Umbria Blog | Hannibal and the Romans at Lake Trasimeno

At Lake Trasimeno an important historical event took place in the year 217 before Christ, during the second Punic war: Hannibal won from the Romans in a short but fierce battle in which the Roman Consul Caio Flaminio lost his life.

We all know the story of Hannibal who left Cartago, the city destroyed by the Romans, to vindicate his people. He marched to Rome with his elephants via Spain and the Alps, gathering more men to fight with him along the way and leaving a trail of destruction behind. Arriving at the Trasimeno Lake he already lost his last elephant, but his army was still feared and strong.

The lay out of the landscape in the area where now Tuoro sul Trasimeno is situated, was ideal to trap the Roman soldiers that were following him: hills to one side and the lake to the other side. The Roman soldiers were not used to the tactical warfare of Hannibal and almost literally walked into the arms of the fierce soldiers awaiting them on a foggy morning.

It is an intriguing story and if you want to learn more about it, you may want to visit the museum in Tuoro sul Trasimeno ‘Museo di Annibale al Trasimeno‘. You’ll learn about the history and the background of this bloody battle where 15.000 (!) Roman soldiers lost their lives. There are written explanations and video presentations in English and Italian.

You can also make a tour on foot, by bike, or even partly by car, going through the valley where once the battle took place. There are explanations of the most important facts of the battle along the way.

A couple of years ago the battle of Hannibal against the Romans at Lake Trasimeno was enacted in a great spectacle with participants of other countries too.

In Tuoro sul Trasimeno one is proud of this historical heritage and people come to study the battle here. The yearly village feasts in August remember the presence of Hannibal and the Romans: the 4 quarters of town “battling” each other with games, theatre and cooking. Don’t miss it if you are in the area. The program is available at the local tourist information.

Bevagna guided tour

Last Saturday the Guide dell’Umbria had organized a guided tour in Bevagna. A small and not very well known town that used to be of great importance. Talking a long time ago, during the Romans.

Speaking are the vague remains of an amphitheater (houses were built on top, the shape is still visible as well as two entrances), even vaguer remains of a temple, beautiful mosaic floors of the old Roman baths and some columns here and there. One column (what remains of it) can be found in the lovely centre square. The word square does not make sense here, this piazza is everything but square, it is the most bizarre piazza I have ever seen.

Bevagna used to have a port where goods from Rome came in and local goods were transported to Rome. One of the main roads to Rome was also passing right through the city (actually when you walk on the main street, you are walking on top of this road).

We were also treated to a tour of a Roman place where they used to make coins. The place was filled with smoke because the guys were going to show us how coins were made. It was really interesting and lovely to see. Incredible to be immersed for half an hour in a real Roman atmosphere. If at all you were having lovely fantasies of life way back then … half an hour in this place takes care of that! The rooms were dimly lit, smoky and very, very uncomfortable.

What a joy to realise being so lucky to live in the era we live in (and being born in the right place as well!). Apart from everything else … I would most likely not have reached this (tender) age in Roman times!

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The Roman Assisi

Saturday the ‘Guide in Umbria’ organised a guided tour in Assisi. This time we explored the Roman. A whole new world!

Assisi became Roman on its own accord. The Romans did not need to conquer the town. It was Umbri (before the Romans took over, Umbria was inhabited by Umbri and Etruscans. Roughly the Etruscans lived West of the Tiber and the Umbri East.

The top part of Assisi is very old. There used to be an amphitheatre. Later on houses were built on top, but you can still see the shape and when entering a Spa, you can see a few of the very old arches. Well preserved. Outside there are remains of old columns and a several inscribed stones were found that make it possible to roughly understand what the situation was like. Furthermore in the San Ruffino church you can still see a Roman cistern, the tower was build on top but when entering the church on the left you can see it.

Further down in Assisi there are numerous other Roman remains until you reach the temple in the main square. Very well preserved. Do visit the museum and walk under the current square to see more remains and really understand what the square used to look like all those years back. It is amazingly different from what you see now and must have been very impressive at the time.

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