During an action-packed weekend on our recent visit to the Terni region of Umbria – courtesy of GAL Ternano – Tom Weber, The Palladian Traveler, and I were given a brief introduction to the town of Amelia.
Just half an hour’s drive from the famous Marmore Falls, Terni, and with a population of about 11,000, Amelia is one of the oldest towns in Umbria. Sitting high on a hill in the south western corner of the province it overlooks the valleys of both the River Tiber and the River Nera.
Arriving just outside these remarkable walls I was immediately struck by the cyclopean masonry. Cyclopean stonework is comprised of large irregularly-shaped rocks fitted tightly together without the use of mortar. These fantastic walls are broken by four gates and are approximately 700 metres long and 3.5 metres thick.
The Romans also constructed underground cisterns to collect water for the Roman baths.
We entered the pretty medieval town via Porta Romana.
As we strolled uphill along the narrow street, we paused to marvel at the preserved Roman road which was visible beneath us. Progressing upward we could see the Duomo and Torre Civica sitting on the skyline ahead.
A visit to the archaeology museum revealed a bronze statue of Germanicus, aka Nero Claudius Drusus, unearthed just outside the walls of Amelia in 1963.
More than two metres tall, this statue of the young Roman hero was restored and put on display in the archaeological museum, which is located in Palazzo Bocarini.
For me, personally, the highlight of our stroll through Amelia was our visit to the theatre. Built in 1783, it was designed by the architect, Conte Stefano Cansacchi. Its elliptical interior, which is made completely from wood, apparently influenced the design of famous La Fenice in Venice (1790). The stalls are arranged on the sloping floor, while boxes fill the walls.