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Aerial view of Terni

Duomo, Terni

Train at Treni Station


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Gazetteer of Italy
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The Churches of Italy
Churches of Umbria


Welcome to Terni
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 108,248 (2003 census)
Official website:
Wikipedia: Terni

Maps: MapQuest

Perugia may be Umbria's political and cultural capital, but Terni is it's industrial center, a status which it has been nurturing since Umbria was unified with Italy in 1861.  So important was Terni to the Italian war effort because of its production of iron, steel, chemicals, machinery, textiles, armaments, the Allies pulverized it with regular saturation bombing.

The rebuilding of the city in the post war era was done in a way that has rendered Terni physically unattractive, especially compared with the beauty of the Umbrian countryside in which it sits, and the quaintness of the villages and towns in its vicinity.  Moreover, the highway and road approaches, running through to the City are confusing, which is an active discouragement for travelers and tourists who like things easier - and prettier.

Still, the traveler who is inclined to exercise patience, and who is willing  get below the surface of things will find Terni, capital of Terni Province,  very much worth a visit.

The City was probably settled by Indo-Europeans - enemies of the Umbri tribes in the surrounding areas - probably in the 7th Century BC.  It sits in a bowl on the plain of the Nera River, about 130 meters (430 feet) above sea level.  The Via Flaminia, the Roman road to Ancona, ran through the city, then forked into a western branch that went to Spoleto, and an eastern branch that went through Bevagna and Foligno, where the road combined again before heading north.

After the fall of Rome, the City was destroyed several times by invading barbarians, first the Goths (546 AD), later by the Longobards (755 BC). After Longobard rule there came a long period when control shifted from one powerful lord to another, some supporting the Holy Roman Empire, some the Papacy, occasioning yet more destruction, and rebuilding.

In Terni, one will find time-worn remains from the Iron Age to the 4th Century BC, the most outstanding a necropolis of Eneolithic "huts". As a Roman "municipium" on the Via Flavinia, it is not surprising that there are a number of Roman ruins in Terni. First and foremost perhaps, the amphitheater, with a capacity for 10,000 people, built in the 1st Century BC.

In Terni, there is a large piazza in the "old town", the Piazza Europa, closed on one side by the Palazzo Spada, now the Town Hall.  Nearby is the oldest surviving building in the city, the Chiesa di San Salvatore, a circular structure with a conical roof, featuring 15th and 16th Century frescoes of The Last Judgement by di Tomasso inside, was originally built in the 5th Century, but was expanded in the 12th.

The City was converted to Christianity between 200 and 300 AD, and so it was the site of a few very old churches, not many of which remain.  The Basilica di Santa Valentino, the city's patron saint (and patron saint of lovers) was built on a Roman cemetery.

The Duomo (Santa Maria Assunta) was built in the Romanesque style in the 10th Century, but underwent some renovations in the 18th Century in the Renaissance style.  The Cathedral  features a much prized wooden choir.

Opposite the Cathedral is the impressive Palazzo Fabrizi, now home to the City's museum.  Among the art works collected there are works by Gozzoli and The Alunno.

Other buildings and areas worth taking a look at include Chiesa San Cristoforo (12th Century), the Case dei Castelli, a group of medieval houses, Palazzo Carrara, also medieval in origins, and the large Augustinian church, San Pietro (15th Century).

On the way to Terni, or perhaps on the way from, there are a number of places to check out.

About 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the City, one will find the Cascetta della Marmore (Marmore Waterfall), at 165 meters, the highest in Europe, and the source of the hydro-electric power that has driven industrial development in Terni. It may look like a natural wonder, but the falls is actually man-made, created when the Romans diverted the Velino River into the Nera.

Visitors to the area will also enjoy an excursion to Piediluco Lake, set in a bowl of verdant hills, to sink a fishing line into the black waters, to row a boat, or simply picnic and stroll round the shore.

The ruins of the 1st Century Roman city of Carsulae, devastated by earthquake, which has been picked over for centuries for building materials used in the grand buildings of other cities (Spoleto, Bevagna etc).  Between Carsulae and Dunarobba, there is a village called Avigliano where there is a petrified forest.

At Acquasparta and Sangemini, one can take to the thermal waters - for a price, of course. Ultimately the city fell into the Papal States where it remained until Italian Unification in 1861.

Looking for a place to stay in the vicinity of Terni?  Try one of the many Agriturismos that dot the countryside.  You'll enjoy the countryside, and hospitality that includes home-cooked Umbrian style meals made from local products, which you can savor with some of the best Italian wines.

Umbria Region

4233N, 1239E


Car:  104 km (65 mi) N of Rome, 36 km (23 mi) NW of Rieti, and 29 km (18 mi) S of Spoleto.
Train/Bus: main routes from Rome.
Air: fly to Rome


Places to stay

Cesi church, Terni

Chiesa di San Franceso, Terni


The name Terni derives from the Latin word "interamna" meaning between two rivers.

Tacitus was born (AD 55) in Terni.

Terni claims to be the home of Santa Valentino - St. Valentine himself.