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mail: Bill Thayer 
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Fiamenga

Three Clear Signs of a Roman Presence


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The ruler-straight main street of Fiamenga: and some of the bumper stones you see are Roman.

All three of the classic signs of Roman presence are found in this village W of Foligno:

1: A rectangularly engineered landscape
usually involving perfectly straight roads, regular street grids or centuriated fields. Here, the Flaminia itself has become the cardo as it were of a classic modern single-street town, just large enough in turn for the builders of the modern highway to detour ever so slightly: a four‑block-long swerve about 20 meters S of the old road.

2: Roman stone


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The Romans built to last; we their successors often just appropriate this good cut stone, as in this case. The tub you see above is almost certainly Roman. But is it a sarcophagus, or was it a fountain then as it is today? Either way, the proud owner has had several offers, and doesn't want this piece of history to leave his home town.

(If you're really interested and think you might be able to tell, take a look at this view, that shows the scale better — this thing is about 45 centimeters shorter than your usual sarcophagus — and this one, showing the water run-off, which may be ancient, maybe not.)

This obvious if slightly mysterious Roman box is not the only lapidary evidence, though; Fiamenga is actually littered with Roman stone — starting with the rectory garden.

3: Toponymy
The third classic trace is invisible, but very real and very valuable nonetheless: Roman placenames.

In this case, Fiamenga undoubtedly derives from *Flaminica. That in turn suggests a feminine noun in Late Antiquity: mansio, statio, villa for example. My money is on the last: 2 Roman miles away from Fulginiae, it's not far enough to warrant a horse-changing station; but in this flood plain, which became flat fertile farmland once the Romans drained it, a large farmhouse and its dependencies, close to the road for transportation, make fair sense. 
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Page updated: 29 Aug 05