CAMPELLO SUL CLITUNNO
Since antiquity, the valley of the Clitunno river was marked by an articulated road system focusing on trans-alpine paths, and on trajectories along the alluvial plains and waterways. Writing of the Clitunno, Pliny the Younger speaks of a river flowing along a slight incline, so wide that two boats could travel side by side (Plinius, Epist. Viii, 8). It is well known, in fact, that small boats descended along the river all the way to the Tiber, going by the municipality of Mevania (Plinius, Epist. Viii, 8; and Strabo V , 10).
Some sources also mention the existence of a lake or pond, the lacus Clitumnus. The area morphology favored the implementation of a plan under Augustus to transform the valley into an important worship center, while at the same time exploiting its agricultural potential. The proximity to the Via Flaminia, the consular road, contributed to the development of the region.
According to the Burdingalense itinerarium (333 A.c.) the mutatio sacraria was placed eight miles from Spoletium and at four from Trebiae, thus exactly corresponding to the small center of Piè Beroide. Here forked the road leading to the sacella of the lacus Clitumnus —a path about eleven kilometers long, connecting several traces of ancient roman interventions. Pliny confirms that the springs of the Clitunno, previously under the jurisdiction of Spoletium, were donated to the municipality of Hispellum, as an extraterritorial holding.
It was probably concurrently to that transfer that the surrounding district was reclaimed and centuriated, as is suggested by the orientation of the centuriation of Campello, still identifiable south of the springs, corresponding to that of Hispellum.
Some of the best known latin writers - Virgil, Propertius, Statius, Juvenal, Claudianus— recall the therapeutic properties of the water of Clitunno and related cults; the sacella placed along the river; and the beauty of the landscape.
In the area there also existed a sacred forest that, according to injunctions spelled out in an epigraph dating back to the 3rd century B.C. now in the ‘Museo Civico’ of Spoleto, could neither be touched, nor inhabited. From that same area came the “white” oxen used in Rome for ritual sacrifices on the Temple of the Capitoline Jove. Abridge marked the confine between the sacred and the profane area; its memory is perhaps preserved in the toponym Santa Maria di Ponte.
Literary sources provide ample testimony concerning the numerous sacred buildings on the area, of which material traces do not survive except in spolia -funerary inscriptions and marbles, for example - reused in the Clitunno Tempietto as well as in the nearby buildings of Pieve di S. Angelo and in the Baptistery of S.Giovanni.
Undoubtedly, by the second half of the 5th century, the whole area of the Clitunno could be found lying semi-abandoned, covered by a thick layer of alluvial detritus. It is therefore probable that the massive intervention to reclaim the land and render it suitable to farming, carried out under Theodoric and well documented for the district of Spoletium, extended to the area of the Clitunno as well.
According to a tradition that was consolidated between the 17th and the 18th century, the scarcity of water in the river was the consequence of at least two earthquakes, mentioned in the writings of Ammianus Marcellinus and Nicephorus.
The pattern of inhabitation in the Early Middle Ages is difficult to trace, as is often the case given the lack of both archaeological and literary documentation. Other than the Tempietto, only isolated tracts of wall survive, mostly incorporated in later buildings.
An example is the parish Church of Sant’Angelo in Capite, whose walls are still partly visible, now incorporated in a modern building near the Tempietto.
Fausti claims that there was also a Baptistery of S.Giovanni in the vicinity; both the parish Church and the Baptistery were probably longobard buildings, contemporary to the Tempietto.
The presence of plebeian structures indicates that religious authorities (the Diocese and the Bishop) reorganized the administration of the territory in a transition period, that which goes from the end of the roman villas to the definitive concentration of the population in elevated places.