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Ficulle (Terni province)

A town of central Umbria: 42°50.1N, 12°04E. Altitude: 437 m. Population in 2003: 1700.

[image ALT: A 2‑lane asphalted road, onto the right side of which front five or six three-story buildings with wrought-iron balconies and wooden shutters. In the background, the road veers somewhat to the left, being blocked by a small castle with a machicolated round tower. It is a view of Ficulle, Umbria (central Italy).]

The Rocca of Ficulle, as seen from the main road into town.

Ficulle is a hilltown on the old road from Orvieto (23 km south) to Chiusi across the border in southern Tuscany (30 km north). A farming center locally known for its functional ceramics, it is also, and more importantly, one of the principal producers of DOC Orvieto wine.

People have undoubtedly lived in the area for at least 2500 years; on the far fringes of town about 1 km S — in the photo above, behind us and down the road a ways — a group of caves on which the church of the Maestà now sits is viewed by some as an Etruscan burial-place. But though it is locally maintained that Ficulle was founded in Roman times by displaced Samnites, this idea of the antiquity of the actual town is not supported by any particular remains, and by Italian standards, it is clear that Ficulle is in fact of relatively recent origin, gradually accreting around the first castle, variously dated from the 8c to the 11c.

In its current state, the Rocca is reduced to two towers and some walls; they date to around 1100, but are in fairly good shape. A more striking medieval castle in the territory of the comune is at Sala, 5 km south: see my page below.

Ficulle's best church, with a beautiful Gothic door, some curious frescoes and a Mithraic inscription, is the 12c Pieve of S. Maria Vecchia, on the southern outskirts of town; but there are several other fairly old churches, among which S. Maria Nuova (early 17c).


[image ALT: An ornate composite stone capital of the Renaissance period. It is a detail of the cloister of S. Francesco in Ficulle, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 1/19/07: 5 churches, 7 pages, 24 photos ]

For the most part, what I can show you is the churches of Ficulle; and at that, not as thoroughly as might be wished: some interesting things nonetheless.

Ficulle has a nice gritty feel to it and I zipped thru town faster than I'd have liked, without exhausting the sights by any means — so I hope to return, at which point we should have a much fuller website here. In the meanwhile, you may find it useful to read the Apr. 30, 2004 entry of my diary, which includes another photo of Ficulle; for further information, see the websites linked in the navigation bar at the bottom of the page.

The Frazioni

Most of the comuni in Italy include in their 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"). Ficulle has two, and I've walked thru one of them:

Sala is famous for its striking 15c castle, substantially intact or at least beautifully restored, which is now the photogenic flagship of the Antinori family's vineyards; the Muffato di Sala produced there is one of the best — and most expensive — sweet wines of Italy.

[ 1 page, 5 photos ]


[image ALT: A large complex of 3‑story stone buildings with tile roofs, forming a cloister-like square about 60 meters on a side, with an oversized cylindrical tower, crenelated and machicolated with a covered watch walk, at one corner, a more ordinary cylindrical tower at another corner, and a small belfry of the type known as 'campanile a vela' barely peeking over the rest. It is set in a small valley delimited at the far end by a line of cypresses then a tall hill rises from there. It is a view of the castle of Sala, near Ficulle in Umbria (central Italy).]

The other frazione, for which I could not find a good offsite link, is Olevole.


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Page updated: 24 Aug 12