Montecchio, Tenaglie and Carnano
Pearls of history among the olive trees of Umbria
What it is and where it is
Montecchio is a small town in the heart of Umbria, in the province of Terni, that loves to take anyone passing through for the first time by surprise. Often, in fact, travelers are lulled by the gentle waves of the surrounding hills, the repetition of the rows of olive trees and the scents that this countryside offers. When they enter Montecchio, they see the classic country lanes that little by little are enriched by cottages and country homes. In short, one expects the classic rural village surrounded by nature.
Why it is special
But surprise awaits them in ambush. Continuing toward the center of the town, the cottages, olive groves and farm implements disappear, replaced by stone houses. And that's when unsuspecting travelers arrive in the heart of Montecchio: the road pulls up to what, although it has several windows, is clearly a fortified wall. Following it is the Mastio, and then one enters deeper into the alleys, small houses and squares. Other than a rural village, Montecchio is a real medieval village!
Not to be missed
Sure, the center is small and can be turned around in a short time, but it is so fascinating that it makes you want to know more. As luck would have it, Montecchio has a number of hamlets scattered over the surrounding hills, each ready to offer a little more about the history of the place. If, for example, you head south, you may encounter another little piece of the Middle Ages: the remains of the abbey of Sant'Andrea di Carnano and the Baschi Castle of Carnano. Just think: this very castle during the 16th century had disappeared from the maps because it was ruined. It took four centuries to bring it back to light. Amazing, isn't it?
A bit of history
The Basques were a very powerful family, who came to control 60 castles between Umbria, Tuscany and Marche. One of them, is precisely the vanished castle of Carnano. The history of the village, however, does not begin with them. First attested mention of Montecchio dates back to 1275, but legends about the origin of its place name refer to the Latin, Mons Herculis or Monticulus, hinting at a more ancient frequentation of the area. This hypothesis is reinforced in the hamlet of Tenaglie, an ancient Roman colony, in which mosaic remains of an ancient villa have been found.
What about before Rome? It is precisely Tenaglie that offers us another stop on this journey back in time, but let's start with the basics: having arrived in Tenaglie, do not be fooled by appearances (after Montecchio, by now, we have learned that surprises are at home here). Not far from the medieval village is the Etruscan Necropolis of Vallone di San Lorenzo, the largest in all of Umbria, an ancient gem guarded by olive groves.
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