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An article from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain.
Any color photos are mine, © William P. Thayer.


Ticinum (the modern Pavia) is an ancient city of Gallia Transpadana, founded on the banks of the river of the same name (now the Ticino river) a little way above its confluence with the Padus (Po). It is said by Pliny to have been founded by the Laevi and Marici, two Ligurian tribes, while Ptolemy attributes it to the Insubres. Its importance in Roman times was due to the extension of the Via Aemilia from Ariminum to the Padus (187 B.C.), which it crossed at Placentia and there forked, one branch going to Mediolanum and the other to Ticinum, and thence to Laumellum where it divided once more, one branch going to Vercellae (and thence to Eporedia and Augusta Praetoria) and the other to Valentia (and thence to Augusta Taurinorum or to Pollentia). The branch to Eporedia must have been constructed before 100 B.C. Ticinum is not infrequently mentioned by classical writers. It was a municipium, and from an inscription we know that a triumphal arch was erected in honor of Augustus and his family, but we learn little of it except that in the 4th century A.D. there was a manufacture of bows there. It was pillaged by Attila in A.D. 452 and by Odoacer in 476, but rose to importance as a military centre in the Gothic period. At Dertona and here the grain stores of Liguria were placed, and Theodoric constructed a palace, baths and amphitheatre and new town walls; while an inscription of Athalaric relating to repairs of seats in the amphitheatre is preserved (A.D. 528‑529). From this point, too, navigation on the Padus seems to have begun. Narses recovered it for the Eastern Empire, but after a long siege, the garrison had to surrender to the Lombards in 572. The name Papia, from which the modern name Pavia comes, does not appear until Lombard times, when it became the seat of the Lombard kingdom, and as such one of the leading cities of Italy. Cornelius Nepos, the biographer, appears to have been a native of Ticinum. Of Roman remains little is preserved; there is, for example, no sufficient proof that the cathedral rests upon an ancient temple of Cybele though the regular ground plan of the central portion, a square of some 1150 yards, betrays its Roman origin, and it may have sprung from a military camp. This is not unnatural, for Pavia was never totally destroyed; even the fire of 1004 can only have damaged parts of the city, and the plan of Pavia remained as it was. Its gates were possibly preserved until early in the 8th century. The picturesque covered bridge which joins Pavia to the suburb on the right bank of the river was preceded by a Roman bridge, of which only one pillar, in blocks of granite from the Baveno quarries, exists under the central arch of the medieval bridge, the rest having no doubt served as material for the latter. The medieval bridge dates from 1351‑1354.

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Page updated: 2 Sep 17