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mail: Bill Thayer 
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Lame di Umbertide:

The Polygonal Building


[image ALT: missingALT. It is a view of the south side of the polygonal building at Lame near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

The building's only entrance, on the west side.


[image ALT: missingALT. It is a view of the west side of the polygonal building at Lame near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

[image ALT: missingALT. It is a view, from the SW, of the polygonal building at Lame near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

Whatever its exact age and purpose, it's old. In this photograph, we see masonry of at least three periods. The larger nicely squared blocks on either side of the door are clearly Roman; the smaller less regular stones are almost certainly medieval; and of course the brick and tile near the roof, and the roof itself, are modern.


[image ALT: missingALT. It is a view of the N side of the polygonal building at Lame near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

[image ALT: missingALT. It is a detail of the masonry of the polygonal building at Lame near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

As noted, some of the stone surrounding the door is clearly Roman. Less certainly, it appears to have been cut purposely for this building: not adventitiously moved and reused here.

(The pen is exactly 14 cm long.)

Note on the Placename

The name of the place where this building stands is variously given as Lame, le Lame, and Lama.

When I was living in Umbertide — just a kilometer away — my fellow Umbertidesi, those I spoke with at any rate, referred to it as Lama, as does at least one item of published literature (F. Toti, Pagine Altotiberine, III.8 (1999), pp39‑52). When I walked over there — diary, April 11, 2004 — and asked the man who lived in the house next to it, seen in the background of a couple of the photos above, whether this was Lama, he instantly corrected me: Lame. Since he'd lived there for at least sixty years, having taken refuge in the building during British bombing raids in World War II, and GoogleMaps backs him up (not the ironclad testimony one would like, mind you, since they do get a few things wrong), on this site I'll call the place Lame: this seems to be the more proper form of the name.

That said, "proper" and what people actually say are two different things, and the latter is the more important: what we say eventually becomes correct, whether by false etymology, hypercorrection (see for example another Umbrian placename, Pigge di Trevi), or here, as I believe, attraction by another similarly named place — in this case Lama, a frazione of Città di Castello, a largish village with which many Umbertidesi would be familiar, about 20 km NNW of here. A hundred years from now, the official street name, the phone directory, and just possibly this webpage will be among the factors to determine what the "proper" placename will be.


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Site updated: 31 Jan 21