Campello sul clitunno

Sources of Clitunno

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Tourist information and welcome office
Piazza della Libertà 7 - 06049 Spoleto

The Clitunno river’s source creates a lake with very clear and emerald green waters. It’s a water garden source of inspiration for poets such as: Propertius, Pliny, Virgilio, Byron and Carducci.

They are made of groundwater coming out of rock’s cracks through several water springs that can be found, in some sections, at the bottom of the lake.

The water’s mirror, with intense and changing colours, is rich in rare vegetal species (phanerogams, horsetail, moss, aquatic nasturtium…) that create a luxuriant appearance of rare beauty. Its shores are surrounded by a thick vegetation, particularly weeping willows and poplars.


Thanks to their rare beauty they have been source of inspiration, since antique times, for painters, poets and writers.

Virgilio narrated the legend of oxen that, by getting immersed in the river’s waters, would have become even more pure. Pliny the Younger wrote an epistle by recalling the sacredness of the river, its navigability, its division between a bathing (the ‘Sources’) and a non-bathing part. Indeed, the area was rich in villas and spas along the water course as well as of sacred castles. The emperor Caligola was also a regular visitor of the “Sacred Clitumnalia”, namely the spring festivals in honour of the god Clitunno, who was believed to inhabit the deep waters.  

This enchanted place has also been admired in recent times, for example by Corot, George Byron and Carducci, the latter who dedicated to them a famous poem “Ode to the Clitumno’s Sources”. A marble stone, graven to bas-relief, and an epigraph by Ugo Ojetti remind his visit occurred in 1910.

Sources, as stated by Pliny himself, were so copious to create a big navigable river until Rome, continuing into the Tiber. In 440 AD a terrible earthquake radically changed the area by scattering most of its veins. However, nowadays, Clitunno is still one among the largest sources of Umbria, with 1300 – 1500 litres per second. The present arrangement is due to the work of the Count Paolo Campello della Spina who between 1860 and 1865 created the pond and planted poplars and willows around that. The fauna, beyond the fishing one, is mainly made up of the distinctive swans beyond some species of aquatic birds.