Today, the location known as “Sources of Clitumno” is a small hamlet situated on the Via Flaminia in the stretch that connects Foligno to Spoleto. There are sources, in fact, than it is now a stream but that was, in ancient times, the river vigorous enough to be navigable and celebrated by countless poets.
Its main feature, which makes it popular since ancient times, is the purity of the waters that flow into this area, giving rise to the watercourse of which the great Roman historian Pliny the Younger said, for this reason, “the Eddy, who is bursting out, widens into a large bed so pure and clear, that you can count the coins to the bottom (votive), they are thrown, and the glittering stones. ”
The unique transparency of the water, and the bucolic setting of these sources, that flow under a small hill adorned with cypress trees, with ash trees and poplars that accompany the course mirrored in the clear water, creating a framework that has always represented a huge attraction for artists and poets of all time.
The beauty and peace of this area for thousands of years is connected with a deep sense of sacredness: the amenity of sources Clitumno fact suggested to the ancient inhabitants of this territory the perception that such a spectacle was the work of God. That’s why, since pre-Roman times, the sources are considered sacred place, home to a god of nature, in the imperial era is identified with Jupiter Clitumno.
The religious importance of the sources of Clitumno is witnessed today by a monument of great artistic and historical value: it is precisely the small temple dedicated to Jupiter Clitumno, located near the headwaters of the stream. The Roman temple, ruined over the centuries following the fall of the Empire, was reconstructed in the Lombard period, in part by reusing materials from the previous building and is today part of the monuments included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Sources were held even at the special annual celebrations, the Ludi Clitumnalia, which were held in honor of the deity honored in this place. Described by Pliny the Younger and celebrated by Virgil, the sources Clitumno were visited in the following centuries by a host of artists, who have left indelible memory of these contours in its pleadings, as Byron and Carducci. The celebration of the latter in verse undoubtedly most famous: it is the ode “On the Sources of Clitumno” contained within the “Odi Barbare”.
Today the sources Clitumno have retained the atmosphere of deep wonder landscape thanks to a delightful artificial lake that collects the spring waters of the stream and has favored the nineteenth thrive vegetation lush and varied, particularly interesting for lovers of botany.
Curiously, however, what it was once a navigable river is now a small stream: this condition is likely due to a strong earthquake occurred in the fifth century AD that completely changed the face of this region, strongly downsizing the scope of the sacred river.