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Bill Thayer

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Orte (Viterbo province)

A town of northwestern Lazio: 42°27.5N, 12°23E. Altitude: 132 m. Population in 2003: 7900.

[image ALT: A cornfield, and in the background, rising out of it about two kilometers away, a squat hill with a titghtly-packed town of some two hundred three-story houses. It is a view of Orte, in the northern Lazio (central Italy).]

View roughly NW from the road to Penna in Teverina.

Orte is a very ancient hilltown over­looking the Tiber river, a regional center 80 km NNW of Rome on the road to Orvieto roughly 48 km N; it is 30 km E of Viterbo and SW of the Umbrian towns of Narni (18 km) and Terni (28 km); and conveniently close to Amelia and Bomarzo, 15 km N and W, respectively.

Orte derives its disproportionate prominence in the mind of the traveler, and most of its livelihood, from a major railway station in the modern frazione of Orte Scalo, where two important train lines converge on their way to Rome: the one from Florence and the one from the Adriatic via Foligno, that serves large areas of Umbria and the Marche; and in fact Orte Scalo, with 4000 inhabitants, is a bit larger than the capoluogo, at 3200.

Orte is more than its train station, however. If its Etruscan remains are mostly in the Vatican, and if the later Roman city of Horta has left few traces, mostly because thanks to its strategic position it was thoroughly sacked by Goths, Byzantines and Lombards, the mediaeval period is well represented by several buildings, especially the 12c Romanesque church of S. Silvestro, said to rest on the ruins of a Roman temple, and the Casa delle Colonne, now a bank, which also dates to the 12c but incorporates Roman columns a thousand years older.

A small website will eventually appear here, since after having changed trains or gone thru here many times over the years, in the summer of 2000 I finally walked up the hill and saw the old town, if briefly. In the meanwhile, you may find it interesting to read the Jul. 20, 2000 entry of my diary, with an additional photograph; for the Roman port on the Tiber now called Serípola, with photo, see Sep. 18, 1998.

For more complete and detailed information, you should see the websites in the navigation bar at foot of this page, of course.

[image ALT: A stylized representation of a metal hand-mirror, taken from the binding of a book. It is an Etruscan mirror motif representing that book, George Dennis's 'Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria'.]

The serious student with an interest in the Etruscans will not want to miss the chapter on Horta in George Dennis's Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, in which he discusses Etruscan tombs and finds in the area but mostly topographical questions: the location of the Battle of Lake Vadimon, identifying Castellum Amerinum.

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Page updated: 30 Apr 20