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Otricoli (Terni province)

A town of southern Umbria: 42°25N, 12°28.5E. Altitude: 209 m. Population in 2003: 1800.

[image ALT: A fragmentary ancient Roman inscription, with about 80% of the stone in two pieces. It is a tombstone, reading '. . LLAE PRIMAE VXORI CARISSIMAE BENE MERENTI ET LIBERTIS LIBERTABVS POSTERISQVE EORUM'.]

Roman tombstone in the staircase of the town hall.

For its tiny size Otricoli is an extraordinarily urban sort of place, perched on a hill in the last few southern miles of Umbria, 10 km northwest of Calvi dell' Umbria, and (along the ancient Via Flaminia) 16 km south of Narni and 9 km north of Magliano Sabina across the border in the Lazio. It is essentially built of Roman stone from its Roman predecessor Ocriculum; as the Roman empire decayed into the Dark Ages, it was safer to move the town from the plain of the Tiber to the top of a defensible hill a mile to the north. The spoils of Ocriculum call attention to themselves thruout the town, with as many as a thousand individual stones readily visible, often carved or inscribed, and surely many more inside walls and in basements: Otricoli is thus a sort of open-air museum.

On two separate occasions I had the good fortune of spending half an afternoon in Otricoli; I haven't exhausted the sights by any means. A proper website will be trickling onsite, in addition to my diary entries (Oct. 22, 1997 May 1, 2004), which include several more photos, among them some of Ocriculum; and for fuller information, see the websites in the navigation bar at the foot of this page: Key to Umbria is particularly good.

As first instalments on that formal site:

[image ALT: A square stuccoed single-story building with a 30° gabled roof just large enough for its entrance door and the vertical oeil-de‑boeuf windows flanking it one on each side. It is raised off the street level by three steps and an irregular course of stone, which on closer inspection turn out to be of ancient Roman origin. A wooden cross surmounts the door, and a vine from a neighboring tree has sent one branch to grow across the front of the building. It is an unidentified old chapel in Otricoli, Umbria (central Italy).]

The churches of Otricoli are represented onsite by all those I've seen. One is loaded with Roman history, the second commemorates a man who worked here in the 16c, living a saintly life; and the third is a beautiful little chapel about which I have absolutely no information at all.

[ 4/4/08: 3 churches, 5 pages, 24 photos ]

The brief entry Ocriculum in the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica is about the Roman town; I have used it for the time being as a canvas for considerable additional information and several nice photographs of the place.


Most of the comuni in Umbria include in their territories 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. In the case of Otricoli, there is just one frazione, and I haven't been there. Any link is therefore offsite:


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Page updated: 13 Jun 20