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Marmore Falls, near Terni

Messenano view

Messenano street

All Messenano pix are by
Natasha Sheldon

Welcome to Messenano
By Natasha Sheldon

Map: MapQuest
Messanano is a village of Spoleto

Nestling amongst the hills of southern Umbria, Messenano is the perfect place to relax whilst enjoying the delights of the region. Below the village is a small lake that offers fishing or a peaceful place for a picnic. Walk the hills, taking in the views of  woodland and olive groves and the only sound to disturb you will be birdsong.

To stay in Messenano is to be part of a traditional community. Only a few of its houses have been renovated as tourist lets or weekend retreats. The rest are homes to the 40 or so farmers who work the fields, olive groves and vineyards surrounding the village. The area has a sense of timeless tranquility.

Once the site of a 13th century castle, the village is unique in that it is constructed from the remains of the castle itself. The defensive walls, sporting one remaining tower, now surround the modern settlement. Walk the narrow, twisting streets and you walk the passageways of the old castle, past rooms that are now reformed into houses. The castle yard is now the village square, complete with a small 13th century church.  The effect is quite uncanny, a blend of past and present.   

For local dining, an Agriturismo is highly recommended. A uniquely Italian phenomenon, these working farms offer accommodation and meals for tourists. To qualify as an Agriturismo, only local produce can be served. So if not produced on the farm itself, you are guaranteed a typical regional meal, prepared from food that is sourced from within a few miles of the kitchen. Prices are very reasonable. The Agriturismo S. Vito, a quiet farm some 4km from Messenano, will serve a three course meal and a jug of the local wine for about 13 euros.

The hill towns of Spoleto, Assisi, Orvieto, Todi and Spello all make easy daytrips.. However, there are other attractions close at hand.

The haunting ruins of Carsulae are only five km away, famed as the best preserved Roman remains in Umbria. Founded in the 3rd century BC, Carsulae grew into a sizeable town due to its advantageous position on the Via Flaminia. It was abandoned after a devastating earthquake, which destroyed many of its buildings.

Modern Carsulae now consists of a small village, which, along with the local church of St Damian is built from the stones of the Roman town. However, there are plenty of remains to explore. The forum, with its basilica and temples remain visible, as well as the theatre and amphitheatre. If nothing else, Carsulae is worth visiting for its setting, once praised by Pliny the Younger and Tacitus for its beauty, a fact that still remains true today.

To the south east of Carsulae, just outside Terni are the man-made falls of Marmore, the highest waterfalls in Europe. Created from a diversion of the River Velino by the Romans in 271BC, the waterfalls became a feature of European Grand Tours, their 'terrifying beauty' immortalized by Byron and several local artists. From the 1930's up until the present day, they have been harnessed by a hydroelectric power station.

Because of this, the waters are diverted during the day, but each evening resume their natural flow. Visitors can watch from the area below or climb the paths cut into the surrounding lush natural landscape for a panoramic view of the flow steadily increasing from a sedate trickle to a rushing cascade of water. An evening cooling off under the spray of the Marmore Falls makes a very satisfactory end to a day in this lovely corner of Umbria.

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Umbria Region



By car: From the Rome to Florence motorway, exit at Orte and head in the direction of Perugia. Take the E45 for 50km and exit at Aquasparta. From here, take the provincial road to Spoleto. Turn right after 10km to reach Messenano.
Airport: Perugia
Train: Trains from Rome leave for Spoleto every hour., from Perugia every 2 hours.


Where to Stay
Eremo di Sant'Apollinare for self catering accommodation.

Agriturismo S. Vito
Loc. Crocemarroggia, 45 Spoleto.
Phone  (+39) 0743 53737

Local Argriturist Office: Via di Piazza del Popolo 16, 05018, Orvieto
(+39 0763 42820)

Carsulae Tour
For information regarding guided visits phone (+39) 0744 334133
Opening times: 1 April-30 September 8.30-19.30; 1 october-31 March 8.30-17.30

Marmore Tour
State road 209 Valnerina
Information: Phone (+39) 0744 62982


Lake near Messenano

Church at Messenano