Epoca Etrusco Romana
Many are the remains (buccheri, stamps, ceramics …) found in the archaeological sites of the ridge Civitella dei Conti – San Venanzo – Poggio delle Civitelle and kept in the local Volcanological Museum which testify to the presence of human settlements on the Peglia already in the first centuries BC, and it is very plausible that in the heyday of the Etruscan city of Velzna and its subsequent transformation into Urbe Vetus, resulting from Roman domination, the territory of San Venanzo played a valuable function for the city of Orvieto, as a hill outpost to control the traffic of oil, wine, arms and terracotta towards the area of Perugia and Trasimeno. This led to the creation of a real border corridor which over time was enriched with castles and fortifications and, among other things, also favoured the spread of Christianity as evidenced by the history of the martyr Santo Venanzio. According to tradition, the young Roman soldier, forced to flee for his adherence to the principles of the Christian religion, found refuge in the local countryside where he made the miracle of the source of water flowed from a rock, giving his name to the castle.
So it was that, in the second half of the first century AD, the route thus defined became part of the famous Byzantine Corridor along which the heirs of the great Greek-Roman Empire, already owners of many lands around Rome, maintained the main escape route for the connection with the possessions of Ravenna and Venice.
The road actually offered an ideal shelter to the overwhelming power of the Lombards who, with the Grand Duchy of Spoleto, watched over their dominion on the other side of the Tiber. The pre-Apennine ridge of Peglia became a safer and more protected route on which started the natural continuation of the Via Amerina.
Moving along the hilly stretch of Castel dell’Aquila, Avigliano Umbro and Montenero, once crossed the city of Todi, the important artery in fact forked, at the height of Fratta Todina, between an east branch that continued towards Perugia, Gubbio and the Flaminia and a west branch which, sheltered by the castles of Collelungo, Rotecastello, San Venanzo, Pornello, Montegiove, Montegabbione, Monteleone and Città della Pieve, reached Chiusi and the continuation road towards the Adriatic Sea, along the direction Cortona, Gubbio and Fano, dodging in fact on the left the Lombards of Tuscia and on the right those of the Duchy of Spoleto. It is therefore no wonder that the armies of the Franks of Charlemagne first and Frederick Barbarossa then, actually followed more or less the same road, leaving evident traces of it.