The Via della Spina, an ancient Roman road
Near the city of Spoleto, along the Flaminia, there is a road with very ancient origins that a tradition reconnects to the passage of the apostle Peter, who left Rome to go to the Picenes. The demonstration of its ancient origins is offered by the archaeological remains found along its route.
It is thought that a first organization of the territory dates back to the 4th century BC, probably the Via del Ferro also passed through it, a road traveled by traders of this mineral extracted on the Island of Elba and sold in Greece.
In the past centuries this road connected, through the Colfiorito pass (821 mt.), Spoleto with the Adriatic sea; The medieval period saw its importance increase because it was much shorter and less steep than the Via Plestina , coming from Foligno (36 km. Against 50 km.).
Route of the Via della Spina
Some pieces of the ancient road have now disappeared or not passable, but we will try to explore it on those tracks that still exist.
From the Flaminia near Spoleto , it is possible to easily take the Via della Spina that follows the Spina stream up to the Valico di S. Pietro and S. Paolo, at 938 meters (located between the Spina Nuova and the Spina Vecchia). road we find Passo d'Acera once a refreshment station for men and their horses. Right here, under the Torre dell'Olio, Hannibal headed for Rome after the victory of Trasimeno, would have been rejected by the Spoleto, who rained boiling oil on the enemy army. Given the impossibility of reaction, Hannibal decided to deviate along the Via della Spina and head towards the sea route (217 BC).
After passing La Spina Nuova, Spina Vecchia and Piè di Commoro you arrive at Commoro.
Commoro is an ancient medieval castle , whose parish church is S. Maria Novella located inside the castle. The church is flanked by a squat bell tower obtained from an ancient watchtower. At the base of the bell tower there is a baptismal font from the 18th century; in the upper compartment there are the gears of the old weight clock.
On the road to Orsano we arrive at the church of S. Lucia , which has played an important role as a cemetery for the community of Orsano and is very rich in frescoes, some disfigured by time and man, has recently been restored in its supporting structures and in the roof. Further on we find the church of S. Antonio , followed by the hospice of S. Antonio.
Once in Orsano you can admire the Church of M. Assunta , inside there is the precious wooden material of the seventeenth century consisting of a main altar and four other carved, gilded and polychrome side altars; in the sacristy you can see the precious "Perugian" tablecloths that are very worn but still retain much charm. The opulence of the Church is a clear reflection of the wealth once achieved by this place. Inside the castle walls there is the church of S. Maria del Castro Alberti with an imposing bell tower, inside there is an ancient floor with large stone slabs and a baptismal font.
Piè di Commoro, in past centuries, was a small stopover of the Commoro Castle, a refreshment point and overnight stay. The building looks like a large 15th century hotel, a long three-storey building, parallel to the road and flanked by a barn. The chapel today below street level, was apparently frescoed by Paolo Bontulli da Percanestro. The various frescoes found inside show the dates of 1515 (St. Anthony of Padua).
Next direction S. Lazzaro along the Via della Spina you arrive at the Church of S. Lazzaro , originally a hospice for skin patients , whose main therapy was to isolate the sick from the rest of the world. In the period of leprosy these hospices were very widespread. The Blessed Angela describes the hospital of S. Lazzaro near the Paciana of Foligno, the Franciscan sources speak of another 'hospice' between Foligno and Trevi, near Pietrarossa. When S. Lazzaro ceased its function as a hospice for skin patients, the Church became a destination for small pilgrimages.
Once in Verchiano we are halfway to Colfiorito . Although Verchiano has never been a free municipality, it was the only place on the via della spina to have, since ancient times, the Baptistery and until the whole of the 16th century the children of Cesi, Popola, S. Martino, Acquapagana came here to receive baptism. A curiosity concerning the church, the altars that are inside performed the function of family tombs and with the dowry of some of these altars, it was possible to keep a chaplain for worship, therefore for the celebration of suffrage masses.
Most of the faithful were buried in the mass graves located along the Church Aisle. This practice lasted until 1800. In some neighboring villages such as Croce di Roccafranca and Casale di Tito, the corpses were buried in the church until 1964.
Going up the road to the Sanctuary of S. Salvatore, well known and a pilgrimage destination, it is possible to see the whole via della Spina up to the Plestine plateaus. The next direction is that of Popola where you can admire the remains of the castle built by the people of Foligno in 1264 and renovated by the Barugi.
Finally Colfiorito. Before arriving at the plain of Colfiorito you will meet the Church of S. Maria di Plestia , a sanctuary located in the center of a crossroads, where the Cardo and the Decumano of the city of Plestia originally met. Around the church are evident the remains of a portico, which belonged to a public building that overlooked the forum, presumably from the Roman era. Its ancient plan is not that of the current floor of the Church but that of its crypt. Not far away, during the excavations carried out in 1962, the temple dedicated to the goddess Cupra venerated as Mother of the Plestines was brought to light.
The plain of Plestia is dominated by Monte Trella (1020 m). On the top a castelliere was erected, that is a fortified village consisting of at least one circle, a circular moat that defended the castle from ferocious animals. In front of Mount Trella, in the locality of La Fontaccia (980 m) there is another castelliere. The two castellieri defended the pass of the Via della Spina.