Locations high on a militarily strategic hilltop are at the origin of most Roman settlements, but it was also the cause of bitter wars between Todi, Orvieto and Amelia.
In the 12th century, it became the feudal holding of the Alviano family, whose power reached its peak with Bartolomeo d'Alviano, a noble condottiero credited with the reconstruction and expansion, in 1495, of the ancient fortified castle, which then became a fort- cum-residence. When the Alviano family was finally left without heirs in 1654, the Rocca was purchased by Donna Olimpia Pamphili Maidalchini, the sister-in-law of Pope Innocent X. In 1920, the descendants of the Doria Pamphili family donated the castle to the town.
ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT
The town's main landmark is the fortress, the Rocca di Alviano: built in 1495 on the extant Castle, it has a square floor plan with corner towers. Inside there is a lovely Renaissance court yard with a double loggia on which the Rondini Chapel looks out. The Chapel has frescoes dating to the 1600s that depict the life of Saint Francis. The Rocca is home to the town's administration and the Museums of the Castle of Alviano. They include the Historical and Multimedia Museum of Bartolomeo d'Alviano and Umbrian Captains of Fortune – the Museum of Peasant Civilisation – and the Documentation Centre of the fauna of the Alviano Oasis.
Inside the town is the Parish Church of Santa Maria Assunta (15th century), with a lovely Our Lady of the Assumption surrounded by glorifying angels by Niccolò Alunno.
In Pupigliano are the remains of a rustic villa dating to the first century CE.
The main environmental attraction here is the Nature Oasis, a reserve of some 900 hectares under the protection of the WWF. The trail that goes through it allows visitors to observe the flora and fauna of the area from up close, thanks to special bird watching huts, towers, walkways and even an open-air classroom.