Terni today does not have much in the way of tourist attractions, although it’s railway line is a major junction, and Terni is the provincial capital of the small Umbrian province with the same name. Terni was heavily bombed by the allies in World War II due to it’s weapons industry and metalworks, and today has very little resemblance to most of the other charming hill towns in Umbria. Surprisingly though, Terni was the birthplace of St. Valentine, who was martyred there in 273 AD.
Terni was founded around the 7th century BC by the Umbrians, in a territory inhabited as early as the Bronze Age. In the 3rd century BC it was conquered by the Romans and soon become an important municipality as it sits right on the Via Flaminia. The Roman name for Terni was Interamna, meaning “in between two rivers”. During the Roman Empire the city was enriched with several buildings, including aqueducts, walls, amphitheaters, temples and bridges. After the Lombard conquest (755) Terni lost it’s importance, and 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 14th century Terni issued a constitution of its own and from 1353 the walls were enlarged, and new channels were opened. Later it become part of the Papal States. In 1580 an ironwork, 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, Terni declined further due to plagues and famines. In the 19th century Terni took advantage of the Industrial Revolution and it’s supply of available water and crated new industries such as steelworks, saw mills, wool mills, and foundries. In 1927 Terni became capital of the province, although the presence of the industries in and around Terni made it a favorite target for the Allied bombardments in World War II, totaling 108 raids.
How To Get To Terni – Terni is connected with the A1 motorway. From Perugia, take the E45 highway towards Rome, and exit at Terni Ouest. Terni railway station forms part of the Rome–Ancona national rail line, and is also a junction station for two secondary lines, the Terni–Sulmona railway (which links Terni with L’Aquila) and the Terni–Sansepolcro railway, which includes regular trains from Perugia. The local urban and suburban transport service, ATC, runs buses from the forecourt near the train station to numerous local villages, as well as Narni, Todi, Marmore Falls, Spoleto, and Orvieto.
What To See In Terni – Although Terni is a fairly large, spread out city, much of it’s historical landmarks can be found within a small area in the center and all can easily be reached on foot. The Duomo, or Basilica of S. Maria Assunta can be found just south of the city center near the public gardens, and was built on the site of earlier religious buildings dating from the 6th century. Today, the basilica we see is from a renovation dating from 1635 and has Baroque lines, although there are a few traces of the earlier Romanesque church remaining. In the interior is one organ designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and the belfry is from the 18th century.
The Roman Amphitheater, once capable of holding over 10,000 spectators, was built in 32 BC and can be found close to the Duomo. Not much is left but a few ruins, but it is one of the best preserved Roman sites in Terni.
The small Roman gate of Porta Sant’Angelo, is one of the four ancient entrances to the city, now almost completely restored.
The Church of St. Francesco can be found halfway along Corso Tacito. Originating from the 13th century, it was designed in the typical Francescian style with a single nave and transept. The lateral aisles and bell tower were added in the 15th century. Inside the church is a cycle of frescoes painted by Bartolomeo di Tommaso from the Giotto school which dates back to the 15th century as well.
The new Pinacotea Communale in the neoclassical Palazzo Gazzoli, on Via del Teatro Romano is one of the richest and most important art galleries in all of Umbria. Along with contemporary works of art by Miro, Kandinsky, and Chagall, it also has important pieces representative of the medieval Umbrian school by Benozzo Gozzoli.
Outside of Terni are many notable points of interest including the Abbazia di San Pietro in Valle found 8 km south of Scheggino just before the hamlet of Colleponte. Open daily from 10am-noon & 2-5pm with free admission. Set high on the hillside, this is one of central Italy’s finest abbeys and one of Umbria’s few memorials to the Lombard dukedom of Spoleto. Much renovation has been undertaken to store the abbey although part of it has been turned into a hotel.
Also worth visiting outside of Terni are the Cascata del Marmore, (Marmore waterfalls), and Lago di Piedilucco.
Every year on St. Valentine’s Day the city celebrates with a large fair and fireworks.
Terni Tourist Information
Via Cesare Battisti
Ph 0744 423047