Via Flaminia

The Via Flaminia was a Roman road leading from Rome over the Apennine Mountains to Ariminum (Rimini) on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, and due to the ruggedness of the mountains was the major option the Romans had for travel between Etruria, Latium and Campania and the Po Valley. Today the same route, still called by the same name for much of its distance, is paralleled or overlain by Strada Statale (SS) 3, also called Strada Regionale (SR) 3 in Lazio and Umbria, and Strada Provincale (SP) 3 in Marche. It leaves Rome, does up the Val Tevere ("Valley of the Tiber River"), strikes into the mountains at Castello delle Formische, ascends to Gualdo Tadino, goes over the divide at Scheggia Pass, 575 m (1,886 ft), to Cagli. From there it descends the eastern slope waterways between the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and the Umbrian Apennines to Fano on the coast and goes north parallel to Highway A1 to Rimini.

This route, convenient to ancients, is far from it to heavy modern traffic between north Italy and the capital. It remains a country road, while the traffic crosses by railway and autostrada through dozens of tunnels between Firenze and Bologna, a shorter, more direct route under the ridges and nearly inaccessible passes.


It was constructed by Gaius Flaminius during his censorship (220 BC). Sources mention frequent improvements being made to it during the imperial period. Augustus, when he instituted a general restoration of the roads of Italy, which he assigned for the purpose among various senators, reserved the Flaminia for himself, and rebuilt all the bridges except the Pons Mulvius, by which it crosses the Tiber, 3 km (2 mi) north of Rome (built by Marcus Aemilius Scaurus in 109 BC), and an unknown Pons Minucius. Triumphal arches were erected in his honour on the former bridge and at Ariminum, the latter of which is still preserved. Vespasian constructed a new tunnel through the pass of Intercisa (Furlo), in 77, and Trajan, as inscriptions show, repaired several bridges along the road.

In the Middle Ages it was known as the Ravenna road, as it led to the then more important city of Ravenna. Following the end of the Exarchate of Ravenna, it fell into disuse during the Lombard period, but was partially reconstructed in the Renaissance era and continued to be of military importance down to the Napoleonic era and World War II. As the SS 3 (Strada Statale 3) it remains one of the principal highways from Rome to the Adriatic.

The importance of the ancient Via Flaminia is twofold: during the period of Roman expansion in the 3rd century BC and 2nd century BC, the Flaminia became, with the cheaper sea route, a main axis of transportation by which wheat from the Po valley supplied Rome and central Italy; during the period of Roman decline, the Flaminia was the main road leading into the heartland of Italy: it was taken by Julius Caesar at the beginning of the civil war, but also by various barbarian hordes, Byzantine generals, etc. A number of major battles were therefore fought on or near the Via Flaminia, for example at Sentinum (near the modern Sassoferrato) and near Tadinum (the modern Gualdo Tadino). In the early Middle Ages, the road, controlled by the Eastern Empire, was a civilizing influence, and accounted for much of what historians call the "Byzantine corridor".

Ancient route

The Via Flaminia starts at Porta del Popolo in the Aurelian Walls of Rome: Via del Corso (Via Lata), which connects the Campidoglio to the gate, can be considered the urban stretch of the Via Flaminia. The road then runs due north, considerable remains of its pavement being extant under the modern road, passing slightly east of the site of the Etruscan Falerii (Civita Castellana), crossing the Tiber into Umbria over a bridge some slight vestiges of which can still be seen, the "Pile d' Augusto". From there it made its way to Ocriculum (Otricoli) and Narnia (Narni), where it crossed the Nera River by the largest Roman bridge ever built, a splendid four-arched structure to which Martial alludes[1], one arch of which and all the piers are still standing; and went on, followed at first by the modern road to Casuentum (San Gemini) which passes over two finely preserved ancient bridges, through Carsulae to Mevania (Bevagna), and thence to Forum Flaminii (S. Giovanni Profiamma). Later, a more circuitous route from Narnia to Forum Flaminii was adopted, increasing the distance by 12 Roman miles (18 km) and passing by Interamna Nahars (Terni), Spoletium (Spoleto) and Fulginium (Foligno) — from which a branch diverged to Perusia (Perugia).

From Forum Flaminii the Flaminia went on to Nuceria Camellaria (Nocera Umbra) — whence a branch road ran to Septempeda and thence either to Ancona or to Tolentinum (Tolentino) and Urbs Salvia (Urbisaglia) — and Helvillum (site uncertain, probably Sigillo, but maybe Fossato di Vico), to cross the main ridge of the Apennines, a temple of Jupiter Apenninus standing at or near the summit of the pass according to one ancient author. From there it descended to Cales (Cagli), where it turned north-east following the gorges of the Burano River.

The narrowest pass was crossed by means of a tunnel chiseled out of solid rock: a first tunnel apparently of the 3rd century BC was replaced by an adjacent tunnel by Vespasian. This is the modern Gola del Furlo, the ancient name of which, Intercisa, means "cut through" with reference to these tunnels. The modern 2‑lane road, the SS 3 Flaminia, still uses Vespasian's tunnel, the emperor's dedicatory inscription still in place; remnants of the earlier tunnel can also be seen.

The Flaminia emerged from the gorges of the Apennines at Forum Sempronii (Fossombrone) and reached the coast of the Adriatic at Fanum Fortunae (Fano). Thence, it ran north-west through Pisaurum (Pesaro) to Ariminum (Rimini). The total distance from Rome was 210 Roman miles (311 km) by the older road and 222 (329 km) by the newer. The road gave its name to a juridical district of Italy from the second century onwards, the former territory of the Senones, which was at first associated with Umbria (with which indeed under Augustus it had formed the sixth region of Italy called Umbria et Ager Gallicus), but which after Constantine was always administered with Picenum.


Extant remains of the road consist of rare patches of pavement (by far the largest is an intermittent stretch about 800 meters long at Rignano Flaminio in the northern Lazio), but for the most part of bridges, listed here in order from Rome:

* From Rome to Narni:
o the Milvian Bridge (now Ponte Molle)
o the Pile di Augusto
o Ponte Sanguinaro S of Narni
o the great bridge at Narni

* Along the western branch:
o Ponte Caldaro, damaged in World War II
o Ponte Calamone both before Sangemini
o Ponte Fonnaia near Acquasparta
o a bridge just outside Acquasparta, on which was built the church of S. Giovanni de Butris
o Ponte del Diavolo at Cavallara near Bastardo

* Along the eastern branch:
o Ponte Sanguinaro in Spoleto
o scant remains of a bridge at Pontebari

* After the branches rejoin at S. Giovanni Profiamma:
o bridge-like structure at Pieve Fanonica
o Le Spugne near Nocera Umbra
o three bridges in the comune of Fossato di Vico (one of which, however, belongs properly to a branch road off the main trunk of the Flaminia)
o Ponte Spiano in Costacciaro
o an imposing bridge at Villa Scirca, blown up in World War II
o five bridges in the comune of Cantiano, near Pontedazzo and Pontericcioli
o Ponte Mallio (or Manlio) at Cagli, which appears to be partly of pre-Roman (Umbrian) construction

Other notable Roman vestiges along the road, aside from those within the individual towns, include a pair of tower tombs between Bevagna and Foligno; and along the eastern branch of the Flaminia in particular, in the area between Spoleto and Trevi, many small Romanesque churches, partly built of reused Roman stone (spolia) — including a few inscriptions — mark the straight line of the road quite clearly. A small stretch of the road remains in the ruins of Carsulae where it passes through the impressive Arco di Traiano.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Via Flaminia

(I found this great introduction to the northern part of the Via Flaminia on the Turismo Provincia di Pesaro e Urbino website:)

The historical via Flaminia, opened by Caius Flaminius in 202 BC, is quite unique today, especially along the section running through the Province of Pesaro and Urbino. This is due to the number of bridges, cuttings and embankments, tunnels, stretches of pavement, support structures, drainage systems, roadside cippi (or pillars) and inscriptions which still exist along the way. These constitute a series of archaeological remains of exceptional importance which document several centuries of construction work along the road.

Just over the border from Umbria, at Pontericcioli (south of Cantiano), a large number of Roman constructions appear along the original stretch of road (which followed a different course to that of the present road). These include a fine support structure in grey stone and, a little further ahead, a bridge known as Ponte Grosso, built with two arches divided by a small water divider.

Another bridge, also known as Ponte Grosso, at Cantiano, takes the Flaminian Way across the River Burano. The two arches, each seven metres (23 Roman feet) wide, join at a central pier (5.6 m wide) with water divider. It is built to the same design as the original bridge, which dated back to the Augustan period and was constructed using cornelian stone that had been quarried locally.

Yet another bridge is Ponte Mallio, at the ancient town of Cale, the present-day Cagli. This crossed the Bosso torrent before it joined the Burano. The central archway, built with 21 voussoirs and with a projecting line of blocks above it, measures 11.66 m (40 Roman feet) while the width of the road running over it, including pavement and parapets, is 9 m (30 Roman feet). The bridge was built towards the end of the Republican Period using vast blocks of grey stone and cornelian stone. In various places, depending upon the effect of the current, it is built using a dry stone technique.

The same technique was used further along the road in the construction of the viaduct in the Acqualagna district, just by the ancient abbey of San Vincenzo. This time, the viaduct has been built using the local Furlo stone and again dates back to the Republican period. It is reinforced at the front with six square buttresses which protected the road from being damaged when the River Candigliano flooded in bad weather. The viaduct also had two drainage arches for water running down from the slopes of Monte Pietralata.

At the Furlo Gorge we see another extraordinary work of engineering. The road passes through the gorge, supported on huge square blocks and tapered buttresses which rise up to a height of around 6 metres in height, taking the road through a small tunnel which was probably excavated from a natural passageway or cavern. The larger tunnel beside it was opened in 76 AD, during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, as the inscription by the tunnel records. At that time the task of excavating a tunnel such as this was truly mammoth. The uninterrupted series of support walls is now partially submerged by the artificial lake which has dammed up the River Candigliano, though the height of the road can be clearly seen when it emerges on the other side of the tunnel onto a narrow ledge cut into the wall of rock.

From here, the Flaminia continues on to Calmazzo, a district of Fossombrone. An interesting burial ground was found here with two tomb stones in memory of the Cissonia family. Its area measures around 135 m2 and is surrounded by a boundary fence of limestone slabs supported on small rusticated posts. In Roman times, Calmazzo was a small hamlet (or 'vicus'), built at the junction (or 'diverticulum') which already existed between the Flaminian Way and the road leading up the Metauro Valley in the direction of Urbino (Urvinum Mataurense). It stood just after the bridge which was built by the Emperor Trajan in 115 AD, restored by Federico da Montefeltro and sadly destroyed during the Second World War.

Continuing on in the direction of the Adriatic coast, the via Flaminia passes through the centre of Fossombrone and on to the San Martino del Piano district of the town, to the archaeological site of the ancient Forum Sempronii. It is commonly held that the town dates back to the time of Caius Sempronius Gracco, who built the forum between 133 and 126 BC. The town was built on a grid-like layout, running parallel with the Flaminian Way, a small stretch of which has now been unearthed. A short distance away we can see the remains of a domus, or family house, with thermal heating system, and a long stretch of basalt paving which runs parallel to the Flaminian Way. Other archaeological finds are displayed at the Museo Civico, in the Corte Alta palace in Fossombrone.

Another stretch of the ancient Flaminian Way, with the marks of chariot wheels still visible in the stone, can be seen in the Tavernelle district of Serrungarina, where various objects (vases, amphorae, coins and a rare marble head of Attis) have come to light which indicate this may have been a stopping place along the route. It has been suggested that the famous Battle of the Metauro, in which Hasdrubal of Carthage was defeated and killed in 207 BC, may have been fought in this area.

Another major stopping point along the Flaminian Way is Fano (Fanum Fortunae). This ancient town, (perhaps a municipium, or free town) was built around an ancient temple dedicated to the Goddess Fortune and was subsequently transformed by the Emperor Augustus into the Colonia Julia Fanestris. The Flaminian Way reaches the sea here before heading north along the coast through Pesaro (Pisaurum) to end its route at Rimini (Ariminum). Fano still retains its ancient grid-like layout of streets running north-south ('cardi') and east-west ('decumani'). Several stretches of basalt paving have been found just beneath the level of the present road, complete with an efficient drainage system dating back to the Augustan Period. Among the monuments dating from this time is the triple-arched Porta di Augusto (Arch of Augustus) as well as the underground remains of a large public building, which may either have been the Basilica built on one side of the Forum of Vitruvius (and described in detail by Vitruvius in his treatise 'De Architectura') or alternatively the Temple of Fortune. There is also an interesting surviving stretch of the wall of Augustus, constructed using small pieces of cut sandstone placed in horizontal rows ('opus vittatum'), strengthened with sturdy cylindrical towers and with a small gateway built on sandstone supports. The many fine relics from this period include mosaics (some still in situ), statues, busts, roadside cippi or pillars, inscriptions, and articles found in tombs which stood along the Flaminian Way. These are now conserved in the Museo Civico in the Malatesta Palace.

Part of the urban street layout of the roman colony of Pisaurum, founded in 184 BC, also survives along the Flaminian Way in Pesaro, including the main north-south street (via San Francesco-Corso XI Settembre). Various archaeological finds have come to light over the years, both in the town centre as well as along the road from Fano. The original Fano-Pesaro stretch of the Via Flaminia ran inland and only later was it built along the coast as far as Fosso Sejore, where it headed up onto the hill (along the route of the present day "via panoramica") to Colle Ardizio before dropping down (through present day Monte Granaro) into Pesaro. Stone plaques, roadside pillars and various other finds are on display in the well stocked Museo Oliveriano in Palazzo Almerici.

Heading north from Pesaro, the road crossed the River Foglia at the point where the Ponte Vecchio, with its single great arch, now stands. From here it climbs the steep slopes of Colle San Bartolo before descending down to Gabicce Mare, the last town before the border with Romagna, and on to Rimini.