Monte Peglia and its ancient routes
The territory of the Municipality of San Venanzo is fully included within the “Territorial System of Environmental Naturalistic Interest Monte Peglia and Selva di Meana”, and it also includes a volcanological area.
Unlike other mountain areas, exploring the valleys and reliefs of this part of Umbria one realizes the ancient routes are not merely pedestrian pathways but real roads. The low altitude has always encouraged human settlement; the abundant presence of woods and clearings favoured breeding and the use of wood and until the advent of motorisation the economy of the area was flourishing and the inhabitants numerous. Traffic and movements were frequent and a dense network of roads covered the entire territory.
The sudden loss of value of the timber generated a strong crisis and the consequent depopulation; but the wood has preserved all the signs of the ancient roads. In other Umbrian and Italian areas, without woods or where these have been transformed into cultivable fields, the traces of the past have been lost forever. This did not happen here, thanks to the abundant forest cover. This characteristic is authentic and unique. The Alps and the Apennines are deprived of it, as well as all the anthropized areas and those in the plains. Few areas in Italy are similar to Monte Peglia.
We know the first Homo Sapiens arrived in Italy from the Alps and progressed down into the Apennines; they moved as high as possible, avoiding streams and valleys, both to stay with dry feet and to avoid dangerous encounters with animals or other malicious men. This leads many anthropologists to think that Man arrived at Peglia from Montarale; even today it is still possible with a 4×4 vehicle to follow the ridge road connecting the summit of Montarale with that of Peglia.
After the first anthropizations, the population increased and so also the settlements, that from isolated (for only one family group) became community groups; therefore, the network of connection routes has become more and more consistent. These routes had a purely local function, but during the Middle Ages it was created here what today we could defined a “motorway”: the Via Orvietana, connecting Orvieto to Perugia. The research carried out at the State Archives in Terni has allowed us to reconstruct the existing route in the first half of the 19th century (Gregorian Cadastre of the Papal State, 1816 – 1835), in particular the part that crosses the territory of the Municipality of San Venanzo.
The work that this Municipality is doing, in collaboration with Circolo Il Pozzo of Marsciano, consists in giving back to the collective memory these routes, informing those who travel across them on foot, by bike or on horseback, whether tourists or residents, about the origins and historic importance of the places they are visiting and routes they are following.
The present network is rich and varied. The proposed routes are divided into two categories.
“The rings” are based on the ancient tracks that connected the various inhabited places of this territory and allow us to leave and get back at the same point.
“The routes”, on the other hand, mostly follow the ancient links reported in the Gregorian Cadastre of the Papal State of the first half of the 1800s. Some of these have remained substantially unchanged while others have seen radical changes over the 100 years, when motor vehicles replaced carts and carriages pulled by animals.
For tens of thousands of years, from the first appearances of Man until the end of the 19th century, these trails remained unchanged or only slightly modified; not even the invention of the wheel led Man to change them as subsequently happened with the advent of motorization.
These routes can be downloaded on your smartphone or GPS, it is therefore easy to follow them without the danger of getting lost.
Route signs are not installed to avoid further proliferation of signage and thus prevent possible confusion with previous signs.