Temple of Clitumnus

The Temple of Clitumnus (Italian: Tempietto del Clitunno) is a small early medieval church that sits along the banks of the Clitunno river in the town of Pissignano near Campello sul Clitunno between Spoleto and Trevi, Umbria, Italy. In 2011, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of a group of seven such sites that mark the presence of Longobards in Italy. Places of Power (568-774 A.D.).

Temple of Clitumnus.

The sacred site of Jupiter Clitumnus in antiquity

The source of the river Clitunno---it springs up at the foot of mountains in Campello---was famous in antiquity as a site sacred to the river god Clitumnus. A stretch of the Via Flaminia, the great road leading from Rome to Rimini, passed by the sanctuary and many once stopped there----as did Pliny the Younger toward the end of the first century CE who records the visit in his Letters, Book VIII, 8. Urging his friend, Romanus, to come to the site to see its beauty for himself, Pliny notes that there, next to the river, "an ancient and venerable temple rises where Jupiter Clitumnus himself stands clad in a toga." Reporting how "the oracular responses delivered there prove that the deity dwells therein and tells the future," Pliny adds that the larger temple is accompanied by a number of smaller ones all around, each containing the statue of a god. Virgil mentions the site too---in Book II of his Georgics where he celebrates ". . . the milk-white herds of the Clitumnus, those bulls that often bathed in the river's sacred stream, the noblest of the victims Romans sacrifice at their triumphs . . ."

The Tempietto del Clitunno, a church dedicated to the Savior

Sixteenth-century Renaissance humanists thought that the temple-like church dedicated to San Salvatore standing next to the Via Flaminia in Pissignano must be what remained of the Temple to Jupiter Clitumnus from the old Clitumnus sanctuary, or one of the lesser temples there mentioned by Pliny. Early Christians, they supposed, must have converted the pagan building for their own rites. Plausible as this may seem, twentieth-century archaeologists found that the structure in question had been built from the ground up as a church. In 1970 Judson Emerick discovered that the building had two distinct phases of construction. First a small barrel-vaulted, one-room building rose at the site, cut deeply into the slope of the rocky hill rising behind. Not long afterward, this building was expanded at the back (at the east end) by an apse, and at the front (to the west) by an elaborate system of three entry porticoes with columnar screens in the ancient "Roman Corinthian" style. The building ended with four imposing gables, a pediment at the east, and three full aedicular fronts at the north, south, and west. Strikingly, it was only toward the last quarter of the 20th century that archaeologists saw that the "temple" at the Clitunno had been constructed mainly of spolia, that is, materials taken from many different ancient Roman structures in the neighborhood. But the builders in question could also fashion parts quite by themselves when none could be found ready-made for reuse. Among those prepared anew by the second-phase builders are the tympanum reliefs (for the four pediments), each of which displayed a central leaf-covered Christian cross-monogram surrounded by rich acanthus vine scrolls. The Tempietto's builders themselves also cut the Christian Latin inscriptions in ancient Roman block capitals that one sees in the friezes of the porticoes' gables:

+SCS DEVS ANGELORVM QVI FECIT RESVRECTIONEM+ from the main west front, still extant

Inside, in the apse at the east end of the small nave, one finds extensive remains of some early medieval frescoes depicting the Savior, and Sts. Peter and Paul, and then above, on the apsidal wall, paintings of two angels in medallions, and at center, a medallion with a Crux Gemmata. Fruiting palm trees once appeared below, on the wall at either side of the apse. Judson Emerick has shown that these decorations belonged to the phase-two church: the layer of plaster on which the paintings sit was the first to have been applied to hide and decorate the rough rubble masonry of the apse added in the second-phase of construction. The painting of the Savior looks very like the famous icon of the Pantocrator from the collection of the Byzantine monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai (q.v. online). The portrait of Peter likewise resembles the early medieval icon of the same apostle at Sinai. Icons of this kind were painted in Rome during the early Middle Ages, for example, in Santa Maria Antiqua, the famous sixth- through ninth-century sanctuary on the Roman Forum.

Increasingly art historians zero in upon the large box made of marble slabs embedded in the Tempietto's rear apse wall. This feature, original to the phase-two construction, may have functioned as a tabernacle to house the consecrated eucharist, or what counts as nearly the same thing, it could have been used as a saint's tomb or __memoria__, that is, reliquary. The box was provided with an aedicular front (the pediment of which survives from phase two, but not the colonnettes, which were set up in 1849). Such tabernacles or reliquaries are common in high medieval contexts, but rare for the early Middle Ages. Not long ago, Valentino Pace suggested that the box in question stands at the focus of the Tempietto's sculptural and fresco decoration, which could well have featured a cross relic.

The Tempietto del Clitunno, a church measuring only eleven meters in length, has survived in large part despite some rather thoughtless later interventions. In the 1730s the aedicular fronts of the north and south porticoes were dismantled and the columns sold (!). Between 1890 and 1895 those caring for the building replaced the nave floor with terra cotta tiles, set out stone-masonry benches in the nave's northeast and northwest corners, put an altar table in the apse, and built a wide stairway on the north against the remains of the northern entry portico. Sometime between 1930 and 1933 a restorer clumsily re-painted the frescoes in the Tempietto's apse. This was corrected shortly afterward, and in 1985 the frescoes were thoroughly cleaned again. Recently---in 2018---the entire nave interior was cleaned and preserved.

The construction of a dam on the river Clitunno directly in front of the Tempietto during the high Middle Ages altered the original site radically: the dam provided water power for a large flour mill whose historic walls still survive and cut deeply into the terrace on which the Tempietto's three front porches stand. In the 1950's the site was again much changed by the construction of the highway running directly behind the building (Route 3; the Via Flaminia): a huge section of the hill rising up behind the Tempietto was cut away for the road.

For about a century now, art historians have treated the tiny early medieval church at the river Clitunno as a startling classical revival, a Christian church built in the form of an ancient Roman Corinthian temple. Startling? Yes, because art historians generally do not expect to see temples as churches in Longobard, early medieval Italy or during the Middle Ages in Europe anywhere. But new perspectives on this issue open. The Tempietto's builders never intended their church to resemble a pagan temple. They focused on the scenic columnar displays which they deployed as signs of magnificence. Those now look to comprise a standard kind of festive architecture in the Euro-Mediterranean world. Introduced in Greece in Classic times (for example inside the cella of the Temple of Apollo at Bassae datable to the later fifth century B.C.), it flourished during the Hellenistic period, then became the scenic backdrop for the Roman Imperial city in numerous triumphal arches, colonnaded streets, gateways, temple fronts, temple cellae, palace facades, market halls, gymnasia, nymphaea, baths, theater stage sets, and so forth. As a treasured cultural package, a loose but recognizable gathering of motifs, or better, an iconography ("Empire imagery"), the scenic, focused, "Roman Corinthian" columnar screen continued unchanged from antiquity into the so-called Middle Ages starting with the splendid columnar displays in the early Christian basilicas that the Emperor Constantine (306-337 A.D.) built for his Christian followers in great cities, e.g., in Rome (St. Peter's at the Vatican; the Lateran basilica) or Jerusalem (The Holy Sepulchre). San Salvatore, the church on the river Clitunno, picks up---quite naturally and unsurprisingly---that long "Roman Corinthian" tradition.


  • Pliny the Younger, Letters, VIII, 8
  • Virgil, Georgics, [1]
  • Emerick, Judson (1998). __The Tempietto del Clitunno near Spoleto__ (State College, PA: Penn State Press).
  • Jaggi, Carola (1998). __San Salvatore in Spoleto__ (Wiesbaden: Reichert), especially pp. 149 ff.
  • Pace, Valentino (2003). "Immanenza dell'antico, congiunzioni romane e traiettorie Europee: Aspetti dell'arte longobarda in Umbria e in Campania," in Atti del XVI Congresso, Centro Italiano di Studi sull'Alto Medioevo: __I longobardi dei ducati di Spoleto e Benevento__ (Spoleto), pp. 1125-48.
  • Emerick, Judson (2014). "The Tempietto del Clitunno and San Salvatore near Spoleto: Ancient Roman Imperial Columnar Display in Medieval Contexts" in __Tributes to Pierre du Prey, Architecture and the Classical Tradition, from Pliny to Posterity__, ed. M. Reeve (London and Turnhout: Brepols/Harvey Miller), chap. 3, pp. 41-71.

Coordinates: 42°50′32″N 12°45′25″E / 42.8422°N 12.7569°E

Assisi Cathedral

Assisi Cathedral (Italian: Cattedrale di Assisi or Cattedrale di San Rufino di Assisi), dedicated to San Rufino (Rufinus of Assisi) is a major church in Assisi, Italy. This stately church in Umbrian Romanesque style was the third church built on the same site to contain the remains of bishop Rufinus of Assisi, martyred in the 3rd century. The construction was started in 1140 to the designs by Giovanni da Gubbio, as attested by the wall inscription visible inside the apse. He may be the same Giovanni who designed the rose-window on the façade of Santa Maria Maggiore in 1163.

The cathedral has been important in the history of the Franciscan order. In this church Saint Francis of Assisi (1182), Saint Clare (1193), and many of their original disciples were baptised. It was on hearing Francis preaching in this church in 1209 that Clare became deeply touched by his message and realized her calling. Tommaso da Celano related that once Saint Francis was witnessed praying in this church while, at the same time, he was seen jumping on a chariot of fire in the Porziuncola. In 1228, while he was in Assisi for the canonization of Saint Francis, Pope Gregory IX consecrated the high altar. Pope Innocent IV inaugurated the finished church in 1253.

As of 1986 it is a co-cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.

Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi

The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi (Italian: Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi; Latin: Basilica Sancti Francisci Assisiensis) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor Conventual in Assisi, a town in the Umbria region in central Italy, where Saint Francis was born and died. It is a Papal minor basilica and one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in Italy. With its accompanying friary, Sacro Convento, the basilica is a distinctive landmark to those approaching Assisi. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000.

The basilica, which was begun in 1228, is built into the side of a hill and comprises two churches (known as the Upper Church and the Lower Church) and a crypt, where the remains of the saint are interred. The interior of the Upper Church is an important early example of the Gothic style in Italy. The Upper and Lower Churches are decorated with frescoes by numerous late medieval painters from the Roman and Tuscan schools, and include works by Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti and possibly Pietro Cavallini. The range and quality of the works give the basilica a unique importance in demonstrating the development of Italian art of this period.

Bernd Grimm

Bernd Grimm (born 1962) is a German product designer, architectural model builder and artist. He became known through the creation of architectural models of historical and antique buildings. Ten of his models belong to the collection of the architectural icons of the architect Oswald Mathias Ungers.

Campello sul Clitunno

Campello sul Clitunno is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Perugia in the Italian region Umbria, located about 45 km southeast of Perugia.

The Temple of Clitumnus, and the source of the Clitunno River, are located in its territory. It is also a center for olive oil production. Besides other typical Central Italian foods, the local gastronomy includes crayfish and trouts.


In Roman mythology, Clitumnus (; Latin: Clītumnus) was a son of Oceanus and Tethys. He was the god of the Clitunno River in Umbria.

Reference to Clitumnus is best attested in Pliny the Younger "Letters" 8.8: "Hard by is an ancient and sacred temple, where stands Jupiter Clitumnus himself clad and adorned with a toga praetexta, and the oracular responses delivered there prove that the deity dwells within and foretells the future."The Roman Emperor Caligula visited the sacred grove prior to his abortive invasion of Britain, presumably to consult the oracle of Clitumnus.


The Clitunno, in Antiquity the Clitumnus, is a river in Umbria, Italy. The name is of uncertain origin, but it was also borne by the river god. The Clitunno rises at 42°49.5′N 12°46′E from a spring within a dozen metres of the ancient Via Flaminia near the town of Campello sul Clitunno between Spoleto and Trevi: the spring was celebrated as a great beauty spot by the Romans but also by Byron and Giosuè Carducci; in the 19th century it was planted with willows, and jealously monitored for pollution, it is open today as a paying tourist attraction.

The Clitunno then flows 60 kilometres (37 mi) through the east Umbrian plain, past the Temple of Clitumnus and the towns of Pissignano, Cannaiola, Trevi and Bevagna, to join the Topino river, a tributary of the Tiber, near Cannara. Though its current is usually sluggish, it is subject, like many other rivers in the east Umbrian plain, to sudden flooding: it was only tamed completely in the 19th century, and is largely banked by levees.

Florence Baptistery

The Florence Baptistery, also known as the Baptistery of Saint John (Italian: Battistero di San Giovanni), is a religious building in Florence, Italy, and has the status of a minor basilica. The octagonal baptistery stands in both the Piazza del Duomo and the Piazza San Giovanni, across from Florence Cathedral and the Campanile di Giotto.

The Baptistery is one of the oldest buildings in the city, constructed between 1059 and 1128 in the Florentine Romanesque style. Although the Florentine style did not spread across Italy as widely as the Pisan Romanesque or Lombard styles, its influence was decisive for the subsequent development of architecture, as it formed the basis from which Francesco Talenti, Leon Battista Alberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, and other master architects of their time created Renaissance architecture. In the case of the Florentine Romanesque, one can speak of "proto-renaissance", but at the same time an extreme survival of the late antique architectural tradition in Italy, as in the cases of the Basilica of San Salvatore, Spoleto, the Temple of Clitumnus, and the church of Sant'Alessandro in Lucca.

The Baptistery is renowned for its three sets of artistically important bronze doors with relief sculptures. The south doors were created by Andrea Pisano and the north and east doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Michelangelo dubbed the east doors the Gates of Paradise.

The Italian poet Dante Alighieri and many other notable Renaissance figures, including members of the Medici family, were baptized in this baptistery.

Fontana Maggiore

The Fontana Maggiore is a monumental medieval fountain located between the cathedral and the Palazzo dei Priori in the city of Perugia in Italy. It was made between 1277 and 1278 by sculptors Nicola Pisano and Giovanni Pisano. The hydraulics were by Fathers Bevignate and Boninsegna.

The fountain was part of program of civic improvements begun in 1278 to celebrate the autonomy of the free commune of Perugia. On the twenty-five sides of the basin are sculptures representing prophets and saints, the labors of the months, the signs of the zodiac, scenes from Genesis, and events from Roman history.


Gubbio (Italian pronunciation: [ˈgubbjo]) is a town and comune in the far northeastern part of the Italian province of Perugia (Umbria). It is located on the lowest slope of Mt. Ingino, a small mountain of the Apennines.

I quattro libri dell'architettura

I quattro libri dell'architettura (The Four Books of Architecture) is a treatise on architecture by the architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580), written in Italian. It was first published in four volumes in 1570 in Venice, illustrated with woodcuts after the author's own drawings. It has been reprinted and translated many times, often in single-volume format.

Book I was first published in English in 1663 in a London edition by Godfrey Richards. The first complete English language edition was published in London by the Italian-born architect Giacomo Leoni in 1715-1720.

Lombard architecture

The term Lombard architecture refers to the architecture of the Kingdom of the Lombards in Italy, which lasted from 568 to 774 (with residual permanence in southern Italy until the 10th-11th centuries) and which was commissioned by Lombard kings and dukes.

The architectural works of the Lombards in northern Italy (Langobardia Major) have been mostly lost due to later renovations or reconstructions, the few exceptions including the Lombard Temple at Cividale del Friuli or the church of Santa Maria fuori Portas at Castelseprio. More examples have instead survived in southern Italy (Langobardia Minor), especially in what was the Duchy of Benevento: they include the city's walls, the church of Santa Sofia and the Rocca dei Rettori, one of the few surviving Lombard military structures, as well as other minor sites near Benevento and in the former duchy of Spoleto.

The main surviving examples of Lombard architecture have been included in the Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568-774 A.D.) site. This consists of seven places with notable architectural, artistic and sculptural, and it is in the UNESCO Heritage list since 2011.

Orvieto Cathedral

Orvieto Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Orvieto; Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta) is a large 14th-century Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and situated in the town of Orvieto in Umbria, central Italy. Since 1986, the cathedral in Orvieto has been the episcopal seat of the former Diocese of Todi as well.

The building was constructed under the orders of Pope Urban IV to commemorate and provide a suitable home for the Corporal of Bolsena, the relic of miracle which is said to have occurred in 1263 in the nearby town of Bolsena, when a traveling priest who had doubts about the truth of transubstantiation found that his Host was bleeding so much that it stained the altar cloth. The cloth is now stored in the Chapel of the Corporal inside the cathedral.

Situated in a position dominating the town of Orvieto which sits perched on a volcanic plug, the cathedral's façade is a classic piece of religious construction, containing elements of design from the 14th to the 20th century, with a large rose window, golden mosaics and three huge bronze doors, while inside resides two frescoed chapels decorated by some of the best Italian painters of the period with images of Judgment Day. The cathedral has five bells, dating back to Renaissance, tuned in E flat.

Palazzo Trinci

The Trinci Palace is a patrician residence in the center of Foligno, central Italy. It houses an archaeological museum, the city's picture gallery, a multimedia museum of Tournaments and Jousts and the Civic Museum.

Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in Assisi

The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels (Italian: Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli) is a Papal minor basilica situated in the plain at the foot of the hill of Assisi, Italy, in the frazione of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

The basilica was constructed in the Mannerist style between 1569 and 1679, enclosing the 9th century little church, the Porziuncola, the most sacred place for the Franciscans. It was here that the young Francis of Assisi understood his vocation and renounced the world in order to live in poverty among the poor, and thus started the Franciscan movement.


Spoleto (, also US: , UK: , Italian: [spoˈleːto]; Latin: Spoletum) is an ancient city in the Italian province of Perugia in east-central Umbria on a foothill of the Apennines. It is 20 km (12 mi) S. of Trevi, 29 km (18 mi) N. of Terni, 63 km (39 mi) SE of Perugia; 212 km (132 mi) SE of Florence; and 126 km (78 mi) N of Rome.

Spoleto Cathedral

Spoleto Cathedral (Italian: Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta; Duomo di Spoleto) is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia created in 1821, previously that of the diocese of Spoleto, and the principal church of the Umbrian city of Spoleto, in Italy. It is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The church is essentially an example of Romanesque architecture, with a nave and two side-aisles crossed by a transept, although subsequently modified. It was built from the second half of the twelfth century after the city had been devastated by Frederick Barbarossa's troops, over an area where there had previously stood an earlier cathedral, dedicated to Saint Primianus (San Primiano) and destroyed by the emperor. A notable external porch and the belfry were added in the fifteenth and sixteenth century respectively.

The façade is divided into three bands. The lower one has a fine architraved door with sculpted door-posts. Two pulpits are provided on each side of the porch. The upper bands are separated by rose windows and ogival arches. The most striking feature of the upper façade is the Byzantine-hieratic mosaic portraying Christ giving a Benediction, signed by one Solsternus (1207). He signed his work with the inscription "Doctor Solsternus, hac summus in arte modernus" (doctor Solsternus, supremely modern in his art ), calling himself an outstanding modern artist. Nothing else is known about him. He was certainly ahead of his contemporaries, because it would take half a century before the mosaics in Roman churches would surpass his style. The part of the belfry contemporary with the church reuses Roman and early medieval elements.


The interior was significantly modified in the 17th–18th centuries. It has kept the original Cosmatesque floor of the central nave and the frescoed apse. The paintings of the latter were finished in 1467–1469 by Filippo Lippi and his pupils Fra' Diamante and Piermatteo Lauro de' Manfredi da Amelia: they depict scenes from the Life of the Virgin. Lippi is buried in the south arm of the transept.

Also noteworthy are the altar cross by Alberto Sozio, dated 1187, a Byzantine icon donated to the city by Barbarossa as a sign of peace and the frescoes by Pinturicchio in the Chapel of the Bishop of Eroli. Other frescoes from the 16th century are in the next chapel. The church also contains a polychrome wood statue of the Madonna (14th century) and a choir (16th century) with painted altar and tabernacle, in the Chapel of the Relics, under which lies the crypt of the former cathedral of San Primiano.


Todi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtɔːdi]) is a town and comune (municipality) of the province of Perugia (region of Umbria) in central Italy. It is perched on a tall two-crested hill overlooking the east bank of the river Tiber, commanding distant views in every direction.

In the 1990s, Richard S. Levine, a professor of Architecture at the University of Kentucky, described Todi as the model sustainable city, because of its scale and its ability to reinvent itself over time. After that, the Italian press reported on Todi as the world's most livable city.

Landmarks of Umbria


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