Amelia

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AMELIA

is a town in Umbria, the central region of Italy.
The town is located in the south of Umbria, approximately 90 kilometres from Perugia, about 100 kilometres from Rome and 200 kilometres from Florence. Amelia can be reached easily: travelling by car along the A1 turnpike, exit Orte. The closest railway stations are those of Narni-Amelia and Orte from wich the town can be reached by regular bus service or taxi.

TERRITORY

The town's environs are remarkable for the variety of their shades of green: olive orchards, vineyards, and crops regularly cultivated by farmers interweave with woods of oaks and holm oaks. Ancient farmsteads are dotted around the countryside, showing a respectful balance between nature and human intervention.
Many excursions are available in the territory of Amelia: hiking or trekking paths, mountain bike itineraries, and horse-riding trails. Among them we may mention: the Trail of Macchie, along which an ecological walk is held yearly; the ring trail of Collicello, departing from the square of the hamlet and running across the woods around the village; the trail of Palliccio a Porchiano, a ring itinerary run. Other activity parks are immersed in the evergreen holly-oak woods: "La Cavallerizza" in Amelia, "San Silvestro" Park in Fornole, and "Parco Mattia" in Porchiano del Monte.

HISTORY

The mythical foundation of Amelia is attributed to Ameroe, the mythological king from whom the name Ameria would later derive. In fact, the foundation of Amelia is dated twelve centuries B.C.. Although it is a legend, it is generally held to be true that the first inhabitants moved to the hill and established the first settlement around the 11th- 10th century B.C..
The current urban structure was outlined between the 8th and 3th century B.C. when its polygonal walls were built. The town was then declared a Municipium Romanum in the Lex Julia (90 B.C.). During Imperial times, Amelia was a flourishing commercial centre: it had an ideal defensive position and also a river port built at the nearby town of Orte, which ensured a trade connection with Rome.
The so-called Via Amerina (or Vejetana) had great importance through centuries, and during the Middle Ages it was the only road linking Rome with the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna (it was also called the Byzantine Corridor).

MAIN MONUMENTS

Polygonal Walls
The Polygonal walls are evident proof of the ancient origins of Amelia. It is supposed that they had already been erected by the 8th - 7th century B.C. in order to protect the urban settlement. The walls are unique in Italy for size and extension, and they are made mainly of rhomboid stone blocks assembled with incredible skill, without using any mortar.

Germanico
It is a bronze statue of Germanicus, the Roman military leader, son of Drusus the Elder. The statue was discovered during maintenance work executed right outside the city walls. The statue is a real masterpiece in bronze artwork of the Imperial Roman age, the only one of such proportions still existing. It is extraordinary for its dimensions (it is 2.14m, over 7 ft tall) and for the skill of the craftsmen who forged it.

Roman Cisterns
The Roman Cistern, are an extraordinary example of hydraulic Roman engineering: there are ten large adjacent rooms which create a complex system for collecting and purifying rain water for public use. They were used as a water supply for the upper part of the old town until the 1960s.

Cathedral of Santa Firmina
The Cathedral is an imposing religious building dating back to the 9th century and then enlarged in the 17th century. It contains several paintings by notable artists such as Taddeo Zuccari, Pomarancio, and Gian Francesco Perini.

Social Theatre
It was built in the second half of the 18th century and it is a real jewel. It is horseshoe shaped and has three levels of box seats and an orchestra section. All its architectural structures are original.

Civic Tower
The twelve-sided civic tower is nearly 100 feet high and it represents the symbol of Municipal independence.

Petrignani Palace
It is a 16th century palace, decorated by painters as Ganassini and Racani. Its most notable part is the Zodiac Room where the rich ceiling fresco represents the encounter between Attila and Pope Leo IV, the allegories of the four seasons, the signs of the Zodiac, and the maps of some important cities.

Farrattini Palace
It is a smaller-scale version of the Farnese Palace in Rome. It was built between 1520 and 1525 on order of Bartolomeo Farrattini following a design by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.

Venturelli Palace
It was built using Roman structures as a foundation. The floors of the Roman domus have a beautiful mosaic floor decorated with black and white tiles forming geometric and floral decorations.

FESTIVALS
Palio dei Colombi
It is the main festival of Amelia and it stretches over two weeks in late July and early August. The central event of this palio is a contest during which riders on horseback representing the five medieval districs (contrade) of the town compete against one another in a game of quintain. The tournament is based on a competition described in the Town Statutes of 1346. Apart from the Palio, the Festival covers more than two weeks of performances, costumed plays and shows set in picturesque corners of the old town, taverns with menus based on traditional local cusine, parades, contests of medieval music, especially with drummers.
Maggio Organistico Amerino
It is an international pipe-organ festival held in May, with famous musicians coming from all over the world.

Amelia DOC
It is a wine event promoted by a group of Enologists to promote local wineries and their excellent productions with wine-tastings, conferences, events and themed activities in the month of June.

Ferragosto Amerino
It is a traditional week of events organized by the Proloco, a local assosiation promoting the town. It is about one week of music and dancing performances. On the night before Ferragosto, i.e. the 14th August, there is a special night called Nessun Dorma with events, music performances and shows, bars, shops and restaurants open until the sunrise.

TRADITIONAL CUSINE

Traditional cuisine is based on simple recipes which enhance the taste of local products. There are delicious dishes as fettuccine, polenta (grits, or cornmeal mush), manfricoli (or ciriole) handmade fresh pasta kneaded with just flour and water .
The wines produced in this area have all the requirements to meet the most demanding tastes. Amelia and its territory are part of the Etruscan-Roman Wine Route that aims at raising awareness and appreciation of the quality of the production of the local wine cellars. Through an itinerary in the best wineries of the area, you can taste the Amelia DOC wines from traditional white, red and rosé to the precious and delicate Malvasia and Novello.
Moreover, in this area local extra-virgin olive oil reaches top-quality and is the basic ingredient and dressing for any recipe. Oil mills constantly work from November through February: most of them are open to the public for visits during which it is possible to taste the flavour of freshly pressed oil on crunchy slices of bruschetta scented with garlic.
A typical recipe of Amelia territory are Fichi Girotti: dried figs stuffed with a compote made of almonds, candied fruit or walnuts and cocoa powder.
Another typical local product is the Fava cottora of Collicello (Amelia) that recently entered the project of
Slow Food "Terre dell'Umbria Meridionale" for the establishment of new Umbrian supervision in order to
safeguard the survival and spread of Umbrian cuisine.

EATING IN AMELIA
Appetizers: chicken liver crostini, bruschetta, ham and salami
First course: Fettuccine with tomato sauce (in which the chicken livers were thoroughly cooked)
Second course: Roast pigeon and roast chicken, baked potato and wild chicory salad or rampions
Fruit: apple
Dessert: pie or pudding 'zuppa inglese' (Savoyard biscuits dipped in red rum and topped with good cream)

A TYPICAL RECIPE

Wood-pigeon cooked "alla leccarda":
The bird is broiled slowly and a bowl (called "leccarda") is used to collect the drippings, which are then enriched with olive oil, salt, vinegar, sage and minced olives, and used to dress the bird served on a thick slice of toasted bread.