Tuoro sul Trasimeno

The Battle of Trasimeno

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Piazza Mazzini 10 - 06061 Castiglione del Lago
The First Punic War had ended in 241 BC with the defeat of the Carthaginians to the Egadi islands.

The Romans could well impose a vaster domain on the Tyrrhenian Sea, forcing their fierce rivals to abandon Sicily and the surrounding islands. The outcome of the war brought particular economic consequences over Carthage. In fact, the obligation to pay an annual tribute to Rome was made more and more onerous by the lack of the old revenue from lost provinces and the stagnation of business activities. The ancient Phoenician city, however, didn’t give up and, under the leadership of Hamilcar and Hasdrubal, prepared with care their recovery’s steps. The Romans, at first did not hinder the expansion of the Carthaginians in Spain, planning to control it easily and preferring to focus on the danger that came from the Gallic and Germanic hordes of the north; but later they broke through by signing an alliance with the Spanish town of Sagunto, that will be the excuse to unleash a new war. The young son of Hamilcar, Hannibal, started the hostilities besieging and destroying Sagunto. The unacceptable demands of the Roman ambassadors, who demanded the Hannibal’s delivering and all those responsible for the destruction, made it official in fact the beginning of the second Punic war: it was the year 219 BC The scenery Various scholars, referring to the main sources represented by Polybius and Livy, have tried reconstructing very clearly the map of the battle sites. The most likely hypothesis focuses on the incident within the natural amphitheater formed by yhe heights of Gualandro Mount and Montigeto Mount,along the northern shore of Trasimeno Lake. Not so long ago seemed to prevail the hypothesis that at the time of the battle the lake had a greater extension; currently the opposite theory has been reassessed according to which the size of the lake would be similar to the current ones. In any case, certainly the crucial phases of the battle took place in the valley of Tuoro. After the defeats suffered by the Romans in 218 BC., near Ticino and Trebbia rivers, the defeat of the Trasimeno created great alarm because it seemed to contribute to Hannibal’s conquest of Rome. The battle On the morning of June 24, 217 BC, according to the calendar unreformed (corresponding to April of the Julian), Flaminio consul ordered his legions to move on in pursuit of the Carthaginians who had penetrated the previous day in the northern Lake Trasimeno valley. Hannibal organized his men on the slopes of the hills and preparing the ambush. The Romans marched down the narrow valley where hung a thick blanket of fog. Suddenly Hannibal gave the signal for the general assault. The cavalry and infantry of the Carthaginians climbed down from the surrounding hills, with a huge impact force, attacking the two legions in the direction of the lake. The Romans did not have the time to arrange themselves in their familiar battle array, and were forced to fight not in particular order and without possibility of escape. It was a terrible massacre: 15.000 Roman soldiers were killed and also the consul Flaminio lost his life in the battle. The news of the appalling defeat brought chaos to Rome, spreading in the population a strong feeling of despair and distrust. In Urbe began a crisis which led to the appointment of a dictator, Quintus Fabius Maximus, which was entrusted with the command of the army. The wars with Hannibal, which would have lasted for another fifteen years, had also serious consequences in the social and economic fields. The continuing devastation of the countryside pushed many farmers to run away from the camps and to take refuge in the cities; furthermore many small landowners, enrolled in the Roman army, were forced to return from wars, to resell their land to pay off debts. Whereas the average agricultural class was gradually narrowed, the concentration of land ownership in a few hands gave birth to large estates. Thus a large agrarian crisis began in southern Italy. A crisis that continues nowadays. The final victory against the Carthaginians, pushed the Romans to start an imperialist and expansionist policy that then produced, in the second half of the second century BC, a huge expansion of their territory, creating the foundation for the birth of the Empire. The Places of Battle You can visit the municipal area, in the beautiful countryside of Tuoro, the "historical and archaeological Route of the Battle of Trasimeno". It was built in the 80s of the twentieth century following the approach outlined by Giancarlo Susini’s studies through the camps which were the epic scene battle between the Romans and Carthaginians. There are currently 9 parking areas in which various issues are covered in particular those related to the Battle and the history of the places. Very interesting especially the station No. 1 and No. 6. From the first one you can have a wide panoramic view of the battle’s valley through a close position respecting the chokepoint of Malpasso, along which the column of the legions entered in the plain where they found the death. The second one, is located on the top of Sanguineto valley, overlooking the theater of the clash according to the reconstruction of Giancarlo Susini. Work is under way to complete and enrich this open-air museum to be increasingly able to offer to Italian and foreign visitors with comprehensible and complete informations. The route will be supplemented with a location in the valley of Vernazzano that is able to cover also the traditional reconstruction well represented by the Nissen study.

INTRODUCTION TO BATTLE After the victory at the Trebbia, Hannibal went on his way to the south, by convincing the consuls and the Roman Senate that its purpose was to march on Rome. In Val di Chiana he came around and pass Flaminio’army, which waited for him to blockade, and made Flaminio to follow him plundered every land he met. Thanks to the precise information of its explorers, Hannibal decided to draw Flaminio in the northern shores of Trasimeno Lake, an area that was particularly suited to an ambush. So he went through the narrow road called Malpasso , out of sight the enemy army, and placed his camp on the hill where nowadays is located Tuoro.

ROMAN ARMY The Roman army, made up of 25,000 men, overcame Malpasso in running order, or lined up, and went into the plain at the foot of the Tuoro hills. Caio Flaminio decided to set out into this valley without providing reconnaissance, probably because he was convinced that the troops of Hannibal were more than a day's walk.

ARMY Carthaginian The army of Hannibal had an extremely heterogeneous composition. De-parting was formed by African warriors (Numidians, Libyans, Moreschi, etc.) and Iberian (Balearic, Guaschi, Slingers of Asturias, etc.). Dur-ing his victorious march, the Celts added themselves and the northern Italy rebellious populations, in particular the Ligurians and the In-subri. When he arrived closer to the Trasimeno lake, the Carthaginian army was reduced. It counted about 40,000 men, due to the epidemic broke out after crossing the marshy areas, and had lost all the ele-phants.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL REFERENCES There are numerous archaeological finds in the area especially during the nineteenth century, many of them linked back to the Republican or the first empire period: weapons, horse harnesses, buckles, coins, etc. To mention are the findings of the Etruscan-Roman statue dell'Ar-ringatore Trasimeno (late II, early first century BC) and the bronze statue called "Graziani putto", a copy of which can be seen at the City Council Hall of Tuoro.

THE CONSOLE CAIO FLAMINIO Historians judge the consul Caio Flaminio more skillful on the politi-cal side than the military one. The most severe critics describe him as impulsive and reckless. In any case, it should be remembered that in the general confusion of the battle he managed to remain calm, trying to reorganize his men, since when the insubro Ducario pierced him with his spear. His body was never found.

THE BATTLE At dawn on June 24, 217 BC, under a thick blanket of fog, most of the Roman army was already deployed in the plain. Hannibal had placed the light cavalry and the Celts at the entrance of the valley, to block any retreat, the Libyans and Iberians around his camp, the Balearics and the hastati to close up on the slopes of the hillside of Tuoro which, according to Susini , was in close contact with the shore of the lake ( according to Nissen the closing of the trap occurred further east, be-tween the slopes of the hill and Montigeto lake). When most of the le-gions had entered the valley, Hannibal gave the order to simultaneously attack : the battle lasted three hours and 15,000 Roman soldiers were killed, some of whom had sought refuge in the lake.

THE USTRINI The pits of a truncated conical section carved into limestone and found in the Tuoro area could be, according to some scholars, burial systems, called "ustrina", constructed by Hannibal to incinerate many corpses after the battle that could cause outbreaks. Other authors believe that this is ancient kilns for lime manufacturing.

THE STATUE of ARRINGATORE It is a bronze statue representing an Etruscan prince, dressed in the typical toga praetexta of Magistrates and Senators, haranguing a crowd. The statue, which was found in an area just south of Sanguineto, was transported in Pila di Perugia where, later, was sent to the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo. Today it is housed in the Archaeological Museum of Florence.

COLUMN ROMANA The Roman column was donated by the mayor of Rome to Tuoro (Trasimeno) on the occasion of the Conference of Hannibal studies in 1961 during which the theory of Prof. Susini was presented. It was installed in the fall of 1965 on the site where it was believed they reached the lake water at the time of the battle, that is, in what is called "Via del Porto". Recent investigations have shown that the old "port of the housing plan", which the above-mentioned road brought to, was used from the late Middle Ages when the lake reached very high average lev-els that it held until the end of 800.

THE ANCIENT COAST LINE According to studies by Prof. Giancarlo Susini, in 217 BC Trasimeno Lake had a greater extension than the current one, so the ancient coastline bordered a smaller valley than today. As already mentioned, recent studies place the coastline of the time even further back than that which can be seen today. We can, therefore, assume a battle scene broader, also owing to the enormous forces involved. Characters Hannibal Strategist, bold warrior and maybe a little 'witch doctor. This is Han-nibal handed down by historians: the man of a thousand wiles, able to win even outnumbered thanks to his evil tricks. Its undoubted strategic skills are evident when he decided to reach Italy by land, thinking he could easily lift the peoples subject to Rome. He left in the spring of 218 BC with an army of 50,000 men, 9,000 horses and 37 elephants. In his long journey he crossed the Pyrenees and the Alps, where, for the intense cold, lost a large part of the elephants. He defeated the Ro-mans near the Ticino and Trebbia rivers and reinforced his army with the support of the Gallic tribes, passed on his side. He crossed the Apennines and the swamplands of the Serchio and Arno, in which many of his men were decimated by an epidemic and he himself got seriously ill in one of his eye. He reached in 217 BC the hilly areas to the north of Trasimeno Lake, decided to outperform in the short term the Roman army to increase its prestige and inciting to rebellion the cities of Etruria. That year the consuls Gaius Flaminius Nepos and Gnaeus Servil-ius were in charge of the Roman legions . Caio Flaminio Nepos Member of the People's Party and courageous innovator in policy, the consul Caio Flaminio had several detractors who stressed the lack of military expertise. According to the most severe critics , Flaminio made the mistake of imprudence because he was attracted by Hannibal without resorting to appropriate explorations. This judgment must be corrected to some extent. Indeed Flaminio, waiting to be reunited with the other consul Servilius troops, who moved from Rimini, pursued too long the Carthaginian army keeping a safe distance, not in a hurry to hire the clash. In numerical inferiority and markedly unfavorable posi-tion, he was forced to succumb. It happened because of a military strategy that, for the culture of the Roman era, was unfair and seri-ously conflicting with the supreme value of "fides". The First Punic War had ended in 241 BC with the defeat of the Cartha-ginians to the Egadi islands. The Romans could well impose a vast do-main on the Tyrrhenian Sea, forcing their fierce rivals to abandon Sic-ily and the surrounding islands. The outcome of the war was over Car-thage

THE "DOCUMENTATION CENTRE ON THE ONGOING BATTLE OF TRASIMENO AND HANNI-BAL" From January 1996 the Centre is open to the public, near the house of the park "Il Sodo, located in the center of the town. The Umbria Re-gion, the Perugia Province, the local Pro-Loco collaborate to the many turist cultural initiatives planned. With this realization the Munici-pality of Tuoro tries answering two basic needs: the scientific one and the popular one proceeding for progressive stages in the collection of the entire bibliography, in the presentation of panels and plastic models of the main theories relating to reconstruction, in the materi-al and populare preparation on videotape and cD rOM. The local office of the Centre is a permanent exhibition on the epic Hannibal, which tells by pictures the entire Second Punic War. The Centre is regularly the site of meetings, conferences, debates, presentations of publica-tions and magazines on the subject: it is now the reference point for scholars and enthusiasts. The two main theories about the Battle of Trasimeno, which refer to the Nissen and Susini study, are compared in the Tuoro Documentation Centre. It happens thanks to two large plastic photographing the moment Carthaginian attack at dawn on June 24 217 BC. The related environmental reconstructions, the troops and equipment were made with hundreds of lead models. The two versions differ mainly in the geographical-historical background: the extension of Lake Trasimeno.