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"Duces partium ut Carsulas venere paucos ad requiem dies sumunt...
Et locus ipse castrorum placebat, late prospectans, tuto copiarum adgestu, flontissimis pone tergum municipiis..."

Carsulae archaeological sites


Early History

Carsulae grew up as a way station on a previously unoccupied site on Via Flaminia (ca. 220 BC), probably built shortly after the road itself was built.  Its siting was probably influenced by the presence of natural springs.  None of the surviving Roman itineraries of Via Flaminia mention its existence of Carsulae, but Strabo included it in his “Geography” (ca. 7 BC), in a list of the places through which Via Flaminia passed.

It is not clear whether Carsulae became a municipium after the Social Wars (as was the case for most Umbrian cities) or at a later date.  It was certainly a municipium governed by the Augustan period: an inscription ( CIL XI 4575), which dates to this period, records the presence of duoviri.  (A number of later inscriptions refer to quattuorviri of various kinds).

Carsulae and the Emperor Augustus

Pliny the Elder included the Carsulani among the people of Umbria, the Augustan Sixth Region. Most of the public buildings of which traces survive date to the reign of the Emperor Augustus: they were probably built shortly after he restored Via Flaminia in 27 BC.

The buildings from this period that have been excavated were arranged around the forum and along  Via Flaminia, which formed the cardo maximus of the settlement.

Carsulae in the later Roman Empire

Carsulae was probably extended in the following three centuries, but these outer areas have yet to be excavated. It might be the place to which Pliny the Elder referred in an account of the cultivation of vines in the 1st century AD.  It is certainly one of the places in which Pompeia Celerina, the rich mother-in-law of Pliny the Younger, had a  villa.

Tacitus (Historiae III, 60) recorded that Marcus Antonius Primus, the general of the Emperor Vespasian, camped here in 69 AD as he prepared to march on Rome to secure the Imperial title for his master.  Tacitus explained: “Carsulae appeared be a good position for an encampment because: it commanded an extensive prospect; provisions could be safely brought up; and there were several very wealthy towns in its rear”.

Recovered inscriptions document the vibrant civic life of Carsuale until at least the reign of the Emperor Diocletian.

[The Strada del Carre, the road from Carsulae to Spoleto over Monte torre Maggiore, passed the Roman temples there that were in use until the 3rd century AD.]

There is no evidence that Carsulae was ever a diocese.  However, hagiographical sources refer to St Volusianus as a priest here in the reign of the Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-3).

Decline of Carsulae

The city must have declined as the western branch of Via Flaminia fell into disuse in the 3rd century BC.  It was abandoned in the middle of the 4th century AD, perhaps after an earthquake, and its people probably moved to San Gemini.

The Chiesetta di San Damiano (11th century) was built on the foundations of a Roman building many centuries after the site had been abandoned.

History oh the excavations

Duke Federico II Cesi organised the first excavations on the site in the 16th century.  His primary aim seems to have been to secure Roman artefacts with which to adorn Palazzo Cesi, Acquasparta and some important finds from the site are still to be found there (see the page on Finds from Carsuale).  A fresco (16th century) of Carsulae that is still in Palazzo Cesi, Rome shows the state of the excavations at this time: the remains of the Arco di San Damiano, the amphitheatre, the Chiesetta di San Damiano and the forum are all identifiable.

Pope Pius V organised a major excavation of the site in 1783 under Sebastiano Graziani in order to obtain exhibits for the new Museo Pio Clementino at the Vatican.  This work uncovered:

  1. the remains of the baths, with a mosaic floor depicting marine scenes [now in Spoleto ?];

  2. the theatre; and

  3. the amphitheatre (which was already known from the 17th century).

The work was abandoned after a relatively short period when more extensive finds were discovered at Ocriculum.

Egidio Antonio Milj, who was a Capuchin monk also known as Fr. Antonio da San Gemini, published one of the first guide books on the site (“Carsoli: rediviva ovvero storiche ricerche intorno all’antichissima città di Carsoli nell’Umbria”, Macerata, 1800).

[A bust attributed to Maecenas, which was found on the site in 1829, is now in Palazzo Vescovile, Spoleto ?]  The Archbishop of Spoleto organised more systematic excavation in 1851, but many of the finds were sold to recoup the cost of the campaign.

The area passed to the Commune of Cesi in 1860 and was largely abandoned.

The site took on its present appearance during systematic excavation under Umberto Ciotti, the Soprintendente ai Beni Archeologici Umbri, in 1951-72.  These excavations concentrated largely on the area of the forum, the amphitheatre and the theatre.  The long stretch of Via Flaminia that forms the cardo maximus of Carsulae was discovered at this time.

How to get:

From Perugia

E45 exit San Gemini nord
left for direction Cesi
right for crossroads Cesi
left, following the indications for the archeological site Carsulae

From Rome

A1 exit Orte
feeder Orte Terni direction Terni
E45 Terni Perugia exit San Gemini nord
left for direction Cesi
right for fork Cesi
left for following the indications for the archeological site Carsulae

Opening period:

Summer time: 8:30 to 19:30 from April to late October, the ticket office closes at 19.00.

Winter: 8:30 to 17:30 from late October to March, the ticket office closes at 17.00

On 24 and 31 December, the site and the Visitor Center and Documentation “U.Ciotti” close to 14.00 (ticket office closes at 13.30).

Entrance fee:

€ 5,00

€ 3,50
UE citizens between 18 and 25 years old
Teaching staff with permanent contract in the public schools
Tourist groups with a minimum of 15 people.

€ 2,50
Children under 18 years old
The first Sunday of every month,
Student groups of the Italian school and of the EU member states, accompanied by teachers
Teachers or students of: architecture, Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Literature and Philosophy and Academy of Fine Arts.
Professors and research professors of the European Academic Institute of Florence
All the subjects or categories according to the public regulation in force.


Citizens in the Municipality of Terni and in the Municipality of San Gemini
Disabled and their guides
Tourist guides
Tourist guides and interpreters by excercising the professional activities
Journalists enrolled in a national register and regular with the payment of the associative quota through exhibition of an appropriate document
Staff of the Department of the Activity and Cultural Heritage
Participants of the municipal didactic activities.


the exhibition ticket holders may visit the Archaeological Site of Carsulae, the “Ex-Siri area” museum in Terni, the Palaeontology Exhibition and the Roman Amphitheatre. 

€ 7,00

€ 5,00

€ 3,50

Tourist information:

“Umberto Ciotti” Visiting and Documentation Centre of Carsulae
Strada di Carsoli, 8 – 05100 Terni
For further information and booking:
Tel: +39 0744 334133
mail address:

Tourist guide:


8 August 2015