Discover the area crossed by the western route of the via Flaminia, which headed towards Massa Martana and the settlements at the foot of the Monti Martani. Located in a border area, it facilitated the fusion of cultural and religious traditions.
The Monti Martani are an authentic treasure trove of history that holds unexpected gems, along a route which brings together charming hamlets, medieval "feudi" (fiefs) and enchanting abbeys.
The journey begins from Castel Ritaldi, a village located along the route that goes from Spoleto to Montefalco. The historic centre is surrounded by the defensive walls of the 13th century castle. The church of Santa Marina, built between the 14th and 15th centuries is worth a visit. As soon as you leave the village, head towards Colle del Marchese, on the way you'll find the Pieve di San Gregorio in Nido, surrounded by olive groves. This is a Romanesque building constructed around 1141, with splendid bas-relief decorations on the façade and on the portal.
At the first junction, head towards the hamlet of Morcicchia and continue towards Giano dell'Umbria. Like all of the villages in the area, a visit to Giano is a pleasant walk steeped in history, amongst its circular walls, medieval streets, the beautiful palazzo del municipio (town hall) and the 14th-century church of S. Michele. Before heading up towards the mountain, a short deviation will lead you to the Abbazia di San Felice, built in around 1130, a treasure hidden amongst the olive trees which at the time of the emperor Constantine the Great, held the bones of the martyr San Felice. If you're ready to face a climb towards the mountains, follow the signs for Monte Martano. From there you can continue on foot along the Martani hiking trail, which continues as far as the edge of Lo Scoppio, an important stop off point along the trail where there is also an excursion centre, open by appointment. Once back in the car, head back down towards Massa Martana, stopping at the Chiesa dell'Assunzione, to enjoy the breath-taking view over the surrounding valley.
All of the area surrounding Massa Martana (the Roman Vicus ad Martis ) is an ideal place to try two of the highlights of local cuisine, olive oil and wine. The wines are of such high quality as to have obtained the DOC "Colli Martani" appellation as well as the IGT "Umbria" and "Colli Martani" appellation, whilst the extra virgin olive oil has the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) "Colli Martani" appellation.
Once you get to Massa Martana, you are following the course of the ancient via Flaminia. Along this ancient stretch of road is the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Pantano, one of the oldest in Umbria and further on, the Catacomba Cristiana (Christian Catacomb), which up to now is the only one of its kind to have been discovered in the region and which can be visited by appointment. Not far from here you will also find the Abbazia dei Santi Fidenzio e Terenzio, the Abbazia di Villa San Faustino and the Abbazia di San Pietro sopra le Acque. The journey ends in Acquasparta, an ancient roman spa town, home to the first branch of the Accademia dei Lincei, established by Duke Federico Cesi in the big Renaissance palazzo, which still bears his name.