History of Magione, Italy

See Magione guide for highlights and historic monuments

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...

... The latter are products of the Imperial age and connected with Mithraic worship (a pinax with a scene of tauroctony, 'foculi', glassware with snakes, votive statues) which incorporate the Hellenistic cult, devoted to Artumes. The Mithraeum  of Colle Arsiccio (is part of) a system of Mithraic places that appeared during Roman age in the heart of central Italy” [1].


A Tauroctony is a relief carving of a bull being killed by Mithras - hence the name comes from the Greek word for killing bulls, 'tauroktonos'. Mithras was an ancient Persian god, and central to the Mithraic religion practiced in the Roman Empire from the 1st century to the 4th century AD.

Other areas of archaeological interest for studying Etruscan and ancient times here include the remains of a Roman temple at Caligiana [Magione], with the discovery of a statue of the goddess Hygeia, and part of a votive deposit:

"Other objects from the temple of Caligiana Igea were found, among which a large bronze mirror with the story of '"Leda's Egg", and various other ornaments such as bronze helmets and spears, iron swords and strigils" [2].

Magione in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages Magione was called "Pian Di Carpine" and was located along the important road linking Perugia and Cortona. The place name "Carpinu" is mentioned for the first time in a document dating back to 1076, when a certain "Pepo" gave some of his lands to the countryside of Perugia:

“I, Pepo, give some of my lands that I own in the countryside of Perugia, in a place called Valcignano, located within the Parish of San Salvino: that is a farm which is located in Carpinu" [3].

Magione was once home to a section of the the Knights Templar Order, called the Temple of Jerusalem, which was suppressed by  Pope Clement VI (1291-1352) in 1307. The “Magione”, consisting of the church of S Maria and a building or house and its neighbour in 1390 was granted to the Knights Hospitallers of Malta.

The Castle of Magione is famous for some historical characters and events. Magione in 1256 and in 1261 was the scene of a revolt by the peasants, because the city was subject to the harsh rule of the Order of the Knights of Malta and in the mid-13th century the population, supported by the Bishop of Perugia, rebelled against the Knights of Jerusalem.

The peasants of Magione in medieval documents were mentioned as “homines de Plano Carpinis” [men of Pian del Carpine]. In documents they are also mentioned as "manentes", "vasalli", "fideles", "adscriptici”, all of which are terms reflecting the level of subordination of the peasants in regard to their landlords. [9].

A figure of great importance for the town was Giovanni da Pian del Carpine (1182-1252), presumably a native of Magione, and who made a famous journey among the Mongols - see See “Historia Mongalorum” [13].

Giovanni da Pian del Carpine

At the beginning of the 20th century scholars were not agreed that Giovanni da Pian del Carpine and his family were natives of Magione - for example, G. Pullé, while not denying that Giovanni da Pian del Carpine was a native of the town, made some remarks about his family:

"Salimbene in his chronicle tells of having met Brother John, a native of Pian del Carpine, at the end of 1247 in a small town located in the district of Perugia. The existence of this town is confirmed by some local historians. It was only at the beginning of the 19th century that Pian del Carpine changed the old name for Magione. However, while the new name indicates a single village, the ancient name 'Piano del Carpine' indicated in past centuries the entire valley" [10].

However, the matter was taken up by O. Tosti, who, remembering some documents that identify Pian del Carpine with the modern Magione, concluded that this country was the birthplace of Fra Giovanni da Pian del Carpine [11]. About Giovannii Pian del Carpini, W. W. Rockhill wrote:

“Friar John of Pian de Carpine set out from Lyons on the i6th of April, 1245; after various incidents which will be found related in his narrative of his journey (he) delivered the letter from the Pope, not to  any Mongol Prince in Russia, but to Kuyuk Khan himself in northern Mongolia, not far from the city of Karakorum. On the 9th of June, 1247, Friar John and his companion, Friar Benedict of Poland, were back in Kiev in Russia; and in the autumn of the same year they again reached Lyons, where they presented to the Pope the reply of Kuyuk to his letter, and related the incidents of their adventurous journey” [12].

During September and October 1502, at the hospital of Magione, a plot was hatched by some nobles of central Italy against Cesare Borgia (1475-1507), son of Pope Alexander VI Borgia (1431-1503). The plot of Magione was a remarkable event in Italian history and Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) wrote an admirable reconstruction of it, telling how Cesare Borgia took vengeance on the conspirators, slaughtering them in Senigallia.

After the rule of Perugia, Magione remained part of the Papal States until the Unification of Italy in 1861.

Origins of the name Magione - Carpinu - Pian del Carpine

In medieval documents "'Carpinu', was also called "Villa Carpini" and "Universitas Plani Carpinis" [Town of Pian del Carpine] or "Plano del Carpine." As we can see, from the outset Pian del Carpine had many variants, so in the "Analecta Franciscana” we read:

“the exact name of the town is 'Carpinis' or 'de Carpine': formerly it was called 'Planum Carpinis'; it was a castle in the district of Perugia, as evidenced also by Salimbene (1221-1288): “Planum Carpinis is in the district of Perugia, called in Italian 'Pian di Carpine', today it is also called Magione, a city of the territory of Perugia" [4].

In the early 2th century W. W. Rockhill, stressed that:

“The editors of the Analecta Franciscana (III, 266) remark that it would be more correct to use the Latin names Piano Carpinis or de Carpine, Planum Carpinis or Planum Carpi, being the Latin form of the Italian Pian di Carpina, the modern Pian la Magione or Magione, about fourteen miles from Perugia" [5].

Thus, the modern name of Pian del Carpine is Magione:

“for a long time it has been certified that Pian del Carpine had been a village in the district of Perugia, whose name in the early 19th century was Magione" [7].

The place name "Magione" indicates that a castle of the Knights of Malta was built here in the 13th century, known as "Badia" or "Magione" (maison = house) of the Knights of St. John in Pian del Carpine. With regard to the etymology of the ancient name [Planum Carpinis], already in the 19th century, A. Fabretti observed:

" Càrpine o càrpino, ‘carpinus’ is a kind of a very hard and dense wood, which now in the countryside of Perugia is also called 'carpanaccio'; it is  used for the teeth on the wheels of water-mills” [8].

See the Magione travel guide before visiting.


1. See F. Morandini, “Una testimonianza del culto mitraico a Colle Arsiccio di Magione (PG)”, in “RdA”, 2006, XXX, pp. 77-91, p. 77)

2. See “Itinerari etruschi”, 1971 , p. 343 ff.

3. See, “Studi linguistici italiani”,  1984, p. 261 - 262

4. See "Analecta Franciscana", 1897, Vol. III, p. 266

5. see also Liverani, 12) [ See W. W. Rockhill, “The Journey of William of Rubruck and John of Pian del Carpine”, London,  1900, p. XXII footnote 1

6. See“Lingua Nostra”, 1974 , p. 92

7. See“Archivum franciscanum historicum”,  1914, p. 760

8. See A. Fabretti, “Cronaca della città di Perugia”, in “Archivio storico italiano”, Firenze, 1850, Volume XVI, p. 477 footnote 3

9. See, C. Regni, “Fiscalità cittadina e comunità rurali. Perugia, secoli XIV e XV”, In “Protesta e rivolta contadina nell'Italia medievale”, Edited by G. Cherubini, 1995, p. 116-120

10. See “Historia Mongalorum”. Viaggio di F. Giovanni da Pian del Carpine”, Edited by G. Pullé, Firenze, 1913, pp. 24-25

11. See “Bullettino senese di storia patria”, 1942, p. 58

12. Vedi W. W. Rockhill, “The Journey of William of Rubruck and John of Pian del Carpine”, London,  1900,  p. XXIII

13. See “Historia Mongalorum”. Viaggio di F. Giovanni da Pian del Carpine”, Edited by G. Pullé, Firenze, 1913,  p. 52