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Vestiges of the Via Flaminia, or maybe not:
Free Association on some Roman Stone


[image ALT: A stone church, about 8 meters long and 4 meters tall, viewed from the side. The church is built into a slope of about 15 degrees on a rocky hillside shaded by a few small oaks. The masonry is for the most part irregular courses of rectangular stones, with four very large blocks of different stone inserted, one of them measuring over 1 meter in length. It is a view of the S side of the church of S. Donato near Matigge, Umbria (central Italy).]

The four large blocks of squared travertine are clearly Roman.
The question is: what do they come from?

Reuse of Roman stone in the fabric of churches is common thruout Umbria, and elsewhere. These particular stones probably relate to the Via Flaminia somehow, but here the uncertainties begin.

Maps I have seen show the Flaminia N of Trevi — the eastern branch of the consular road — as a fan-shaped group of somewhat winding dotted lines petering out into nothingness over the flanks of these hills before reaching Foligno. This is not convincing. Granted that one should think of the large consular roads as systems rather than single roads, there was still a main trunk, it made it to Fulginiae and Forum Flaminii, and the odds are it was straight and in the plain: "odds", because we don't absolutely know the entire course of the Flaminia, and because the evidence shows that at some point in late Antiquity, the road was moved up the side of the hill a bit because of flooding in the plain — but surely not this far. Our church, at 343 m altitude, is 125 m above local water levels and about a kilometer away from the likely location of the earlier road.

S. Donato is a few hundred meters S of the village of Matigge. I'm very much tempted — any neophytes out there in cyberspace should view this phrase as meaning that there is not a shred of evidence for my idea, or at least none I know of — to see the name Matigge as deriving from *Matidia(e) and thus possibly from a shrine to Hadrian's mother-in‑law, who died and was deified in 119 A.D. Just 25 km from here, in the main gate of Massa Martana, I've seen an inscription dated only 4 years later, recording the restoration of the Flaminia by Hadrian in that area; mind you that's on the western branch, and I have no explanation for why Matidia should have been commemorated in this out‑of-the‑way spot rather than some other, but it's possible: maybe her family had a villa here, or maybe this was the stretch of the Flaminia that was being restored on the day she died. 
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Page updated: 31 Oct 04