The Retirees return to Italy – Terni and its origins

This morning before I awoke and we decided we would visit  Piediluco on the Lake via Terni on the way. Its like that here. You wake the weather is fine nothing to do so……

We caught the bus and in true Italian tradition the bus driver drove like a bat out of hell down the hill into Terni. Note the faces of the excited passengers in the picture below. While waiting for the bus we could see from our vantage point overlooking the Terni valley, one of the local marble quarries and the nearby village of St Gemini which we decided we would visit shortly.

Twenty minutes later once the blood had returned to our knuckles, we left the bus and walked 50 metres to the main Piazza Tacito. It is largely paved for pedestrians but as usual you have to watch out for the cyclists and motor bikes. The hills surround the city and can be seen on all sides as you stroll down the mall. It is only the fact that many of the buildings appear of the modern era that remind you that on August 11, 1943, a massive allied bombardment devastated the city. It was the first of the 108 air strikes that destroyed 80% of Terni’s buildings. Despite this, Terni’s industrial environment increased quickly after the war. Some of the ancient city remains and some of those buildings have had a second life like the former church in the photo below.

Terni is a city in the southern portion of the Region of Umbria in central Italy. The city is the capital of the province of Terni, located in the plain of the Nera river. It is 104 kilometres (65 miles) northeast of Rome. It was founded as an Ancient Roman town.

During the 19th century, steel mills were introduced and led the city to have a role in the second industrial revolution in Italy. Because of its industrial importance, the city was heavily bombed during World War II by the Allies. It still remains an industrial hub, and has been nicknamed “The Steel City” and the “Italian Manchester”.

Terni also advertises itself as a “City of Lovers”, as its patron saint, Saint Valentine, was born and became a bishop here and his remains are preserved in the basilica. The city was founded around the 7th century BC by the Umbrians, in a territory inhabited (as testified by archaeological excavations of several necropolises) as early as the Bronze Age. In the 3rd century BC it was conquered by the Romans and soon became an important municipium lying on the Via Flaminia. The Roman name was Interamna, meaning “in between two rivers”. During the Roman Empire the city was enriched with several buildings, including aqueducts, walls, an amphitheater, a theater, temples and bridges.

After the Lombard conquest in 755 Terni lost prominence when it was reduced to a secondary town in the Duchy of Spoleto. In 1174 it was sacked by Frederick Barbarossa’s general, Archbishop Christian of Mainz. In the following century Terni was one of sites visited frequently by St. Francis to give sermons.

In the 14th century Terni issued its own constitution, and from 1353 the walls were enlarged, and new channels were opened. As with many of the Italian communes of the Late Middle Ages, it was beset by civil unrest between the partisans of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, and later between the Nobili and Banderari. Later it joined the Papal States. In 1580 an ironworks, the Ferriera, was introduced to work the iron ore mined in Monteleone di Spoleto, starting the traditional industrial connotation of the city. In the 17th century, however, the population of Terni declined further due to plagues and famines.

In the 19th century, Terni took advantage of the Industrial Revolution and of plentiful water sources in the area. New industries included a steelworks, a foundry, as well as weapons manufacture, jute and wool processing factories. In 1927 Terni became capital of the province. The presence of important industries made it a target for the Allied bombardments in World War II.


Published by


Retired Australian Lawyer having worked representing the innocent and the not so innocent in Australia and some of the remote parts of the world and having travelled widely through Europe, Western Russia, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Thailand Malaysia Solomon Islands northern China, Hong Kong and the UAE So now that I have the time I am writing about my travels present and past. Hope you enjoy exploring off the beaten track.