The district of Natural Monuments


The district of Natural Monuments


Discover what treasures are hidden in Corchiano

“The Natural Monument of the Ravines”.

“The picturesque Living Nativity Scene”.

"The WWF Oasis of Piana Sant’Angelo".

Corchiano is a small town of the Agro Falisco, enclosed by ravines and immersed in uncontaminated nature.

Corchiano rose as one of the wealthiest Faliscan settlements, owing its importance to the vicinity to the Via Amerina and to Civita Castellana. Shielded by the ravines, it is also surrounded by farmlands and plantations, mainly of hazel trees, olive groves and vineyards. The history of this town is rich of knightly traditions, and during the Renaissance it became one of the main dominions of the Farnese family, whose coat of arms, a fleur-de-lis, appears on several occasions along the alleys of the old town centre. The Natural Monuments, hidden treasures of the Lazio region, make of this area an ideal location for nature-tourism and outdoor activities.

Walk about the town of Corchiano, and let yourself be charmed by the untamed nature of the ravines. Come and discover the wonders of the Agro Falisco!

Did you know... Corchiano could be the place where the Fescennini versus originated, the rude verses from which derived the satire. Indeed in ancient times the name of this settlement was Fescennium.

Did you know... Corchiano could be the place where the Fescennini versus originated, the rude verses from which derived the satire. Indeed in ancient times the name of this settlement was Fescennium.

The history of Corchiano


The town of Corchiano has been linked to the origins of the so called fescennini versus, pieces of folk literature which inspired both the tradition of ancient Roman theatre and Latin dramaturgy. The nature of the show was that of the obscene and offensive, based on an entirely improvised dialogue. The show took shape in two forms: the staged performances, and the goliardic ones (during feasts, weddings and ceremonies). It often happened that during the performance, even the people in the audience were insulted, so the show frequently would culminate in fights.

It is from these performances that the word Fescennium derived, and this is thought to have been the original denomination of the town of Corchiano in ancient times. Such a tradition is likely to be the result of an Etruscan influence on Roman culture, which up to then had been diametrically opposite to the satire. A tangible clue for circumscribing the area of such influence, are some verses from Virgilio’s Eneide, which tell us about Fescennium and the Agro Falisco. 


The Faliscan settlement

Evidence of a long-lasting presence of the Faliscan people in the area around Corchiano, is the broad number of the so-called “Faliscan caves”, both habitations and tombs. These historical monuments can be encountered while trekking through the countryside, and admired as they entwine with nature. 

The Faliscan settlement dates back to the 8th century B.C, following the first inhabitants from the Paleolithic period. During an early stage, several individual inhabited centres form in the district, then gradually the population converged towards the area which is now that of the old town centre of Corchiano.

Throughout the 6th century B.C, as an effect of the vicinity to the prosperous city of Falerii Veteres, the settlement slowly began to expand. The wealth of the many grave goods which have been discovered in the area, bear witness to the rise of a middle class during this period of development. 


Welfare and development

It is over the 4th century B.C that the city reached its moment of maximum development, alongside the rest of the Faliscan civilization. The road network spread, branching out in multiple lanes and fortified passages. An example of these constructions flanking the main roads, is the Via Cava of Sant’Egidio, where several tombs had been excavated out of the tuff rock walls alongside the path.

During this historical phase, the town was at the peak of its expansion, so it is not long before a strategic planning of the cemeterial area became necessary. It was also then that a great moat, 15 metres wide and 5 metres deep, was delved along the north-west side of the border, which was lacking in natural defences.

This process of development came to a standstill in 241 B.C, the year in which the Romans conquered the Faliscan capital city of Falerii Veteres. During this period of submission to the Romans, the town was gradually emptied of its inhabitants, who relocated with new settlements along the Via Amerina, which as a result soon became a connecting route of fundamental importance. 


Hortiano in the Middle Ages

The medieval town arose jointly with the Fortress, upon the remains of what had been the ancient military citadel of Fescennia. The centre was previously consecrated to the Etruscan goddess of the harvest: Hortia, from which the early denomination of the town, Hortiano. In 1100, the area was part of the feud of Ranieri di Farolfo, who had part in the building of both the Fortress and the town, the castle of Cenciano, and the Castellaccio. The centre gradually repopulated when in need of defending itself against the barbaric invasions, which broke into the Agro Falisco, and conquered the city of Faleri Novi. 

When, in 1150, the castle of Cenciano was razed to the ground by the people of Viterbo, the inhabitants of Corchiano moved to the Castellaccio, as it was easier to safeguard. First in line in the defence of the fortress, was Buccaleone, son of Ranieri. Throughout the following decades the administration of the feud passed through the hands of several different landowners, from castellans to leaders of the curia, always providing the approval of the Church. The castle of Castiglione, together with the town, came into the hands of Orso Orsini towards the end of the 1200s, and were to be run by this family up until 1472. Under the rule of the Orsini family, the feud experienced a time of great production; it was then that the three churches of Sant’Antonio, San Biagio and of the Madonna delle Grazie were built.


The feud of Corchiano during the Renaissance

Following the Orsini family, property of the feud returned to the Church. Corchiano proceeded in its expansion, when Pope Sisto IV, in 1478, appointed Cardinal Estouteville to administer the town. Under the cardinal both the church of the Soccorso and of Santa Maria were built, and the centre also experienced a period of growth in the agricultural sector: more vineyards, olive groves and wheat fields. 

In 1539, Pope Paolo III Farnese handed Corchiano, together with Fabrica di Roma, a nearby town of the Agro Falisco, over to his son, Pier Luigi Farnese. With the Farnese family administering the district, the feud became part of the duchy of Castro. The fleur-de-lis, emblem of the family’s coat of arms, can be seen on a number of buildings around the town, bearing witness to the presence of the Farnese lineage in this area for the following 110 years. The emblem of the city also bears a lilium as its symbol, together with the comb, related to the martyrium of San Biagio. 


Canton of the Cimino District

In 1798, following the administration of Ranuccio II Farnese, the feud returned as property of the Church, yet only to be shortly after seized by the French troops. The town was therefore declared by Napoleon’s army Canton of the Cimino District. There is no doubt this was to be the darkest historical period in the history of Corchiano.

In 1870 Corchiano, contextually to the whole Tuscia area, became part of the Kingdom of Italy. With the establishment of Viterbo as province of the territory in 1927, there followed the transition of Corchiano to become the state capital.


Now you have been introduced to the history of Corchiano, come and visit this town of the Agro Falisco!

Where is Corchiano


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