts protected by trenches and some necropolis with oval burial chambers, which clearly indicate the trend of the ancient Sikel populations to settle in lowland areas near rivers.

All the Aeolian islands are of volcanic origin. The islands were inhabited from the Neolithic period onwards, as evidenced by findings in the Castle of Lipari, the largest island of the archipelago, and also on the island of Panarea where a prehistoric village was found more than 50 years ago. The artefacts found consist of decorated pottery and some obsidian objects.

Obsidian is a glassy rock of volcanic origin which splinters into very sharp blades and was once a flourishing trade among all the countries of the Mediterranean Sea.

By 1210 Aidone was a remarkable city in the age of Frederick II of Swabia, although the town is actually very ancient - it was in 1210 that it was defined as a “terra” ["land"], a term that refers to the concept of a fairly important town, walled and with its own administrative offices, which also exercised some control over the surrounding area [1].

The original settlement at Akrai was founded in 664 BC, on the flat top of a hill to the west of Palazzolo Acreide. This site, chosen for military defensive reasons, allowed Akrai to dominate the upper reaches of the Anapo River.

Alatri is situated on the slopes of the “Ernici” mountains, near Frosinone.

Early history of Alatri

With the Roman expansion and the entrance of the settlement in 484 BC into the "Foedus Cassianum", Alatri first became an ally of Rome, and in 90 BC it was elevated to the status of a “Municipium”.

The archaeological remains of the area where Alba is located date back to the Neolithic Age, with traces of the first human presence dating from between the 6th and 3rd millennium BC. The ancient settlement, which was quite extensive, was located on the left bank of the Cherasca River, just before the confluence with the Tanaro River.

Albenga (“Albium Ingaunum”) is an ancient city, originally inhabited by the Ligurian “Ingauni”, and which later became a Roman municipality. Albium Ingaunum was founded between the 6th and 4th century BC, but the place where it stood is uncertain. Some scholars have suggested that:

"[...] the old ‘Albium Ingaunum’ was probably located on the same area occupied later by the Roman city, which coincides with the modern Old Town [...]" [2].

The story of Alberobello is truly unique and curious. The Counts of Conversano offered many advantages to the early inhabitants of the place, but without granting them civic rights, privileges or any form of ownership.

In fact, the peasants could reside in the forest but with an express prohibition on building homes using any type of lime, according to the law known as the "Pragmatic ‘De Baronibus’", that forbade build houses without authorization. To get around this prohibition the houses known as "casedde" ("small houses") were built without the use of lime, thus "stone by stone", ready to be torn down for an inspection.

The ancient civilization of the Elymi is present in historical sources, but it is rather lacking in archeological evidence. This is explained by the fact that the Elymi soon "merged" with other peoples such as Phoenicians and the Greeks who colonized Sicily, making it extremely difficult to find traces of them.

Born as a primitive 'nuragic' village, Alghero was occupied in ancient times first by the Carthaginians and then by the Romans, and developed significant economic activity.

The village was an important milestone in the itinerary of merchants in transit between the main ports of ancient trade, i.e. from the Roman "Nymphaeus" ("Porto Conte") and the thriving “Turris Libyssonis” (the current "Porto Torres").

Between the 6th and 3rd century BC imposing city walls (the so-called “megalithic walls”) were erected, which are still visible today in some parts of Altamura.

From the following century however, the city experienced a substantial decline, and it was only in the Middle Ages that Altamura regained some importance, thanks to Emperor Frederick II of Swabia (1194-1250), who re-made the city, repopulating and calling it "Altamura" because of the presence of these high megalithic walls.

Early history of Amelia

The first document, in which Amelia appears as "Ammeline", dates back to 1145, and in which the sale of certain lands is quoted:

"In the name of our Lord Jesus, in the year 1145 of his incarnation at the time of  Pope Lucius [1100-1185], on Sunday in the month of August, during the eighth indiction, I John, a resident in the town of Amelia, of my own free will and no force, sell to you Guidone Gerardo de Pinzo a piece of land that I own in the hamlet called ‘Foris Pontis', in the place called ‘between two rivers', situated in the territory of Amelia".

The first nucleus of ancient “Anagni” dates back to the “Ernici”, a population which had to give way to the expansion of the Romans around 300 BC. The land on which Anagni is located, however, was already inhabited in prehistoric times, as shown by some fossils of "Homo Erectus" (the oldest in Italy), recently discovered in the valley.

Some important traces of the Roman city are the so-called “Arcazzi”, imposing travertine arches that open onto the northern side of the city walls. The monumental “Porta Cerere” (renovated several times) was the main access to Anagni, even at the time of the Ernici.

The ancient name of Anghiari, a town in Tuscany not far from Sansepolcro and “Città di Castello”, was "Anglarium" - the name derives from the expression "Castrum Angulare" which is a reference to a “Triangular Castle”. This was the nucleus of the village, which, as with Sansepolcro, belonged to the powerful and wealthy Monastery of Camaldoli.

Note however that the scholar Gino Franceschini believes that Anghiari derives from the word for "gravel", because the city is situated on gravel accumulated by the Tiber River over the centuries.

In 186 BC there was an invasion by Transalpine Gaul towards the “Venetia” region. As a result they built an “oppidum” (a "fortified city") and in 183 the Roman Senate decided on the foundation of Aquileia.

Creation of Aquileia in the 2nd century BC

So Aquileia was founded in a strategic location to control the critical boundaries of the second century BC, the so-called "Amber Road", which connected the trans-alpine world with the sea and the karst area, that could be subject to invasions from the East.

Some studies about the territory of Arco have established that, during the Neolithic period, different populations lived in the areas of the plain of the River Sarca, founding, in the Bronze and Iron Age new settlements, although these are not well identified.

Arco itself probably has Roman origins - some scholars of the 19th century were inclined to believe that the city was the ancient "Sarraca" or "Carraca", but this has been questioned by more recent studies.

Arezzo is a very old city which has its roots in prehistory: near Arezzoremains dating back to the Mesolithic and the Neolithic periods have been found, and evidence of many important human settlements.

The city itself probably dates back to Etruscan times, as attested by the legend according to which Arezzo was founded by the inhabitants of Chiusi (= Lat. "Clusium"), although we have no record of its actual origins.

Assisi is situated on the slopes of Mount Subasio, and it is well known worldwide for being the birthplace of Saint Francis.

A brief history of Assisi

To appreciate the origins of Assisi we first need to visit prehistoric Umbria...

Atrani was formerly a Greek and then an Etruscan emporium, then from the 6th century the village became part of the Republic of Amalfi.

Its church was invested with the office of the Dukes of the Republic, who were also buried here.

Atri is a town in the Province of Teramo, strategically located on a terrace overlooking the Adriatic Sea, in a territory best known for the presence of so-called "calanchi", i.e. geological formations caused by the erosion of clayey soil.

The area of Atri has been inhabited since the Iron Age, as shown by archaeological finds. There are two accredited hypothesis about the origins of the city: the most likely says that the town was founded by the Etruscans; while the second connects Atri to the existence in the area of a colony founded by Dionysius of Syracuse (405-367 BC).

The history of Bagheria and its founders is in many ways fascinating and "mysterious", things that even today excite the imagination and curiosity of visitors.

In ancient times Bagheria did not exist as a town - rather, there was a vast area known as Bagheria, populated only with rare scattered hamlets in the countryside, and dotted with watch towers that are still largely visible today, such as the Valdina Tower, which dates back to the 16th century.

According to the studies of G. Volpe, the ancient name of Barletta was “Bardulos”, a name which is mentioned in the “Tabula Peuntigeriana” (4th century AD) and also in the “Itinerary of Antoninus” (“Itinerarium Antonini”, 6th  century AD).

Barletta was presumably originally a "Vicus" ("village"), dating back to the fourth or third century BC. The ancient city had a port function, because it was located at the mouth of the river Ofanto [1].

The town of Bassano-del-Grappa has very ancient origins, and we know it was inhabited in prehistoric times, as shown by archaeological finds and a protovillanovian necropolis (X-VIII century B.C.) discovered around St. George in Angarano.

Bassano was later conquered by the Romans, who called it Bossianus.

Early history of Bastia Umbra

In the Middle Ages Bastia Umbra was a "Castrum", an important strategic and fortified site (see extensive notes about the environment further down this page). This importance is explained by the fact that the city is situated at the confluence of the river Chiascio and near important roads that connect Perugia, Assisi, Spoleto and Foligno.

Thus already in Byzantine times Bastia played an important role, and with the advent of the Lombards:

"Bettona was a Byzantine town and the border, located in the Valle Umbra, was hinged on the fortresses of Bastiola and Bastia, which were opposed to the Lombard Assisi" [15].

Bergamo is a city of a very ancient origin, perhaps even pre-roman. According to an ancient legend, Bergamo was founded by Cidno, son of Ligure and a descendant of Noah.

In reality we know that in Bergamo there were human settlements already in prehistoric times, the Ligurian and Umbrian, who in the 6th century B.C. were conquered by the Etruscans.

Vettona, now Bettona, in Umbria, was a Municipium in Roman times, spoken of by Pliny the Elder, and also mentioned in other inscriptions [1].  However, in fact the ancient sources were rather sparing in Bettona.

Basically, even today we only have various inscriptions, and the reference of Pliny the Elder (III, 14), who mentioned the inhabitants of Vettona, calling them "Vettonenses". However, despite the lack of literary sources, the archaeological, historical and linguistic studies enable us to reconstruct the ancient aspect of Bettona.

Bevagna is situated in a fertile valley in Umbria, crossed by the rivers Topino Timia, Clitumnus and Attone, and just 200 meters above sea level. Bevagna, which the Romans called "Mevania, only enters into history with the Roman conquest, although it has a tradition much older.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the territory of Bevagna was already inhabited in prehistoric times, then, in the 7th century BC by the Umbrians - and probably by the Etruscans (since its name appears to originate from an Etruscan origin - see etymology further down).

The famous Arab geographer Al Idrisi, in the twelfth century, when writing about the Casentino, described Bibbiena as a "small but Populous town". In fact, Bibbiena is one of the oldest cities in the Casentino, with origins that seem to date back to the Etruscan family, called Vibia or Bebia (from which the name 'Vipena' and then 'B-e-blena' and B-i-blena would later derive).

Inhabited since Prehistoric times, the area of Bitonto underwent an Illyrian invasion in the Iron Age, and populations from the opposite shore of the Adriatic formed in Puglia the ethnic area of the “Japigi” (called the “Apuli” in Classic Age) with Dauni and Peucezian.

At this time “Bitontum”n as it was called, was a town of Peucetii, along with Metapontum, Hidruntum, Tarentum and Sipontum. Sharing the cultural influences of the “Magna Graecia” people, the “Bitontini” retained intact their independence until the Roman invasion.

The town of Brescia is situated at the outlet of an important Alpine Valley, the Trompia Valley. Unlike Bergamo to the west it developed in the flat country at the foot of the mountain - this location reveals the importance that the city has had since ancient times for the control of the Trompia Valley and the surrounding countryside.

The oldest nucleus of the city was on the hill named Cidneo that stretched towards the plain - in ancient times the plains were covered by swamps and marshes. It was here that first the Ligurians and then the Etruscans established themselves.

Bressanone (Brixen) was inhabited from the Neolithic era. In Roman times it was conquered by Drusus (38-9 BC), stepson of the emperor Augustus (63 BC-14 AD) in 15 BC and incorporated into the Roman province of "Rhaetia".

In 590 AD, after the fall of the Roman Empire, this land was incorporated into the Duchy of Bavaria. In 901 King Louis the Child (891-911), the last King of the Carolingians, gave the royal court "Prichsna" to the bishop Zacharias.

The position of Brunico (Bruneck) is explained by its location: it is ideally situated at the heart of important historical trade roads, and the Puster Valley was already inhabited in prehistoric times.

This can be seen in the numerous ancient remains found in Dobbiaco, Monguelfo and Brunico [1]. As regards Brunico itself, it is situated in an area of the Puster Valley which is also rich in castles.

To start, we should say that 'modern' Buscemi is a town of Arab origin - but although this is a historical truth it is also a glaring over-simplification.

In fact, the site of Buscemi has a very ancient history, which over the centuries has attracted much interest among scholars, and disputes about its origins which continue to this day...for your interest we include rather lengthy details and discussions:

At the beginning of the 20th century G. Battaglia wrote about Butera:

"There is nothing remarkable in Butera: we only see an ancient castle of Norman architecture in good condition on a rock" [1].

Today, the “anonymous” Butera of the early years of last century is one of the most important archaeological sites in Sicily.

Tracing the date of formation of Cagli

In ancient times the city of Cagli (Marche region of Italy) was once located on a hill called "Banderuola" - at that time it was known as "Ad Calem", "Cales Vicus" and "Mutatio ad Cale". Although the area had been undoubtedly settled in ancient times, the "Cales Vicus" can be traced back only to the the first or second century AD.

The small town of Cagnano Varano is situated on a hill which, according to tradition, was the seat of the Italic town of Uria, mentioned in Ancient Roman times by Pliny (23-79 AD) and Strabo (58-25 BC). A. Zaccagni Orlandini tells some stories of the city:

"[...] Cagnano is about one mile from Lake Varano. They say that its origin is ancient, but Giustiniani found no documents proving this. Certainly, under the dominion of the Norman kings it was given in fief to famous people, along with other lands of the Gargano, and it was then granted to the Cernitore family, then to the Della Marra de Barulo...

... In the early 17th century it belonged to the family of De Vargas; King Alfonso ceded his rights about the town to his mother-in-law, the Marquise de Arpaia, who ruled it as a duchy. Later it came to Marra, to Vargas Caravaglio and then to the Roman family of the Pallavicino [...]"  [1].

The prehistoric site of Caltabellotta is indicated by two caves on top of Mount Pellegrino and four tombs called the "Saracen Caves". However, despite the massive presence of the Arabs in the early history here, the true history of Caltabellotta is much more complex.

Medieval history of Caltavuturo

See further down this page for the (possible) more ancient origins of Caltavuturo.

In the Middle Ages, Caltavuturo was occupied by the Normans (1063). Count Roger (1031-1101), in 1084, assigned it to his daughter Matilda, and then to Adelasia (1074-1118), his niece. In 1177 the city passed to Ruggero di Aquila from Adelasia and her son Adam; then later the city returned to the royal demesne [11].

Founding of Camaldoli

The story of Camaldoli starts with Saint Romuald, born in 952 AD - Romuald of Ravenna arrived in the territory of Arezzo near the end of his life. Before he died he trained five monks - thereby creating the core of the Holy Hermitage of Camaldoli, called the "Campus Malduli", on land donated to St. Romuald by the Earl of Arezzo Maldolo.

He then died at Valdicastro (at that time called “Vallis de Castro”), between Fabriano and Cingoli in the Marche region of central Italy).

We should mention immediately that among historians of the 18th and 19th centuries, various interpretations about the origins of Camerino arose, which involved a lot of confusion.

Prehistoric and ancient Capolona

According to studies by C. Starnazzi, the territory of Capolona had been inhabited since Prehistoric times [10]. Archaeological studies show that:

"the territory of Arezzo hosted groups of Neanderthals who left traces of their passage in outdoor settlements on terraces (…) In addition, various occurrences of Acheulean-type artefacts were found at Pratantico, Giovi and Capolona" [11].

Caprarola is located just over 500 meters above sea level, on the eastern side of the “Cimini” Mountains, and dominated by the "palace-fortress” built in the 15th century by the noble and powerful family of the Farnese.

Although there are traces of prehistoric settlements in the form of piles in the lake of Vico, and some remains of Etruscan and Roman tombs in the place called “Barco”, the first historical documents about Caprarola date back to  1223 and concern the existence of a religious brotherhood.

History of Capua

Titus Livius (59 BC-17 AD) described Capua as one of the richest cities of Italy. At the time of Livius Capua extended across 200 hectares of land, and stood in the middle of a territory planted with cereals and vines, and full of trades and handicrafts, but first we need to step back even further, almost 3000 years ago...

Archaeological documents certify that the site was certainly inhabited from the 9th century BC, and that it was occupied without interruption until the Roman age.

Thanks to studies by V. Giustolisi the town of Carini is now identified as the ancient Hyccara, mentioned by Thucydides (460  –  395 BC). Hykkara was certainly a Sikan town in the end of the 5th century BC.

The domain of the Sikans extended to the district of Akragas (= Agrigento) to the south-east, while the north-west comprised the region of the Elimi, reaching the district of Hyccara in the northern part also to Palermo. It was destroyed by the Athenians and delivered by them to Segesta.

The origins of Carloforte only date back to the 18th century, although the region, due to its particular shape, was exploited in the ancient world by Romans and Carthaginians as a port.

Previous to the foundation of modern Carloforte, in 1541 and accompanying the Lomellini (the Lords of Pegli), some inhabitants of Genoa landed in Tabarka, an island near the coast of Tunisia, to concentrate on coral fishing.

The current town of Carloforte was then born following the immigration of the inhabitants of Tabarka, in Tunisia, after the site was attacked by pirates.

The very early history of Caronia is fascinating because of the important role it played for Sicily and is covered in some detail below the more 'recent' history, simply because little actual trace exists of the earlier settlements here.

From the 5th century BC to the 2nd century BC

After the dominance of Syracuse and Athens it was the turn of Carthage. In the 5th century BC the territory of the Nebrodes was garrisoned by mercenaries native to Campania, engaged by Himilcone (died 394 BC), who in this way intended to gain control of the north coast.

We know that Carpino, over the centuries, was in turn the domain of the Normans, the Angevin and the Aragonese.

The Normans were responsible for the construction of the Castle, which overhangs the Old Town with its imposing size. In fact between 1150 and 1160 they extended their domination over the northern side of Gargano, so they built the first tower as a sign of possession of the territory, followed by the construction of the castle and the defensive wall system to protect the village.

The original and primitive nucleus of Casale Monferrato probably developed near the Po River, around the castle of the Paleologi. The origins of Casale, as we explain below (in 'etymology'), most likely coincide with the Roman city of Vardacate, as various archaeological finds in the area demonstrate.

It was also part of the Longobards domain, and in 882 Charles the Fat (839-888) gave to the town the Bishopric of Vercelli.

Does Cascia date from Roman times - or the Middle Ages?

The first challenge for historians looking at Cascia is the challenge of identifying it as the same town as the roman town of Cuscula, a connection long accepted but now generally considered incorrect - and with fairly extensive discussions!

R. Cordella and N. Criniti pointed out that although the link to the ancient town is probably incorrect, the inhabitants of Cascia have other excellent reasons to boast about their city:

The human presence in the Casentino area is very old, and it was once inhabited by the Etruscans - remains of settlements, shrines and burial kits, are all materials which, together with place names that were found in different places here, attest to the widespread presence of Etruscan settlements.

The history of Cassano in ancient and Roman times is not clear or well documented so is covered separately further down this page.

History of Cassano allo Ionio

In the Middle Ages, the earliest mention of 'modern' Cassano Ionio is due to Paul the Deacon (720-799 AD), who spoke of a village called "Cass-i-anum", with the "i", rather than "Cass-a-num":

The modern town of Cassibile only dates from the 19th century. The history of the name and location are thought to go much further back however, and posibly started around a farmhouse of the same name...

Cassibile - modern town with ancient origins

Cassibile is the name of a very famous river in antiquity, known to the Greeks as "Kakyperis", on which, as Thucydides [460-395 BC] says [1], Demosthenes (died 413 BC) was forced to surrender at Syracuse. Cassibile is also the name of an old farm-house, mentioned by some medieval documents. In fact, Michele Amari says:

The castle of San Niccolò is located in the Valdarno, Casentino, at a height of about 400 meters on the right bank of the river Arno and torrent Solano.

Castellammare del Golfo” is the modern name for the ancient “Emporium Segestanorum” (Emporium of Segesta), and is located east of Eryx and north of Segesta.

The name used by Greek authors is "Emporion", that is a “town of maritime trade” [1]. The "emporium" of Castellammare in Sicily was one of the clearest monuments to the opulence and extensive commerce of Segesta. Several ancient authors wrote on this trading port of the Elymi - for example, it was mentioned by Strabo (64 BC-19 AD), Ptolemy (100-175 AD), and Diodorus (90-27 BC):

Prehistoric era

As regards the area that surrounds Castelsardo, we can say that the city's history begins with the Neolithic period. The most important archaeological evidences of this phase in Castelsardo are the so called "Domus de Janas", literally "houses of the fairies", which are funerary buildings excavated in the rock.

The landscape around Castelsardo is characterized by the famous “Nuraghi” (ancient stone buildings), present in large numbers, and considered to have been the fortifications and control points of the territory, organized around circular huts with a hearth in the center.

Early origins of Arintha - Castiglione

On the antiquity of Castiglione in Calabria, in the 19th century, V. Padula believed that the town was the heir to the ancient city of “Arithia” following the line of towns: Arithia -> Arintha -> Arianthe -> Castiglione.

Castiglione del Lago is located on the western shore of Lake Trasimeno, in a region that in ancient times was dominated by the Etruscans, and particularly by the "Clusium" [Chiusi]. According to recent studies: "

"the shores of Lake Trasimeno were inhabited since the Palaeolithic Age, because of a favorable micro-climate which tempered the rigors of winter and the summer heat (...) The settlement of the banks of the lake has never been interrupted over the millennia; in fact, recently near San Savino proto-historical remains of pottery fragments dating back to the 12th -10th centuries BC have been found....

... there is little information about Lake Trasimeno in Etruscan and Roman times; however we do know that several small settlements devoted to agriculture and fishing were scattered along its shores" [1].

In the Middle Ages Castroreale was just one of many "anonymous" hamlets of the plain of Milazzo. In a document dating back to 1263, under King Manfred (1232-1266), son of Frederick II of Swabia (1194-1250), its ancient name, "Criccine" appears next to the names of other hamlets in a donation to the Monastery of Santa Maria di Monialium of Messina:

“[...] "Then the lands that are within the territory of Nasari and third parts of the wood and hamlet of 'Criccine'[...]"

The Hill on which the ancient centre of Castrovillari is located was certainly inhabited in prehistoric times, then in Roman times a "castrum" was built at the peak of  the hill, of which there remain some traces in a hollow space beneath the loggias of the “Santa Maria del Castello” shrine.

The town was strengthened with walls, which, over the centuries, gave to the town a reliable defence against the Saracens and Normans, who latter conquered it only after a long siege.

Cefalà Diana is a "small" town in Sicily with a history that presents many difficulties of interpretation - only in recent years have these found a satisfying solution. The 'current' town of Cefalà Diana has quite 'modern' origins, only dating back to the late 17th century

Cefalù is situated on rocky ground with a strong slope under an overhanging rock. Its origins go back to the pre-Greek civilisation and it was a fortified city of considerable commercial and strategic importance.

Ancient history of Cefalù

Both ancient and contemporary historians agree about the antiquity of Cefalù . Moreover, beyond the recent archaeological finds there is also some important literary evidence. For example, Cefalù was mentioned for the first time as existing in 396 BC by Diodorus Siculus (90-27 BC), who called it "Kephalodion", literally "little head". In fact, T. Fazello, the great historian of Sicily, wrote:

Centuripe, called "Kentoripa" (or "Kentoripai") in Greek according to scholars, was a Hellenized city, which was founded by the Sikels.

The story of its discovery was described by G. Libertini (born 1888), one of the greatest scholars of Centuripe and younger colleague of Paolo Orsi (1859-1935), who conducted the first excavations on the site of Centuripe, which was:

"[...] systematically explored by P. Orsi in a series of excavations that took place between 1907 and 1909, and  after some time, in the years 1918 and 1932 [...]" [1]

Recents archaeological digs demonstrate that the origins of Cesena date to before Roman times (its ancient name is probably derived from the Latin word Caesenia, indicating a 'wood cut' (from caedo-caedere - to cut).

According to scholars’ studies it is here that we can locate the old "Selva Lithuania", where the Boii Gauls in 216 BC reported a resounding victory against the Romans, led by Lucius Postumius (consul 234 B.C.).

The place name "Cetica", in the oldest medieval documents, is referred to as "Curtis Cedeca" - or "Cedica", as we read for example in a diploma of Otto III [980-1002] dating from 1002:

The small town of Chianciano, whose territory in recent years has given us many remains of the Etruscan civilization, to which the town was linked through Chiusi.

Etruscan Chianciano

Historically, Chianciano was a small town under the control of Chiusi, the dominant city. As pointed out by M. Cristofani, the history of the Etruscan Chianciano, beyond the few references in ancient writers, is encapsulated in its monuments, the remains of which demonstrate the vitality of this ancient town, which has been investigated in depth in recent years.

Current suggestions about the antiquity of Chiaramonte Gulfi say that it is located at the site of the ancient town of "Akrillai" - of which more below, but first we look at the history of 'modern' (post-Roman) Chiaramonte Gulfi.

Etymology and the name Chiavari

About the etymology of Chiavari, there have been various proposals in the past which have caused some confusion. In the 1980s however there was an important study, which still enjoys general consideration, by the scholar T. Franceschi, who established:

“[…] a connection between ‘Klava’ and ‘grava’, which is probably a Celtic or Mediterranean term, which seems to mean ‘pebbles produced and conveyed from the water,’ ‘gravel’, ‘pebbles of the stream’) […].” [1].

Already known in Roman times, the little town of Chiavenna had a remarkable importance in the early Middle Ages; after the year 1000 it became an independent municipality, although it was later submitted to the Bishopric of Como, passing then, in 1335, to the Visconti and Sforza families.

Finally, it was under the Grisons until 1797. The present old town dates back to the 16th century, since the medieval town was destroyed by fire in 1486, and new city walls were built by Ludovico il Moro (1452-1508).

The two islands that make up Chioggia were a safe refuge for the Veneto population when they were subjected to barbarian invasions in the 5th century.

However the Chioggia that we see today has it's roots in the eleventh and twelfth centuries AD, by which time it had already assumed the role of an important port city, developed around the salt trade salt, fishing and other economic activities related to its the sea.

The ancient city of Chiusi was formerly one of the twelve cities of Etruria and the site of one of the most powerful Etruscan tribes, governed by Porsenna in the 6th century BC - Porsenna was an Etruscan king who greatly increased the power of the city, as recorded by the Roman historian Livy (59 BC-17 AD).

Cingoli is a small and pleasant town in the Marches, but over the centuries it has given scholars exceptional problems regarding both its antiquity and etymology.

We have reliable information about Cinisi from Arab times, and then later from the mid-14th century onwards, but studies have also allowed scholars to identify an area of ancient settlement, which had a great military and economic importance in Roman times. The Roman period at Cinisi has given scholars much food for thought.

Our earliest knowledge of the history of Citta Della Pieve is from some 12th century documents when, in a papal Bull of 1181, Pope Lucius III (1100 ca.-1185) granted some privileges to Guglielmo. With these the Bishop of Lucca. Lucius III appointed:

"[...] the fortress and the Court of ‘San Gervasio’, with all its appurtenances" [1].

History and etymology of Citta di Castello

Città di Castello in Roman times was called "Tifernum Tiberinum."

The historical and linguistic data refer to a presumed Umbrian-Sabine origin of the city; in fact, the term "Tifernus (= Bifernus) seems to derive from an original name" Tifaro ", which first appears like "a Italic Umbrian-Sabine name  and then a Latin name "(See, “Studi Etruschi”, Olschki, 1975, p. 156).

The activities of Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) when he was proconsul in Transpadane were very intense, and we know that Cividale, the ancient “Forum Iulii”, was founded by the great Roman leader, along with other cities such as Concordia in the same area of Friuli.

It was the clay of the area around Civita Castellana, and the art of pottery, that made the economic fortune of the city from earliest times (10th century BC).

Indeed, archaeological excavations of the necropolis here have unearthed many materials, documenting a strong presence of art pottery such as vases, the finest geometric vessels  and proto-Corinthian and Attic vases. In pre-Roman times, “Civita Castellana” was the capital of the “Falisci”, skilled craftsmen who were specialized in producing art pottery.

The ancient name of Civitavecchia was “Centumcellae”, a port with many warehouses the foundation of which dates back to 107 AD. at the behest of Trajan (53-117 AD).

Colle di Val d'Elsa is an old city, probably dating from the Early Middle Ages, although the town was also known in the past under different names from the current one - namely 'Piticciano' and 'Piticciano Castle'.

The early history and origins of the town are slightly unclear but the research tells a fascinating story.

The first challenge for historians is to decide on the founding and location of ancient Comiso, a discussion that has become rather heated over the centuries...

Identifying Comiso with ancient Casmene

Following their successful penetration into Sicily, a few years later Syracuse founded some of its colonies, including Acre (Greek "Akrai") and Casmene [the Greek "Kasméne" or "Kasmenai" (644-43 BC) [1], a military colony founded to control the Siciles people who lived between the rivers Anapo and Tellaro:

The town of Conegliano was born around the 12th century, when a group of noble families established a settlement on a hill around a pre-existing fortress.

This castle became the centre of the local political, military and religious power, with the Palace of the Podestà and the Church of St. Leonardo.

Ancient origins of Corleone

Many assumptions have been proposed to explain the origins of Corleone, especially in earlier centuries. One of the most seductive was that Corleone was the direct descendant of the ancient city of “Schera”, even mentioned even by Homer in the 9th century BC:

“So god-like Nausithous | had taken them away and led them off to settle | in 'Scheria', far from any men who have to work | to earn their daily bread. He'd had them build a wall | around the city, put up homes, raise temples | to the gods, and portion out the land for farming” [1].

Although doubted for many centuries, archaeological excavations (and linguistic experts) have now shown definitively that Cortona is of Etruscan origin.

Cortona is believed to have been a rich and powerful Etruscan town, as demonstrated by the cyclopean walls surrounding the city that are still visible in some parts today, The walls are made of huge slabs of superimposed stone. Beside them are the tombs, a magnificent example of which is the so-called 'Cave of Pythagoras' (570 ca.-495 BC) - some of the finds from this cave are now housed in the renovated Etruscan Museum of Cortona.

Founded in the Island of “Fulcheria” and emerging from the marshes of the ancient Lake Gerundo, Crema became an important city and a free municipality only in the 11th century, when Matilda of Canossa ceded it to the Bishop of Cremona.

However the population of the area can be traced back to the fourth millennium BC, as evidenced by the discovery of artefacts (that can be seen in the Civic Museum of Crema) such as fragments of stone, arrowheads and stone axes.

Cremona was born as a simple village inhabited by the Gauls, who worked as ferrymen on the Po River. Because of its geographical position as a major transit point Cremona drew the attention of the Romans, who turned the small village into an important regional centre.

It was founded around 219 B.C., and was inhabited by nearly 6000 Romans who took advantage of the fertility of the soil and at the same time used the location to control the Celtic populations (the Boi and Cenomani Gauls) that were penetrating inside the Empire.

History of Kroton: Crotone

According to a well-established tradition [Herodotus (484-425 BC), “Historiae”, VIII, 47] Kroton [=Greek Κρότων] was founded by settlers from Achaia led by Myskellos from Rhypai. "Myskellos" seemed to merge with the names of many legendary founders of cities in the Ancient World, and to many scholars he seemed to be a typical figure of Greek mythology.

However, the "strangeness" of the oecist’s name aroused great interest and many discussions between scholars, and O. Masson pointed out that “Myskellos” was a name largely spread over a wide geographical area, stretching from Sicily to Asia Minor.

Early history of Empoli

The town of Empoli was originally known as Emporium (see etymology further down).

The foundation of the town was due to the Counts Guidi, who for almost a century (1150 ca.-1230 ca.) were one of the major Tuscan noble Families. They wielded many powers such as the justice, control of the fortifications and the imposition of military service to the entire population. Their nickname was "Guerra-Werra" (meaning 'talking').

The name Erice appears for the first time when it is mentioned by Herodotus (284-425 BC), who talks about it in broad terms, not calling it a "polis" (town) but simply as a "Chora" or "Ghe" (trans: 'Earth').

On the contrary, Erice is referred to as a "polis" by Thucydides (460-395 BC). At the time of the Greek historian, the "polis" of Erice seems already to be a city of great importance, not only as a sacred Centre, but because it was surrounded by powerful walls, minted its own coins and was a faithful ally of Segesta (Erice kept the "treasure" of Segesta in its Temple).

The town of Fabriano is located on the banks of the Giano River, a tributary of Esino. The ancient name of Fabriano was “Faberius” - we note that the origins date back to the 12th century AD, and thus to the Middle Ages.

This geographical position, so rich in water, literally made the fortune of the city, encouraging the development of the paper industry (...) the first core of which dates back to the fifth century AD, with the arrival of people from the cities of "Attidium" (now "Attiggio") and "Tuficum" (now "Tufico Village"), abandoned due to the barbarian invasions.

The town of Faventia (now Faenza) first arose in Roman times, when it was built on the Via Aemilia (187 BC), although archaeological excavations have shown that the site was inhabited in prehistoric times.

Roman Faenza

Faenza was built by the Romans according to the classic 'centuriation', i.e. by dividing the countryside into square blocks about 700 metres along each side, with the seat of civilian life in the city (the Town Hall, Market and craft shops) at the centre of the centuriation.

During the Roman Empire, some significant measures for agricultural development took place in Faenza and until the Second Century AD, the city enjoyed a prosperous life, made up of activities related to agriculture and industrial ceramics.

The ancient town of "Fanum", now Fano, is located at the mouth of Metauro River Valley.

Roman Fano: the Temple of Fortune

The Roman sources about Fano are numerous, but the first to talk of the town in an absolute sense was Julius Caesar [100-44 BC] (“Bellum Civile”,  1, 12, 4), during the passage of the Rubicon River and his military operations in Central Italy:

Ancient origins of Favignana

It is often believed that Sicily had Greek origins", but in fact, Sicily was conquered by the Phoenicians "before" the Greeks. Thucydides (460-397 BC) spoke about this historical reality and observed that:

"[...] the Phoenicians also inhabited the coasts of Sicily, having occupied the headlands and the nearby islets, because of trade with the Sicules. However, when the Greeks arrived there in large numbers by sea, leaving Sicily they lived in Motya, Soloenta and Panormos [...]".

One of these "islets" inhabited by the Phoenicians was Favignana.

The settlement of Feltre arose to the west of the Piave River in the Belluna Valley. It has been inhabited since ancient times and possibly has Etruscan origins, but according to the the Roman Pliny the Elder (23 - 79 AD) it was always a fortified city - an Oppidum founded by the Rhetic people that subsequently became a Roman Municipium.

It was of great importance for communications, because it was in contact, through the Via Claudia Augusta, with the Brenner region. There are few routes that cross the mountains here and those that do often gained strategic importance.

Ferentino is located north of the province of Frosinone at about 400 meters above sea level.

Around 493 BC the league of the Ernici,  of which was part “Ferentino”, came under Roman influence against  the Volsci, who was repeatedly attacked, and then finally defeated. “Ferentino” became part of the Roman State with the population obtaining citizenship.

Fermo, harmoniously arranged on the sides of “Sabùlo” Hill, Marche, was a place of settlement dating back to the Iron Age. The transition of Picenum (the historic region containing fermo) to the Iron Age is marked by new funeral rites of cremation, of a proto-Villanovan type, and characterized by the presence of:

“[…] urns shaped like a cylinder… We find a continuation of this type, very clearly proto-Villanovan, in the cremation tombs of  Fermo, which now is ascribed to the eighth century BC […]” [1].

Prehistoric and Ancient Filicudi

With regard to the history of the island of Filicudi, and despite the fact that Edrisi had observed that Filicudi in his time was uninhabited (11th century AD), contemporary studies have shown that in Filicude there are traces of life from the Neolithic era:

"there were found a few fragments of Neolithic pottery of ‘Diana style’ (3000 BC), especially in the village of ‘Capo Graziano’ and in connection with a village of the Bronze Age that existed on the hill above. One Corinthian amphora of the fifth century BC and some other fragments were found near ‘Campo Graziano’, which could be the evidence of a relic of this age" [1].

The current town of Foligno, or the ancient city of "Fulginium", is situated in a fertile valley at the foot of the Apennines, near the confluence of the Topino and the Menotre (a tributary of the Topino River).

The ancient city was remembered by many Roman writers such as Cato [234-149 BC], Cicero [106-43 BC], Caesar [100-44 BC] and Pliny the Elder [23-79 AD], and developed significantly after the Roman conquest.

The first settlements in the territory of Gaeta date back to the 8th century BC. then in 345 BC the city was conquered by the Romans, who transformed it into a resort.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, Gaeta suffered much looting by barbarians and Saracens. To defend the city the castle was built. In the 8th century AD the town freed itself from the imperial authorities and a century later it gave rise to the Duchy of Gaeta.

Ancient history and origins

In ancient times Gallipoli was called "Anxa", then later "Callipolis". Historically we can say that Gallipoli was conquered by the Romans in 265 BC, and that if was on the route called the "Via Traiana", a trade route to the Balkans that the Romans developed with port activities, before transforming it into a military centre, and subsequently into a “Municipium”.

The area of Gela coincides with some much more ancient settlements that date back to prehistoric times, and more specifically to the Copper Age (between the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC).

Built on sandstone, Gerace was an area of ancient people, as evidenced by the discovery of several prehistoric burial sites, from Neolithic times.

The current city was founded during the Middle Ages by some refugees who deserted Locri because of the raids by the Saracens between the end of the 7th and the beginning of the 8th centuries AD, choosing the site for its natural characteristics related to good defence capabilities.

The town of Glorenza is a real city-fortress, with a rectangular plan and surrounded by magnificent walls which reach to about seven feet tall and nearly two thick.

Grado is a small island in the Adriatic Sea, about four leagues to the south of Aquileia. The story of the emergence of Grado was told to us by Paul the Deacon (720-799 AD), who, after saying that “non longe ab Aquileia Gradus Insula est” (“The island of Grado is located not far from Aquileia”), continues:

“[...] Bishop Paul, fearing the wrath of the Longobards, escaped from Aquileia to the island of Grado, carrying the treasure of his church” [1].

Grado, therefore, originated with the arrival of some inhabitants of Aquileia, terrified by the invasions of barbarians and who sought refuge in the Venetian lagoons - so the birth of Grado is similar to that of Venice.

It is worth noting first that there are two towns to discuss: the ancient roman town of Grumentum, abandoned during the Gothic wars of the fifth century AD and also because of the Lombard conquest and the Arab invasions of the ninth century, and the town of Saponara where the residents of Grumentum took refuge, later renamed as “Saponara di Grumento” and finally “Grumento Nova.”

The history of studies about the ancient "Grumentum" (Grumento Nova) began in the 17th century, and gave rise to an intense debate among scholars from the 19th century onwards. D. Romanelli [1] laid the basis for two important problems about "Grumentum": the problem of the city’s ancient name (see etymology further down) and that of the site where it was located.

In the Middle Ages Gualdo Cattaneo was called "Gualdum Captaneorum". Gualdo Cattaneo was certainly an ancient castle, but the documentation does not go back beyond the 12th century, although a Roman inscription was found in this area. In fact, Carlo Pietrangeli said:

"We have only one datum about Gualdo in Roman times, that is the discovery of a Roman inscription of a citizen from Mevania, but ascribed to the Lemonia tribe, found in 1720 near the church of SS. Anthony and Anthoninus" [7]. He was called "Edusius", and he said he was "natus Mevaniae", but died in the territory of Todi" [8]

Gualdo Tadino is a small town in Umbria, located at the western foot of the Apennines. Historical information on the ancient city of the Umbrians is absent, and with regard to "Tadinum" of Roman times it was probably just a "vicus" [staging post] of little importance, so much so that it was mentioned by only a few ancient authors.

Roman era in Giualdo Tadino

It was rightly pointed out by S. Borgia:

The discovery in 1444 of the so-called "" ["bronze plates"], which were expertly illustrated by Giacomo Devoto, was essential for the understanding of ancient Gubbio, which the Romans called "Iguvium". The "Tabulae" offered important data from a historical, religious and linguistic point of view.

Regarding both Noto and Eloro (Greek ̀̀Έλωρος, Latin Helorus), which today together form the Archeological Park of Noto, historical studies related to P. Orsi's (1859-1935) work were fundamental. About Noto he wrote:

The area around Ischitella has been inhabited from the Prehistoric times and the Neolithic era, as shown by excavations that have unearthed many relics, such as ceramics and other stone implements that were once in daily use.

Also, on Mount Civita near Ischitella, there: "came to light two Roman necropolis" [1].

The history of Ispica (and of its name) is a fascinating aspect of this Sicilian town, situated on a hill south-east of the island, about 200 meters above sea level and six kilometers from the sea.

Much of the information that tradition handed down to us about Ispica has been subject to important revision in recent years, which has changed the face of the ancient “Ispica” which now has a quite different look.

The place now known as Ivrea was originally colonized by the “Salassi”, a people who lived in the present “Canavese” and “Valle d'Aosta”, whose main activities were the mining of iron, copper, gold and silver.

Since the Salassi occupied a strategic post on the way towards Gaul, the Romans had a victorious war against them and, in 100 BC, they founded “Eporedia”, which then  became a “municipium”.

Camarina [Greek Kamarina] has been the subject of renewed studies in recent years, after extensive researches dating back to the early 19th century by P. Orsi and G. Schubring, who had information of new discoveries in the necropolis of Kamarina of terracotta sarcophagus and triangular pediments (1).

The western Lake Garda has been inhabited since prehistoric times, a fact proven by a bilingual inscription found near Tremosine that testifies that both the Ligurians and then the Etruscans lived here

Next the Lake was conquered by the Cenomani Gauls, and later again by the Romans. The first Latin group of which we know something is the so-called "Benacenses", that probably took the name from the Garda Lake, at that time known as Benacus.

Ancient authors tell us that Lampedusa was inhabited at various times by Greek, Roman, Phoenician and Arab colonies. The presence of amphorae, oil lamps, burial crypts, caves, small dwellings, cisterns, wells, remains of buildings with mosaics and coins of various origins also show the antiquity of the site:

"We have found traces of a Neolithic settlement with embossed ceramic similar to the “Stentinello style” [from the name of a village near Siracusa].” [1] Also, near the port some Roman catacombs were found.

The small island called “Lampione”, that the Sicilian fishermen called “Scoglio degli scolari” [“Rock of the pupils”] is located southwest of Lampedusa, and is in fact little more than a large rock, however there is slightly more to the geography and history of Lampione than at first meets the eye...

The site of Lesina was inhabited from prehistoric times and a major study about this time is by N.L .Savino who writes of:

"[...] numerous finds of stone tools such as scrapers and blades, which belong to the Early Neolithic (Stone Age) and prehistoric men exercised agriculture, farming, fishing and hunting here. Also noteworthy are artefacts of the Copper Age, while the Bronze Age in Lesina is represented by numerous vascular findings mainly from the island of San Clemente, located in the Lake. Cusps in bronze (tips of spears or arrows) belonging to the Bronze Age (11th century BC) were found in different areas of the town [...]" [1].

Apart from some important examples from Prehistoric times, we do not have important sources that tell us much about the history of Aegadian Islans or Levanzo.

With regard to Levanzo itself, we have very few traces of Roman times, except for a building to salt the fish, even if today Archaeology (including underwater Archaeology) is bringing to light increasingly numerous and important evidence.

Licata, in ancient times called "Phintia", is a small town in Sicily with many historical challenges for historians, basically relating to antiquity.

Where was ancient Licata?

The first problem concerns the original location of Licata, which some critics in past centuries identified with Gela (albeit with a few exceptions, the criticism is directed toward identifying the ancient site of Gela with Terranova).

G.D. Gussone visited Linosa in 1828 and handed us down a detailed description which gives a good feeling for Linosa:

"[...] In 1828 (...) arriving from Sicily at these islands, first I discovered Linosa (...) It was known by the ancients under the name 'Aethusa' and 'Algusa'. Its origin is volcanic, and the four main craters constitute the bulk of it. We found no memory among the ancients about its eruptions, and there is currently no trace of heat, nor smoke-holes. The highest area is close to the north-east side and it appears in the form of a mountain, elevated about 1100 feet over the sea...

The main historical sources about man's presence in the Aeolian Islands and in Lipari in ancient times are the "Bibliotéké Historiké" (“Historical Library”) of Diodorus Siculus (90-27 BC).

Ancient Lipari

Sicilus said that the island was settled by early immigrants from Italy, called “Ausoni” and led by King Liparo. These people were later joined by the people led by the Greek Aeolus, identified with the legendary King of the Winds, that Ulysses, according to the Homeric tradition, encountered during his extensive travels.

Lisciano Niccone is located in Umbria on the slopes of Mount Castiglione, to the right of the valley of the river Niccone in a strategic position to control the roads among the valley of the Tiber, Lake Trasimeno and the Val di Chiana.

As a result of this location the whole valley played a key role during the Byzantine rule, because it was also one of the largest trade routes connecting Ravenna, Rome, Florence, Perugia and the Tiber Valley. The presence of strong castles, both in Lisciano Niccone and in nearby villages, attests that this formed part of a very important territorial defensive line.

Ancient history

In the 5th century AD, Byzantine groups settled in the “Valle d'Itria”. Later, with the domination of the Lombards (6th-7th century AD), these first settlements of farmers were reinforced.

The vicissitudes of war and destruction of villages along the coast then forced the population to move to the “Murgia Plateau”. The new populations revitalized the oldest settlements creating new ones, from which, in the following centuries, the first hamlets such as Locorotondo were to develop (Locorotondo itself was so named because of its circular shape).

Regarding the earliest documents referring to Loreto, we have a 'secure' (ie certain) document from the 12th century, but some scholars suggest other sources from the early eleventh century (from 1018).

On top of Mount Prodo there was a church dedicated to Saint Mary, and in a document of 1193 the church and its assets were donated by Jordan, Bishop of Umana, to the Monastery of Fonte Avellana:

The ancient history of Lucca in past centuries was shrouded in myth - according to Alessandro Streghi, who wrote a history of Lucca in ottava rima (a form of rhyming poetry), its origins date back to some exiled Trojans.

Ancient history of Lucca

At the beginning Lucca was called Urilia and was founded by Artomone [1]. The history of urban settlement of Lucca is very uncertain, but within the territory of Lucca there is sufficient evidence of human habitation here since the Paleolithic era.

The current site of Lucca was presumably founded by the Etruscans.

Lugnano in Teverina, in the Province of Terni, is situated at a height of 400 meters above sea level, in the Amerini Mountains in southern Umbria, on the border with Latium. We need to specify the province when talking of Lugnano to avoid the locality becoming confused with other towns that bear the same name.

The settlement at Magione is situated on Lake Trasimeno, a place of ancient Etruscan settlements - for example some years ago, at the Colle Arsiccio, important archeological remains were found from Etruscan times:

“In 1934, at Colle Arsiccio near Lake Trasimene, a deposit of votives was found, with bronzes and terracottas dating from the 6th century BC to the Constantine Age. The terracottas can be divided into two groups: the 'naked' ones (...) of the Hellenistic age (swaddling babies, crouching children, kourothropoi) and glazed ones...

Ancient origins of Manfredonia

Strabo attributed the foundation of Siponto (the ancient town now called Manfredonia) to Diomedes, the hero of the Trojan war. There is also evidence of dwellings from the Neolithic age found nearby.

In ancient times Siponto was an important centre for the so-called “Dáunia” people (the people of the “Dauni”, of Illyrian origin). Siponto was then conquered by Pyrrhus [319-272 BC] in 330 BC, and subjugated by the Romans, who founded a colony here in 194 BC.

The origins of Mantua (Mantova) date back to 1000 BC when it was founded by the Etruscans. It was later occupied by the Gauls and Romans and it is here in Pietole Mantovano that Virgil, one of the greatest Latin poets, was born.

The Greek age in Marsala

The thriving and prosperous city, although protected by powerful walls, was subject to attacks by Syracuse, then led by the tyrant Dionysius the Elder (432-367 BC). The strength of the fortifications of Mothia constituted a serious obstacle to Dionysius, who managed to occupy the settlement only after a long and exhausting siege in 397 BC.

Mascali is a small town situated on the slopes of Etna, between Acireale and Taormina, with a long and interesting history.

Mascali in antiquity - Kallipolis

With regard to antiquity, Cluverius identified Mascali as being the ancient settlement of Kallipolis, a Chalcidian colony of Naxos under the control of the tyrant Hippocrates og Gela (died 491 BC). It is safe enough to accept that Mascali was indeed Kallipolis, as Roman writer Pliny tells us that "the island of Naxos was also called Kallipolis" (meaning “beautiful city”) [1].

The same hypothesis was also formulated later by Vito Amico:

We know for certain that the town of Massa Marittima stood here by the 10th century, and archaeological excavations have shown that the area surrounding the city is of ancient settlement.

The excavations at Mattinata have given us at least a partial knowledge of the ancient complex.

Among other things we know that the city's origins date back to the 5th-6th century BC, with the first presence being the population of the "Me-tinates" (according to Roman writer Pliny the Elder) or "Ma-tinates", Dauni tribes of the Eurasian civilization who arrived from Illyria between the 8th and 7th centuries BC [1].

The Matinates settled in the plain of Mattinata and on the rocky spur of Monte Matino (Monte Saraceno, where there is a necropolis).

We know from Diodorus (90-21 BC) that the place now known as Mazara del Vallo was an "emporium" near Selinunte:

"[…] Diodorus speaks about an ‘emporium’ close to ('parà') the Mazaro River that was taken by Hannibal  (247-182 BC) in 209 BC during the march from Lilibeo towards Selinunte (...) a harbour area (‘emporion’), which was the nucleus of what would later become the town of Mazara [1].

Early origins

Regarding the foundation of the medieval city, there are some outstanding questions that are not historically based, like the suggestion that Melfi was founded in 1018 by Catapan Basilius Bojoannes (Catapan of Italy from 1017 to 1027), a hypothesis that G. Fortunato considers to be a “legend”:

"It is a legend that Catapan Basilius Boioannes had founded Melfi in 1018, the city was already seat to the merchants of Amalfi, and as Venosa and Lavello for Jewish bankers. He only encircled the city with walls […]” [7].

This is also confirmed by recent studies that prove that Catapan Basilius Boioannes in the 11th century only founded some "kastra [fortresses] of Melfi” [8].

Even with the advent of the Lombards Melfi was fortified because of its strategic location on the edge in the domain of the Byzantines. In the ninth century it came into the hands of the Byzantines, becoming, however, a reason for a clash with the Lombards.

Normans in Melfi

During the 11th century Melfi was for many years the capital of the Normans, and it was here that five ecumenical councils were organized between 1059 and 1101, including that in which the First Crusade (1089) was decided.

The Normans also decided to build a new castle, new walls and the cathedral at this time..

Early history of Menfi

The hamlet of ‘Burgimilluso’ was built by Frederick II as a hunting lodge for himself and his Court, where previously the Arabs had built a powerful fortress called Burgimillius. Later the castle was involved in the history of the wars between Aragon and Anjou, and in all the struggles involved in the 14th and 15th century with the nearby town of Sciacca.

Merano is an ancient city dating from Roman times, when it was known as "Statio Maiensis' (“station”, “borderland Maia”).

They tell us that, in the Later Middle Ages, the city was also known as:

"Castrum Maiense", located in "Maia, near Meran" [1].

When the Chalcidian from the island of Euboea founded a colony at Zancle on the Sicilian coast of today's Messina Strait around 730 BC the area was already inhabited by indigenous peoples, from whomthe name of Zancle probably comes, which means 'sickle', named for the shape of the promontory on which their village stood.

In the first half of the 5th century, the city fell into the hands of the tyrant of Reggio, Anassilaos (500 c.-476 B.C.). That led to a number of Dorian settlers from Messenia settling in the city, who came to prevail over the Chalcidian people - it is to the 'Messeni', therefore, that we owe the new name of the city, Messana - today Messina.

From the mid-8th century BC the arrival of Greek pottery at the location of Metaponto gives us evidence of wide-ranging trade.

It was from the beginning of the 7th century, however, that the presence of permanent external groups, such as Greek merchants and craftsmen, created the basis for the foundation, at the beginning of the last quarter of the 7th century BC, of the Achaean colony of which  ancient sources spoke.

Milazzo, in the Province of  Messina, has excited scholars’ curiosity ever since the 18th century. The history of Milazzo is deeply rooted in the ancient “Mylài”, and excavations have allowed experts to study the ancient settlement.

The history of archeology in Milazzo begins with the discovery of some large necropolis: one dating back to the Bronze Age (14th century BC) and another in “Piazza Roma” ( of the 10th and 7th century BC). The oldest tombs document the rite of incineration, when the ashes were mostly collected in jars. From the 6th century AD  the sarcophagus were used instead, built with rows of stacked mud bricks.

Earliest traces of Mineo

When Paolo Orsi (1859-1935) in 1899 enthusiastically announced his discovery of the "remains of a wall" sited in Mineo, he did not know that two of his simple comments would create one of the most intricate “stories” of the history of all of ancient Sicily.

After mentioning his discovery he simply pointed out that Mineo was the ancient "Menai", [Latin “Menae”] and next to it rose “Palika”, a city that archaeologists have to investigate further. His story deserves repeating at length:

In the 12th century Mirandola belonged to the powerful family of the Countess Matilda of Canossa (1046-1115) and it was later a secular domain of the Pico Family, and very famous in Italy for being the native town of Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494), an eminent humanist with an exceptional memory and culture.

The area around Modica is an ancient prehistoric site and the first inhabitants were the Iberians, who lived in nearby caves, where the remains of furniture and objects in daily use have been found - the Museum of Modica offers ample evidence of this period.

Later, the territory was occupied by the Sicanians, and Modica in Norman times became an almost impregnable fortress. At this time it was ruled, under King Roger II (1095-1154), by Gualtieri (o) di Mohac, to whom the king granted the feud. The Norman conquest laid the basis for the feudal regime and established the spread of castles to protect the roads and the large landed estates.

According to known documents, Mondovi was founded in 1198, after the destruction of the city of “Bredolo”. The survivors from Bredolo joined in a new free and independent community - the independence of the town, however, was brief, as the bishop of Asti, allied with the Marquis of Ceva, managed to capture it in 1200, and later, in 1231, to destroy it.

Mondovi rose again in 1232 and, forming an alliance with Milan, Savigliano and Cuneo, resisted the new attack by Asti. In 1260 it was occupied by Charles I of Anjou (1226-1285), who largely extended his domain in the Piedmont.

Some sources claim that the city of Monreale was born on the site where there was an ancient Muslim village called “Bulchar”.

Later, since the mountainous area was the favorite game reserve of the Norman kings, it was because of this "royal" association that the site was called in Latin "Mons Regalis", or "Mountain of the King" ("Royal Mountain") - hence Monreale.

Montagnana is built on the site of an ancient prehistoric settlement dating from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Later, the Romans made it a "castrum" fortified to defend the bridge over the Adige River, which was a major meeting point of the famous 'Via Emilia Altinate' that linked Modena and Altino.

The Latin name for Montignana - 'Motta Aeniana' - comes from the fact that the settlements were on some "motte" (little hills), while the term 'Aeniana' refers to the ancient Roman road called 'Annia', another name for the Via Emilia Altinate.

Before reading the history of Montalbano Elicona you might find it useful to study the etymology of the town (further down this page), because, as you shall see, if a historian starts with the wrong etymologies then misleading historical conclusions can be drawn...

Monte Sant'Angelo developed from the fifth century onwards in relation to the cult of the Archangel Michael, who, according to tradition, appeared in a local cave. The small town is located on a spur of the Gargano region, with its characteristic medieval district called "Junno" considered to be the oldest part of the town.

The town of Montefalco, from its hill, overlooks the plain which stretches from Spoleto to Perugia. Montefalco was inhabited in ancient times by Umbrian people and probably also had Etruscan influences.

Later it was subjected by the Romans, who built many villas here. We find evidence of this in the place-names such as Camiano, Rignano, Cortignano and Vecciano, which, in fact, derive from the names of noble families (the presence of the suffix "-anus" implies the idea of ownership). In Roman times the territory was administered by "Municipium of “Mevania” (Bevagna).

The origin of Montepulciano dates back to a remote era; according to tradition it was founded by the Etruscan King Porsenna in the 6th century BC. Others have identified that on this mountain there once stood a place called "Arretium Fidens" and yet others identify the site with "Novum Clusium", spoken of by Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD).

Many Etruscan and Roman finds have been made in this district confirming its great antiquity.

The origins of Monza are very old, and recall a time when the Celtic invaders sent away the Etruscans from Northern Italy. Apart from a few finds of the Bronze Age, we have no local archaeological evidences, except for the following period when local people came into contact with the Roman Civilization.

There are over twenty tombstones from Roman times, which indicate the time when Monza was a "Vicus" ("Village") of the tribe of "Modiciates"; among these, of particular importance are the inscriptions on the Altar dedicated to Hercules (mentioned in the inscriptions as "Hercules Modicianus") and ascribed to some young aristocrats taking part of a "Collegium" funeral-religious rite.

In the Middle Ages Motta Sant'Anastasia belonged to the Diocese of Catania; in fact, as we know:

"from Catania to Aci the territory of the Bishopric spread towards Paterno Adernò, San'Anastasia and Centorbi" [1].

Goods belonging to the bishopric:

"are Iato with all its appurtenances, Paterno, with all its appurtenances, Adernò and S. Anastasia with all its appurtenances" [2].

The earliest history of Naples is surrounded by a great deal of uncertainty, due to the lack of both a literary tradition and a clear evidence of archaeological finds.

Two names are associated with the Naples of antiquity: one is Paleòpolis (meaning the "old town" and perhaps it can be identified with Partenope, which was born near the "Bay of Cuma", the Gulf of Naples was then known) and the other is Neapolis ( or "New City"). This demonstrates the existence of two separate towns.

Some scholars believe that both these towns were of Greek origin, while others maintain that the oldest existed in the pre-Greek age.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) was a great 16th century traveler, and in the course of his travels he visited Narni. As you see he also raised questions that have long intrigued historians:

“We slept at Narni, ten miles, Narnia in Latin, a small town belonging to the Holy See, built on the summit of a rock, at the foot of which runs the river Negra, Nar in Latin. One part of the town looks over a very beautiful plain, where this river is seen making an infinite variety of complicated twisting and turnings. In the public square there is a very fine fountain.

We start exploring the history of Naso with a couple of historical commentaries:

From 1545: “[…] 'Neso' now known as Naso [Nose], so called from ‘Nesia’, a region near Mount Etna, is located four miles from the sea (...) At close range eastward there is a shrine called ‘Santa Maria Nasida’ […]” [1].

Two centuries later, in 1723, we read: “[…] 'Neso' now called ‘Naso’ [Nose], so called from ‘Nesia’, is an area four miles from the promontory that we call 'Capo d'Orlando' (...) At close range to the east there is a shrine called ‘Santa Maria di Nasida’ […]” [2]

Before looking at the history of 'modern' Nocera Terinese we first need to investigate the ancient city of Temesa, thought to have been located here...

Ancient city of Temesa

Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), describing the Gulf of Policastro, referred to some places such as "The Parthenius port of the Phoceans, and the port of Vibona, the location of Clampetia, and Tempsa which the Greeks also called Temesa".

Ancient origins of Nocera Umbra

The first evidence about Nocera Umbra dates back to the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, but it is only since the Iron Age that the territory was inhabited with a certain continuity. In fact, P. Fontaine wrote:

"the name 'Nucera' does not allow us to determine the exact location of this city, and even if some of the Iron Age tombs were discovered on a hill near the promontory, the latter did not reveal any trace of an ancient settlement" [8].

Norcia, called "Nursia" in ancient times, has been the subject of very detailed studies that in recent years have discovered a lot of  Roman inscriptions. It was originally a city of the Umbrians and the Sabines [Italic tribes], but it was also dominated by the Etruscans. According to most reliable studies, Norcia formerly belonged to the so-called "Ager Nursinus" [the territory of Nursia].

Brief history of Noto

In Roman times, Netum enjoyed the rights of a Federate city, and the name of “Val di Noto” is of Arab origin. It was in fact one of the three major administrative divisions in which the Arabs divided Sicily.

It was then occupied by the Normans under Count Roger (1031-1101) and in the early 14th century, it passed to Charles of Anjou (1226-1285).

The small town of Oliveri is in the Province of Messina, in north-east Sicily and an understanding of the historical background of the town makes a visit more interesting.

Orvieto is a very ancient city, in an area that has been inhabited since the Iron Age, then dominated by the Etruscans with the name “Velzna”.

The antiquity of the city is well attested by its name of medieval origin, "Urbs Vetus," or "Old Town", which is referring to the old “Velzna”, a town that was was located in an virtually inaccessible area and equipped with powerful fortifications. Ancient "Velzna" was a rich city, due to the fact that it controlled the river communications between Etruria and Rome.

Ancient times at Paceco

Paceco is a farming town, inhabited since the Paleolithic and Neolithic era, with a landscape that bears witness to the persistent presence of an ancient civilization and a Mediterranean vegetation in picturesque scenery.

The antiquity of the site of Paceco is proven by excavations, the remains of which refer to the presence of settlements dating back to the Iron Age, with finely carved pottery of the so-called 'Elim' type.

Where once the Greek "Poseidonia", the "Paistom" of the Lucanians and "Paestum" of the Romans was founded, we find today "Capaccio," a small town in Campania.

The archaeological site of Paestum-Capaccio is one of the most popular among antique lovers. For this reason, we details some historical information that will help tourists make the most of their "time travel" in the ancient and glorious site of "Poseidonia".

Below the historical guide we also elaborate on the fascinating if rather complicated etymology of Paestum.

See also history of Akrai for the ancient town that stood on the same location - Palazzolo Acreide was the town that stood here after the dissolution of the former Akrai, due to the destruction by the Arabs.

Within the territory of the ancient "Latium" (etymologically "vast plain"), Palestrina is in the area between the Tiber River to the north, the Lepini Mountains to the south, the sea to the west and the pre-Apennines mountains to the east.

As a result the ancient town of Praeneste, now Palestrina, occupies a position of considerable strategic importance, which is closely linked to its historical importance. On top of a mountain and surrounded by powerful walls, the city could control the valley of the Sacco River which was a key point for communications between Etruria and Campania, a region where 2500 years ago the Etruscans had some important settlements.

History of Panarea

Over many centuries Panarea, like all the Aeolian Islands was mostly deserted, and even in 1825 there were only a thousand people on the island, and probably, between the 16th and 17th century, the population was even more scarce because of raids by the Turks. Things probably changed after 1693, when the Turks were defeated by the fleet of Lipari [1].

For the possible Greek and Roman origins of Partinico see further down this page.

From late antiquity until the Arab period we do not have any information about Partinico, except that it remained a small village from ancient until the Byzantine and Arab times. Partinico also more or less followed, in Byzantine times, the same fate that befell Segesta:

The earliest archaeological traces of Paternò date back to the Neolithic period, but the historic city starts with “Ibla”, also called "Galeatis," once famous for its sect of priests that were able to interpret dreams, and dedicated to the worship of the goddess “Ibla”.

The Hellenization of "Hybla Maior" began as early as the 6th century BC, reflecting the influence of Catania, of Greek origin. In Roman times the worship of the Goddess Hybla experienced a moment of special good fortune, and the Roman cult of "Venus Iblea” was born.

The discussion about the antiquity of Patti is very complex, because it revolves around Greek documents on parchment translated into Latin, and about which there have been important studies on their dates and authenticity [1].

Known history of Patti

Starting from "pretty certain" things, we can say that the name "Patti" appears for the first time in a document of Count Roger (1031-1101) dating back to 1094 on:

The ancient history of Pavia dates back to prehistoric times. The city was born not far from the confluence of the Ticino River with the Po River and it was here that first the Ligurians, then the Celtics and later the Gauls chose to settle (the gauls in the 4th century BC). The settlement was at that stage called Ticino, after the name of the nearby river.

The Romans conquered the town in the 2nd century BC while maintaining its name, Ticinum. Because of its geographical position and the importance of land and river traffic routes (the important 'Via Emilia' passed west of Pavia), the Romans always held Pavia in high esteem. As a result the town was first made a 'Municipium' and then its inhabitants achieved Roman citizenship.

Ancient origins

The territory of Pelago (in the Province of Florence) is a very old settlement, with remains found here that date back to the Paleolithic period [from about 600,000-700,000 years ago to roughly 8000 BC]. Other surveys also suggest that there were various ethnic settlements here before the arrival of the Etruscans

“Happy the man who with mind open to the influences of Nature, journeys on a bright day from Cortona to Perugia”, as George Dennis started his poetic study about Perugia. But first a look at the history of the town...

Perugia origins

On the origins of Perugia tradition is not only uncertain, but it has also paved the way for an enormous amount of interpretation, especially from the etymological point of view. There are two principal assumptions about the origins.

For historical events in Pesaro, going back to pre-Roman times, there are few sources. According to Pliny the Elder “Formerly, much of the territory was once under the control of the Sikels and the Liburnians". Then they were ousted by the Umbrians, and they by the Etruscans, and finally the latter by the Gauls.

There is important historical data relating to Peschici confirming the relationship between the Slavs and Peschici; in fact the slave colonies of Peschici and “Vico del Gargano”, erected by Slav soldiers sent by Emperor Otto I of Saxony to defend the Gargano from the Saracens go back to the tenth century.

Despite the medieval origin, Peschici and its surroundings are of great archaeological interest and the “Museum of the Flintstone” in Peschici contains various stone artefacts discovered in the “Sberna Valley", south of the town.

With the advent of the Arabs, Petralia had a period of remarkable economic progress, both because of agricultural innovations introduced by the Arabs and because of trade.

In 1063, after a brave resistance, the city was occupied by Count Roger, who began the period of Norman rule over the city. He fortified the city walls and built a castle, of which some ruins remain.

The question of the antiquity of Piazza Armerina has produced a series of very important, but also extremely intricate studies. It has been identified as one of the "Hyblai" (a series of important historical sites) in Sicily.

As an aside it should be noted that even in ancient times there was a great confusion about the 'Hyblai', since, according to Pausanias (110-180 AD) there were two "Hyblai" while Stephen of Byzantium (6th century AD) believed there were three. We will not go into the details of the discussion, but we can say that modern historians have established that there were two “Hyblai” [1].

The name Pienza is relatively recent, but the town stands on an older development, probably of Roman or Etruscan origin, which was called Corsignano.

In the 12th century the town was listed as Cursinianum (the suffix '-anum' refers to a landed property, belonging to a family called Corsinius). Pienza itself, however, is a new city established by Pope Pius II, ie the great humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini (1405-1464), who was born here.

Pietralunga in antiquity - Forum Iulii Concubiense

We have certain evidence about the historical antiquity of Pietralunga, as demonstrated by the archaeological remains of Roman times:

"Remains of Roman tombs were discovered near San Felice, along the course of an interesting ‘diverticulum’ of the Via Flaminia, whose remains are visible for about 300 meters between the towns of San Felice and Casalecchio" [1].

Pietrasanta is a medieval town situated in the popular and attractive Italian region of Tuscany. Pietrasanta has its origins in the Middle Ages, when the town developed around a Lombard castle and had a fascinating medieval history.

In 13th century Tuscany, the rulers of the city of Lucca pursued an active policy of subjugating the territories that surrounded them, especially in Versilia. This of course led to a great deal of confrontation with the the local feudal lords, and also ongoing confrontations with the other important cities in the region, such as Pisa.

Ancient origins of Pisa

The origins  of Pisa are rather uncertain - there are some hypotheses about a possible Ligurian or Greek origin, and we have evidence of an Etruscan settlement dating from the 6th century. In the 4th century Servius [1] attested that, according to Cato (234-149 BC):

“Pisas tenuerint ante adventum Etruscorum, negat sibi compertum* ” [Cato did not know who had ruled Pisa before the arrival of the Etruscans]. Cato says explicitly that Pisa was founded by the Etruscans and relegates the Greek presence to a vague area, with an equally vague population that he refers to as "talking Greek".

During ancient history Pistoia was known by many names, such as "Pistorium", "Pistoriae", and "Pistoria". The first mention of "Pistorium" is by Pliny the Elder [23-79 AD] (Nat. Hist., 3.52), while the geographer Ptolemy [100-175 AD[] (3.1.43) called it Pistoria. A mention of Pistoia is also found in Titus Maccius Plautus [254-184 BC] ("Captivi", 160)

Ancient region of Caiano

Although Poggio a Caiano is a town, the Caiano historically referes to a larger region, as explained by Tigri:

"Caiano, currently restricted only to Poggio a Caiano, was a vast area in ancient times that spread from Ombrone to Cafaggio“ [2].

The area around Poggio was probably a swampy place, as noted by Livius and also generally accepted by contemporary historians:

History of ancient Buxentum

The old town of “Buxentum” (nowadays called “Policastro Bussentino”) is located on a hill near an old castle and on the right bank of the river Bussento, which has the same name as the city. The ancient Greek and Latin authors knew the town as "Pixunte".

According to the most reliable studies, the settlement was founded by Mikythos, tyrant of Rhegion in 471-470 BC. According to A. La Greca, the foundation of Buxentum was not accidental, but was part of the projects of the tyrants of Reggio, such as Mikythos who aimed to expand to the north towards the Magna Graecia and the Tyrrhenian Sea, in an area that was inhabited by the indigenous Enotrian population that had already absorbed many elements of the Greek culture.

Ancient Poliezzi and the city of Sitana

To reconstruct the ancient history of Polizzi, as with many cities of Sicily, we must refere to Diodorus (90-27 BC), and better still, to the annotators of Diodorus Siculus. In fact, the ancient history of Polizzi begins with a doubtful passage of Diodorus, who wrote about a town called "Sitana".

In the 18th century a great local historian, Giovanni Battista Caruso, starting from text from Diodorus, stated without hesitation that the "Sitana" referred to was the modern Polizzi. 

Poppi probably derived its name from the Roman family known as "Pupia " who once owned large estates here.

In the Middle Ages Poppi was the seat of the powerful Guidi Counts who ruled in Tuscany until the time of Charlemagne, ruling over 200 castles. The Lordship of the Guidi Counts ended in the 15th century, when the whole Casentino became part of the domain of the Signoria of Florence.

Roman town of Portus Herculis and Etruscan Cossa

The history of Porto Ercole in Tuscany [Latin name "Portus Herculis"], is closely linked to that of "Cosa", or "Cossa", which the Greeks called "kossai." While the older settlement of Cossa may be of Etruscan origins [1], "Portus Herculis" does not go back beyond the second century BC. and is actually evidenced only by later sources, such as in Rutilius Namatianus (5th century) [“De Reditu suo”, I, V].

Important information about the history of Pratovecchio in Casentino was provided in the 19th century by E. Repetti, who gave us some information about the location and history of the village:

"this village is located along the left bank of the Arno river, in a narrow plain between the hill of Romena and those of Lonnano and Casa, intersected by the road from Stia that continues by joining with the provincial road of the Casentino. The Arno river, which bathes its walls, is crossed here by a new bridge across which passes the road from Consuma in front of of the hill of Romena...

Raggiolo was once called 'Villa Ragiola', as we can read in a memo written by the Emperor Otto [912-973 AD] in 967:

“Privilege of the Emperor Otto in favor of Gaufredo Ildebrandi: In the name of the Holy undivided Trinity, Otto divine clemency Emperor Augustus deigns to confirm all the following properties: the villa called Agebiani and another called 'Pastina' and the villa called 'Nutinal', a manse in Querceto and the so-called 'Villa Ragiola' and finally the Court of Stignano" [1].

Ragusa in southeastern Sicily is an ancient city which, as we shall see, has changed its name often over the centuries. Let's start by noting that the name by which it was known in the ancient world was "Hybla Heraea", which caused considerable confusion to historians.

One ancient historian even said that in olden times there were in Sicily at least three cities named "Hybla", that is Hybla "Galeatis" (on the slopes of Etna, also known as "Maior", Hybla "Megara" (near Syracuse) and Hybla "Heraea" near the current Ragusa.

The first settlements in the Alcantara Valley date back to the late Copper and Bronze Age. Further down this page you can read the interesting story of whether Randazzo can also be identified as the ancient city of Tiracia.

However, beyond the possible antiquity of the site of Randazzo, contemporary scholars agree that the current town is of medieval origin and presumed to have a foundation dating to Byzantine times, and therefore to the 9th century AD. With the advent of the Arabs, the people of Latin origin searched for safer sites, and founded a village called "Randazzo".

The area of Realmonte, and in general the area surrounding Agrigento, was a fertile land and a large producer of wheat even in Roman and Medieval times. Thanks to the port of Agrigento, the hinterland became a pivotal point not only for production but also for the wheat trade. Al Idrisi (the 12th century Arab chronicler) tells us that:

"[...] the territory of Agrigento was noted for the abundance and variety of its productions and its hinterland was strewn with farm-houses [...]" [1].

The foundation of the city

The history of the origins of Recanati is still quite unclear, even to experts. The earliest 'fact' is that the name Recanati is attested to in a document dating from 1139, when Pope Innocent II (died September 24, 1143) confirmed some property rights to the monastery of “Fonte Avellana” and mentioning a church called Santa Maria di Recanati. The document, taken from “Camaldolesi Annals”, year 1139, said:

"[...] We grant to the Monastery the Church of Santa Maria di Recanati, with other churches and all their appurtenances."

Ancient history of 'Regium' / 'Rhegion'

N. Zappala observed that the Greeks used myths to justify their (often) bloody military conquests, by saying that, during the period of their colonization, they found the Italic territory uninhabited.

Despite what the Greeks said, when they arrived in Italy they did not find uninhabited lands, but indigenous peoples who were routed and subdued, as was the case with the Samnites of "Regium."

According to tradition, it seems that Rende, the old city of “Arintha”, was a city founded by the sister of “Enotrus”, king of the “Enotri” in 520 BC.

In medieval times, Rignano Garganico was a military fortress (“Castellum Rigian") built on the "Via Sacra Langobardorum” to defend the area from external raids (the road had been built to improve communications with Monte Sant'Angelo). Of this original castle there are still the remains of a square tower, and some old houses in the neighbourhood.

Rignano Garganico was for centuries ruled by several families of feudal origin. The first lord of the city was Count Tancred (1138-1194), son of Roger II (1095-1154); in 1158  it was a fief of the “Montesacro” Abbey.

Given its formidable strategic position, Rivello was long disputed between the Byzantines and the Lombards, who conquered and fortified the city, but were forced to live with the Byzantines.

As a result, for a long period of time two religious rites developed in Rivello, one which used a Latin rite in the Church of St. Maria Maggiore, and another of the Greek rite in the Church of St. Michele dei Greci, with a service that was practiced until the 17th century.

Ancient origins of Roccagloriosa

The village of Roccagloriosa that we see today is situated on a hill around the ruins of the castle that was built by Narseh (478-574 AD) during the Gothic-Byzantine war.

However, the actual history of Roccagloriosa takes us far back in time, to the 4th century BC, when the village was built by the old Leukanians, one of the most combative Italic peoples, who collided hard with the Greeks and the Romans. According to Strabo (58-25 BC) the Leucani were Samnitae in race.

In the 12th century Roccamena (previous name Calatrasi) was included in the ecclesiastic jurisdiction of the Bishop of Mazara, who in 1176 renounced his rights in favour of the new Diocese of Monreale, with this 'privilege' confirmed in March 1182.

Medieval Roccella

At the beginning of the 13th century Roccella was donated to the church of Cefalù by the Count of Collesano:

"who belonged to a family of Southern Italy and  (…) he  sided with Henry VI (1165-1197), then getting from him the title of Count of Alife" [10]: 'We give to our Basilica of Cefalù in perpetuity our estate of Collesano with Roccella and all estates under our jurisdiction' " [11].

A decisive event for the birth of Rodi Garganico was the advent of the Lombards in Apulia and Gargano, after having defeated the Byzantines. In fact, the Lombards operated a deep restructuring of the Gargano area, and it is as part of this restructuring that we can glimpse the origins of Rodi Garganico. As S. Fulloni writes:

"[...] the conquest of the Lombards had fundamental consequences for the territory, because now the Lombards counted on a strategic stronghold in the East from which they exercised control functions. Moreover Grimoaldo I (615-661) granted to Bishop Barbato of Benevento (602-683) the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Siponto, which was until now an independent Diocese. The entire Gargano then fell under the influence of the Lombards [...]" [1].

Sabbioneta: “Sabuloneta”

The late duchy of Mantua evolved over an extended period of time linked, as we shall see, to the feudal system that ruled it. In the period between the 9th and 13th centuries Sabbioneta was located, as it already was in Roman times, in the territory of Cremona. In fact, G.L. Gregori stated that:

"In Roman times Sabbioneta belonged to the territory of Cremona and not to Mantua (as T. Mommsen supposed). Sporadic finds are attested only sporadically at Roman times such as rustic villas or necropolis (1).

Things changed radically with the conquest of the territory by the Gonzaga family during the15th century. These newly conquered lands were assigned to the cadet branches of the Gonzaga family. Sabbioneta, which in 1429 became subject to the high dominion of the Gonzaga. At this time it was just a small village with a few buildings along the “Via Postumia” and the “Via Vitelliana” (2).

The name of Sabbioneta was mentioned for the first time in a plaque of the sixth century AD, which is now lost, and we know of it only through references in later learned works.

Saluzzo is mentioned for the first time in 1028, in a document in which it is quoted as a "castrum" (fortress) belonging to the Marquis of Turin, Olderico Manfredi of the “Arduinici” family.

However, some scholars, according to archaeological remains from Roman times, have suggested that Saluzzo was an area of ancient settlement, probably dating from the Iron Age.

The town of San Cataldo developed in an area of ancient settlement, as evidenced by archaeological remains found in the area, but it is not an ancient city, and it was only founded in the early 17th century. In fact, San Cataldo was a "New Town", created for the need to increase production of wheat at a time that was marked by devastating famines.

Ancient history of San Gemini

The ancient history of San Gemini was in past centuries - and still is today - a problem of considerable interest to historians.

Quickly summarizing the data of the problem, according to some historians of the 19th century (and also contemporary historians) San Gemini would be the heir to "Carsulae", of which we have a clear evidence in various ancient authors, among whom are Tacitus [56-117 AD], Pliny the Elder [23-79 AD], and Pliny the Younger [61-112 AD].

San Gimignano was an important centre for trade from the time of its birth as a village in 988.

Many legends are told of the earlier origins of the city, but it is very probable that the ancient San Gimignano was founded in the 6th and 7th century around a church dedicated to San Gimignano, who became the patron saint of the town, and also around Saint Gimignano Castle (also known as the Castello della Selva or 'Castle of the Wood').

According to recent studies the origins of San Giovanni Rotondo are very old; in this sense, it seems that San Giovanni Rotondo is derived from ancient settlements, and in the 4th-3rd century BC the village had been Romanized.

In Roman times the village was called "Bisanum" or "the village of God with two faces (Janus)" and the local inhabitants, before the advent of Christianity, seems to practice the cult of Janus, in whose honour they built a temple, called "La Rotonda", due to its circular shape. Afterwards the area's inhabitants were converted to Christianity, the temple was demolished and in its place a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist was built.

Near the town of San Giuseppe Jato are the ruins of Jato, destroyed by Frederick II of Swabia (1194-1250), because it was considered one of the most important strongholds of the Arab resistance in Sicily.

Today it is recognized without doubt that this was the old "Ietae" or "Ietas" although in the late 1950s there was not this certainty.

Thanks to the scholar’s studies dating back to the 18th century we are now able to reconstruct fairly accurately the historical phases of San Leo, which has often often changed its name over the centuries.

In the case of San Leo, studying the hisitory of the name tells us the history of the city, so we will start with the etymology...

Two villages were founded around the monastery of San Marco in Lamis, now known as "San Marco in Lamis” and “San Giovanni Rotondo”. A document dating back to 1007 shows that the monastic structure of San Giovanni in Lamis  was already well underway, so it is certain that it and the surrounding village dated back to ancient times, even to the sixth century AD.

In fact, R. Infante noted that "the most important and certainly the oldest [monastery in Gargano] was the Benedictine Abbey of San Giovanni in Lamis, which perhaps was originally a 'xenodochium' (literally" hospice ", a sort of hostel, a shelter for strangers), founded by the Lombards.

The name of San Nicandro first appeared in a document dating back to 1095, published by Giovanni del Giudice:

“[...] In the name of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, in the year of its embodiment 1095, and in the 15th year of the government of our Lord and Emperor Alexius, in November, during the seventh Indiction, I, Henry, by God's grace Earl of Monte Sant'Angelo and son and heir of the late Earl Robert of good memory, I give the monastery of “San Giovanni in Lamis”, men and lands of our possessions, that are the towns of Riniano, Castel  Pagano and St. Nicandro" [1].

In Roman times the village was called "Septempeda", and as such it is mentioned by ancient authors as a thriving “Municipium”. The first mention of a place called San Severino is in a document of 944 AD by Bishop Eudone:

"[...] I, Eodone, Bishop, in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all souls of saints, have built foundations of a church in Castle that is called ‘San Severino’ for the salvation of souls ... " [1].

In medieval times Sansepolcro was known as "Burgus Sancti Sepulchri" (“Sansepolcro Village”), due to the fact that two holy pilgrims, Arcanio and Egidio, coming from the Holy Land, founded a church-chapel here to house the many relics they had found in the "Tomb of Christ".

According to other sources (much debated) it seems that the ancient name of the Village was Biturgia, and that it was here that Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) had his sumptuous villa.

The ancient city of Laos, Italy

A few years ago a large urban area was found to the south of the plain of the river Lao (=Laino), near Santa Maria del Cedro, which scholars identified as the ancient Laos, which was a city of the Lucanians, later conquered by the Greeks.

Archaeological excavations brought to light the presence of a fortified town dating from the 4th century BC, with a Greek urban layout and many patrician houses, among which the most famous are the so-called "Casa con la rampa" and the "Casa dei Pithoi". According to Strabo [63 BC-24AD] [1] Laos was located to the right of the river Laos, with the river on the boundary between Lucania and Bruttium.

The archaeological remains show that Sarzana was inhabited from the Neolithic period onwards, but the early history of the city is virtually unknown, and there are few sources of information.

Sarzana is first mentioned in a document of 965 by Emperor Otto III (980-1002), in which the “Castrum Sarzanae”, located where now stands the fortress of “Sarzanello”, was recognized as a possession of the Bishop of Luni; at this time Sarzana was mentioned as a simple castle, called the “Castrum de Sarzana”.

We also know that by the end of 13th century, it appeared as a walled village which included an ancient tower.

History and etymology of Saturnia

Historical sources, archaeological prehistoric and Etruscan remains show that Saturnia is a very ancient city. It is situated at a height of 300 meters above sea level, in the valley of the River Albegna and is well-defended by steep faces.

From the urban point of view, what remains of the ancient city dates from the third century BC, that is the period coinciding with the Romanization of the territory, and the  works constructed since 183, when Saturnia became a Roman colony on the “Via Clodia”, a road linking the city with all the coastal and inland localities of Tuscany.

History and etymology of Sciacca

Sciacca was formerly situated in the territory of Selinus, which included the famous "Baths" known since antiquity as the "Thermae Selinuntiae" and “Aquae Selinuntiae”, located about twenty miles east of Selinus. We do not know with absolute certainty when Sciacca was born, but the most likely hypothesis is that it was a place founded or rather "re-populated" by the inhabitants of “Selinunte” after their city was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 409 BC.

Many of those who managed to escape the massacre, says Diodorus [90-27 BC] [1], sought refuge in Agrigento, but when the Carthaginian storm passed, most of them returned to rebuild their town or to find a new place in the surrounding area, creating a new village which was called “Sciacca”.

Historically, no ancient source mentions Scicli, which, as we will see, has a medieval origin. But it is also true that the area where Scicli is located is extremely rich in archaeological remains, which led to tell fabulous stories about the antiquity of Scicli, which some historians would coincide with the ancient "Casmene".

"From Pozzallo, after 20 miles of trail, the railroad leads to Scicli, which, according to tradition, was founded by Siculus, King of the Sicanians; others inclined to believe that Scicli was built on the site of the ancient Casmene" [1].

In these three lines Battaglia introduced the two main historical and etymological subjects of ancient Scicli.

Ancient Segesta origins

Segesta was a city founded by the Elymians. According to the traditional legend about the foundation of the city the Elymians had a "Trojan" origin.

In fact, legend tells us that Segesta (or Egesta - see etymology further down) was one of the most famous cities of the Elymians, and formerly located on an isolated hill now called "Barbaro", which is washed by the river "Crimiso" (now called "Fiume freddo") and located less than two miles from Calatafimi.

The Castle of Sellano is situated on a hill along the main communication routes that run through the valley of the Vigi, linking Valnerina with Foligno, Spoleto and Camerino. These valleys were of considerable strategic importance for the control of traffic from the Tyrrhenian coast to the Adriatic sea, hence numerous castles arose that formed a compact and uniform system in defence of a major line of communication.

In this sense, the castles of Orsano, Cammoro, Sellano, Postignano and Montesanto controlled the whole territory, with numerous farming villages. One of the most powerful castles in the area was surely the castle of Sellano, which was situated in a strategic position to control trade.

Soranus is the ancient name for the hill town of Sorano, in Tuscany, Italy.

Origins of the name Sorano

With regards to the etymology of Sorano, studies point to a noble family name, "Soranus", and nothing more; but it should be noted that Sorano was an Etruscan area, as amply demonstrated by the cemetery surrounding the village, and the Etruscans had a deeply rooted worship of their God "Soranus", a cult that was practiced in the mountainous and inaccessible areas.

Of ancient Etruscan origin (dating from the 7th century BC), the original settlement here stood on an elevated plain, with very steep slopes and shaped by the two streams that flow around it, the "Folonia" and “Picciolana”.

To the east, where the slope was gentler and allowed an easier climb to the hill and the city the Etruscans built a powerful defensive wall surrounded by a wide moat.

Spello in ancient times

Spello is located on Mount Subasio, not far from Assisi, which is known in much more detail. But the old Roman "Hispellum" has an illustrious history too. It was an ancient city of the Umbrians, known to Greeks and Latins historians and geographers; Strabo (58-25 ca. BC) calls it “Eispellon”, and Ptolemy (90-168 AD) calls it “Ispellon”.

Spello was also a Roman “Municipium” mentioned by Latin writers, such as Silius Italicus (26 ca.-101 AD), who mentions it among the cities that provided soldiers to the Romans, engaged in the Second Punic War (218-201 BC), and also Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) made some notes about Spello, describing it as "Colonia Julia Hispellum" - Augustus (63 BC-14 AD) was responsible for the construction of walls and “thermae”.

The origins of Spoleto, located along the slopes of the hill Saint Elias, date back to the late Bronze Age, as shown by some remains of the necropolis, found in the perimeter of the city.

In the 5th and 4th centuries BC the Umbrians occupied the territory, and the city became a "castrum" (Fortress), with the construction of the so-called “Cyclopean walls”, made of huge blocks of polygonal limestone.

Casentino and the Stia - a history

The Etruscan civilization, which had one of the most powerful Lucumonies in Arezzo, extended its boundaries to the mountains where the Arno meets the Staggio.

There are several archaeological sites of Etruscan and Roman origin in the Casentino region, such as the Temple of Ara at Pieve Socana, the ruins of a Roman Villa in the crypt of Buiano near Poppi and the so-called "Lake of the Idols" on Mount Falterona.

Subiaco, the ancient "Sublaqueum" and "Sublacus", is located on the right bank of the river Aniene. The territory has been inhabited since prehistoric times because of its strategic importance, because this area was linked with the Abruzzi, the Sabina area and the plain of Latium.

In pre-Roman times the region was inhabited by the Equi, of Osco-Umbrian origin, who lived by hunting, herding and agriculture, and who barricaded themselves in powerful "oppida" [fortified towns] located on the hills. Around the 5th century BC,  the Equi were harshly attacked by the Romans.

Below we give a 'brief' history of Sybaris and Thurii, then a history of the more recent town of Terranova di Sibari, followed by a more detailed history and etymology for Sybaris for those who are interested...

Founding of Sybaris

Sybaris was the first and by far the most important of the colonies founded by the Dorians on the coast of southern Italy.

The foundation of the town is traditionally dated to around 720 BC (according to Pseudo-Scimno [III century]) or 708 B.C. (according to Eusebius [III-IV century]), but it is likely that we should really go back to around 750 B.C., since by 700 BC, the Sybarites had established a settlement of about 300,000 inhabitants and an important power base which included, among many other colonies, that of Posidonia (also known as Paestum), a city that lies at the mouth of the Silarus river (today 'Sele'), on the Tyrrhenian coast of Lucania.

Around 733 BC Doric populations originating from Corinth, led by the oecist Archias, founded Syracuse in Sicily on the islet of Ortigia, where there already existed a nucleus of Sicilians.

The fortified town of Talamone enjoys a superb view over an excellent natural harbour, from a headland that has been inhabited since prehistoric times - excavations have shown that the first settlements date back to the Middle Bronze Age and around the Late Bronze Age (10th-11th century BC) the first structures of the port area were formed, with a sparse population.

A little knowledge of the ancient history of Taormina is useful in helping you make the most of your visit. Taormina was known in antiquity as 'Tauromenion' by the Greeks and then as 'Tauromenium' by the Romans.

The story of Taormina has its origins in - and is interwoven with - that of Giardini-Naxos, a Greek colony founded by Teocle and then destroyed by Dionysius (430-367 B.C.), a tyrant of Syracuse in 403 B.C.

The colony of 'Taras' was founded around 705-706 B.C. (although some scholars believe it dates from even earlier, around 800 BC), when some Spartans settled here.

Taras (later Taranto) was destined to become one of the most famous cities of 'Magna Graecia' (the Greater Greece Empire).

Tarquinia is located about 200 meters above sea level in Maremma (Latium), near Viterbo. Recent discoveries of Archeology in Tarquinia go back to a very ancient time. In the past, scholars believed that the city dated back to the 7th century BC, but apparently it should go further back in time, even to the 9th-10th century BC, as some “Villanovian” tombs have been identified.

Scholars agree about recognising Tarquinia as the ancient Etruscan city of “Tarchna" or "Tarchuna", the etymology of which refers to the noble “Tarquinius”. There is general agreement on this etymology, though one scholar [1] has raised a concern, because, in his opinion, "Tarchna" should be translated into Latin as “Tarqui-t-ius”, and not “Tarqui-n –ius”; however, the relation "Tarchna"-"Tarqui-n-ius" is generally accepted.

Ancient Termini Imerese and Imera

According to tradition, an ancient town called Imera was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 409 BC, and then the same Carthaginians built the new town of “Thermai Himeraiai” on a nearby site. Therefore, as it is repeated again today:

"In 409 BC the city was conquered and destroyed by the Carthaginians of Hannibal (247-182 BC), who deported the survivors to the nearby hot springs. Where shortly after (in 407) they founded ‘Thermai Himeraiai’ " [5].

Geography and the history of Terni

The geographical situation of the ancient area of Terni was delineated by G. Bradley, a scholar of the territory, who said: “Interamna Nahhars lay at the eastern edge of an important plain, known today as 'Conca Ternana'.

Overlooking the plain are two of the great southern Umbrian Massifs, Monte Torre Maggiore to the north and Monte San Pancrazio to the south, whose peaks held sanctuaries from at least the fifth century BC.

The area of Terracina was inhabited by the Etruscans in the 6th century BC, and later by the Volsci.

Under the Romans rule, in the first decades of the second century BC, many paved streets were built, temples of marble, with columns and statues, villas, shrines, oracles, and also the impressive acropolis, the temple of “Jupiter Anxur” on Mount St.Angel. Under the emperor Trajan (53-117 AD), in the 2nd century, there was the expansion of the port that allowed the city to grow, thanks to new wealth, derived from the new businesses.

In the early history of the small town of "Terrasini" there are some elusive facts which still have not been discovered, among which  is the true meaning of “Terrasini.”

The foundation of Terrasini

Historically Terrasini (inhabited mostly by peasant families) arose in the 17th century after a union with Favarotta (a fishermens village). The name ‘Favarotta’ is derived from 'fawar', the Arabic for 'fountain'; it refers to a spring of cool water that gushes up from slabs of rose shale where Our Lady of Providence surveys the tuna fleet [8].

An ancient town of many names

The town of Tindari is mentioned by many historic authors and ancient geographers under different names; the most common was “Tyndaris”, while for Ptolemy [100-175 AD] it was "Tyndarion" and for Archestratus [mid 4th century BC] the town was called  “Tyndaris akté” (meaning “the promontory of Tindari”) [1].

Todi, the ancient town called “Tuder”, is situated on a hill about 400 meters above sea level, between the rivers Naja and Rio, tributaries of the Tiber.

In the pre-Roman period, Todi was the most powerful fortress city of the Umbrias in a difficult area, bordering on the Etruscans.

"In umbris Tuder sunt principes" ["The ‘Tudertini’ are the first among the Umbrians"] [2].

From prehistory to the Romans in Tolentino

The old town of Tolentino - called originally Tolentinum - is situated on a hill with a round base, at the foot of which the Chienti River flows. Tolentino is in a territory of ancient settlement, and archaeological studies show the presence of hunters here in the Lower Paleolithic era.

Local civilization is also well attested in the Iron Age necropolis of Tolentino (sixth century BC), which has funeral finds giving signs of the presence of a warrior society, for example with weapons, bronze vessels, potteries and various ornaments in tombs.

To learn something about historic “Taarbia” it is necessary to turn to Al Idrisi, the only ancient Arab source about Trabia. Al Idrisi wrote:

"To the west of Termini there is a town that is called 'At Tarbî'ah' ["the square", town of Trabia], a charming resort, full of perennial waters that move several mills. Trabia has a plain and vast estates in which are manufactured  large quantities of pasta [in Arabic ‘Itriya’), which is exported to all places, [ especially] Calabria and to other Muslim and Christian countries" [7].

Like Segesta, Eryx was a stronghold of the Elymi, and at the foot of Mount Eryx there was "Drepana" (later Trapani, see etymology further down) which was the first military port of the Carthaginians.

Trevi in Roman times

The ancient small town of Trevi (Lat. "Trebia") was the subject of extensive studies from the mid-16th century. It was built presumably in Roman times and we have the oldest mention of it in Pliny [1], who referred to the inhabitants of Trevi, calling them "Trebiates".

Another important source regarding the antiquity of Trevi is found in Suetonius [2], in relation to a sum of money allocated to "Trebiates" for the construction of a theater:

"To grant to the inhabitants of Trevi this sum for the construction of the new theater" (Tib. XXXI).

Romantic - yet incorrect - origins to the history of Tricarico

The territory of the old Lucanians around Tricarico was studied from the eighteenth century because of many English and French travelers that became interested in particular about the presence of the Greeks in southern Italy. They were pushed, in particular, by their reading of classical authors of the so called "Megale Hellas" or "Magna Graecia".

According to a well-established tradition, the “Castello di Tusa” is in the same location as the ancient city of "Alaisa", in Latin called "Halaesa.”

Origins of Ancient Halaesa

The ruins of “Halaesa” spread across the eastern side of a hill, to the left of the Tusa stream (the ancient "Halaesus") and at about two hundred meters altitude. It was a mile from the coast, north to the mouth of which there was the town harbour [1]. The archaeological remains found “in situ”, include a temple dedicated to Apollo and are presumed to demonstrate the validity of this assumption, proposed by many experts.

Tuscania, like many neighboring towns, is situated on seven headlands of 'tuff', between the Marta and Capecchio rivers and overlooking the Marta valley, an important road that since prehistoric times has connected the Lake of Bolsena with the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Umbertide is located in the Upper Tiber Valley, in the province of Perugia, at a height of about 250 meters above sea level and at the center of a valley surrounded by hills.

We know that Urbino has very ancient origins, since it was referred to by Servius, in his "Commentary of the 'Aeneid'" (5, 755), written 2500 years ago.

The island of Ustica was known, albeit imperfectly, in the ancient world, and the sources sometimes differ slightly...

Ancient Ustica in literature

The ancient sources about Ustica are Ptolemy (100-175 AD), Diodorus (who lived in the 1st century BC), Pomponius Mela (who wrote around AD 43) and Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD). Pomponius Mela wrote:

Early history of Vaglio

Evidence shows that Serra di Vaglio  - the original town on the site of Vaglio Basilicata, was the capital, political and military settlement of the Lucanians (see etymology below). The city of Serra di Vaglio developed from the 8th to the 3rd century BC.

It is with a document written in 820 AD by Emperor Louis the Pious (778-840 AD) in Aachen that we have the first mention of a village called "Vado Fabricae" (Valfabbrica).

In the document, the Abbot of the Monastery situated "desuper [above] Vado Fabricae" asked the Emperor Louis the Pious for its high protection against the enemies of the monastery (who were many). The Emperor responded to the petition in this way:

The ancient monastery at Vallombrosa was founded, according to religious tradition, by the nobleman Giovanni Gualberto. He was born in Florence at the beginning of the 11th century.

The village these days known as "Valtopina" rose in the Early Middle Ages, but the area was known in Roman times.

Valtopina in Roman and ancient times

The Valley of the river Topino was well known by the Romans. F. Lugano [1] pointed out that:

Ventimiglia is located at the mouth of the River Roia where it flows into the Ligurian Sea. The Roia divides the city into two zones, the Medieval Part, the so-called "Upper Ventimiglia," and the modern town, built from the beginning of the 19th century on the Left Bank.

The ancient settlement of Hipponion

The latest archaeological studies confirm that throughout the coastal area of Vibo Valentia human settlements existed since the Neolithic period which based their economy on maritime traffic in obsidian from the Aeolian Islands. Some ancient sources testify then that the foundation of the Locrian colony named “Hipponion” [=Vibo Valentia] took place around the end of the seventh century BC.

As often when looking at the history of Sicilian towns, we can thank Paolo Orsi (1859-1935) for the first pioneering studies on the territory of Vizzini: the eminent archaeologist laid the foundations of knowledge about the city, the site of which had until then been mistakenly overlooked from an archaeological and topographic point of view.

Origins of the name Volterra

A very ancient city of Etruscan origin, Volterra was originally known by the name of Velathri, a term used quite widely across the Etruscan region. According to linguists Velathri derives from the ancient 'Velzna', a term also related to other place names such as Feltre, the old Volsinii (Orvieto), and Bologna (in the Etruscan language 'Felsina' or 'Felsnal').

The name, according to the most authoritative Italian scholars, while indicating a place, would originally have been an ancient name of a noble family then later becoming a place name. As for the meaning of the term, it seems that the Etruscan names containing the root 'Vel' usually indicated a height, a hill. By extension, the same root as "Vel" was found in the names of families of "high" status. The Romans translated the name as Volaterrae

The notes about artists on this page are supplementary to the main articles about the towns and churches where these Italian artists are encountered - see indivdual Italian towns as mentioned for more details:

Villa del Casale

The important Roman monument of Villa del Casale is best known for its very fine mosaics. See Piazza Armerina for general information, article below for detailed interpretation of the importance and symbolism of the mosaics at Villa del Casale.

Orvieto cathedral

The city of Orvieto is closely identified with its cathedral, one of the greatest masterpieces of Italian Gothic and built between 1290 and 1330.

Inside it contains a number of works of art of extraordinary value, such as the bronze bust of Urban VIII (1568-1644) by Bernini, the "Madonna and Saints" by Pinturicchio (1454-1513), some frescoes by Gentile da Fabriano (1375-1427), Filippo Lippi (1406-1469), and Signorelli (1445-1523).

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