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Roman Ruins and Romanesque Churches

A town of central Umbria: 42°56.0N, 12°36.5E. Altitude: 207 m. Population in 2003: 4900.

[image ALT: A wide view of an open square on which front several medieval buildings, with a hexagonal fountain in the center. It is the main square of Bevagna, Umbria (central Italy).]
The Piazza Silvestri, one of the most dramatic town squares in Italy.

The little walled city of Bevagna is one of the most attractive places of central Umbria, in the plain of the Topino River about 8 km W of Foligno. Unusually for Umbria, it is not a hilltown, but is pretty flat, sitting in a shallow basin at the foot of the northern end of the Colli Martani, the mountainous backbone of Umbria; with good restaurants and hotels and easy parking, at the end of a long day of touring it's nice to come home to a place where you don't have to fight sharp inclines on your after-dinner walk.

Such an advantage would count for nothing if the town were unattractive, but Bevagna is loaded with interesting and beautiful sights: Roman mosaics, the remains of a Roman theatre and of two Roman temples, and half a dozen good churches, most of them medieval: among which the frescoed Sant' Agostino, S. Domenico, S. Margherita; and above all, the great Romanesque churches of S. Michele and S. Silvestro that face each other across the square you see above.

Bevagna is very close to three other important beauty spots of Umbria, at most fifteen minutes away by car: 7 km NW of Montefalco, 12 km SW of Spello, and about 15 km NW of Trevi. Put it all together, and in my opinion Bevagna is the best possible base for visiting the heart of Umbria; provided you have a car. (If you don't, see Trevi.)

A proper website is obviously in the works, since I've been to Bevagna and walked the area several times, and since I tend to focus on Roman remains, something there is no shortage of here. In the meanwhile, you may find it useful to read these entries of my diary, which include more photos: Sep. 30 – Oct. 1, 1997 (two pages) • Oct. 15, 1997 • Oct. 29, 1997 • May 3, 2004; and more marginally: Sep. 27, 1997 • Sep. 30, 1998. For further information of course, you should also see the websites linked in the navigation bar at the bottom of the page.

Here then are my first steps so far toward that proper website:

[image ALT: A long stretch of Roman wall sloping uphill to a gate with two 12‑sided towers.]

[ 4/11/02: 4 pages, 10 photos ]

In Roman times, Mevania was a small administrative center of somewhat greater importance than now. The city had a theatre, several temples, baths with mosaics, and an amphitheatre: vestiges remain of all of these, and they'll continue to trickle onto this website. Mevania also had extensive Roman walls noted by Pliny the Elder which pose a minor mystery: more about that later, as well.

[image ALT: A stone carving of the Archangel Michael from the door of S. Michele.]

[ 1/20/07: 15 churches, 7 pages, 33 photos ]

I've chipped away at the churches of Bevagna in several passes from 1997 to 2004. Each time S. Michele and S. Silvestro have been closed because of damage in the earthquakes of September-October 1997: feared, sustained, and now at last, being repaired. As a result, a full site hasn't proved possible yet, but I can still show you some of the others.

[image ALT: A composite capital of the Renaissance period, with Ionic volutes on Corinthian foliage, and a grotesque face in the foliage on each side. The image serves as my icon for the book 'Spello, Bevagna, Montefalco' by Giulio Urbini.]

[ 6 pages, 25 photos ]

Mind you, I'm not the first person to write about Bevagna! Giulio Urbini was an Umbrian art historian who devoted much of his life to telling the story of his part of the world; the Bevagna section of his book Spello, Bevagna, Montefalco provides a fairly complete overview of the town. (In Italian)

The Frazioni

Like most of the comuni in Italy, Bevagna includes in its territory some smaller towns and hamlets, of a few hundred inhabitants if that, with a certain administrative identity of their own: as elsewhere in Italy, these are referred to as the frazioni of the comune (singular: frazione, literally a "fraction"). I've been to three of them, and have little sites on them:

[ 1 page, 5 photos ]

Cantalupo has a modern church (the bright red façade of which vanished between my two visits to the town) and an 18c Annunciation; not far from the village, the Franciscan shrine at Pian d'Arca, although it's actually part of the neighboring comune of Cannara.

[image ALT: A truncated stone obelisk about 4 meters high, surmounted by a metal eagle in flight. The side facing the camera is the front, and bears the low relief sculpture of a soldier in battle gear; beneath him, carved garlands and the inscription in bronze letters, CANTALUPO AI SUOI CADUTI. The monument is set on three steps in a small lawn under a few pine trees. It is the Monument to the War Dead in Cantalupo, near Bevagna, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 4 photos ]

Gaglioli: the small but densely medieval town in the midst of its olive groves has a 14c church; the settlement may date back to Roman times.

[image ALT: A narrow street; the one-story house on the left is of irregular stone masonry, that on the right of mixed stone and brick, with a narrow metal-railed staircase decorated with baskets of flowers. Across the street in the background, not 10 meters from the camera, a windowless stuccoed one-story arch crosses it. It is a typical street scene in Gaglioli, near Bevagna, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 3 pages, 13 photos ]

Limigiano is represented for now by its main sight, the medieval abbey church of S. Michele.

[image ALT: A narrow street leading to a large stone arch over it; in the background thru the arch, part of a modern stuccoed house. It is a street scene in Limigiano, near Bevagna, Umbria (central Italy).]

Completing the list, with offsite links where possible: Capro Castelbuono Torre del Colle

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Site updated: 6 Dec 21