Nepi

The fortress of the Borgia family

Nepi

The fortress of the Borgia family

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Discover what treasures are hidden in Nepi

"The Fort of the Borgia family".

"The Aqueduct".

"The Palio of the Borgia family". 

Nepi is one of the largest towns of the Agro Falisco. This small city, rich in history, stands out for its structural appearance lent by its fortifications.

The town of Nepi, as many others of Faliscan origins, was built upon a tuff rock spur surrounded by ravines. This small city offers breath-taking views and a long eventful history.

In ancient times the town was known as Nepet, stemming from the Etruscan word Nepa, which means water. This is why Nepi is also called the town of water by some, as it is surrounded by streams, water springs and small waterfalls. According to some legends, the town was founded as long as 458 years before Rome, by the mythical figure of Termo Larte.

The Renaissance was a glorious period for the town of Nepi, being at the time the centre around which the conflicts between the great families of Della Rovere, Borgia and Farnese revolved.

The cityscape of Nepi is defined by the imposing presence of the Borgia Fortress, where, for short periods of time the daughter of Alessandro VI: Lucrezia Borgia resided.

Did you know… the famous English painter, William Turner, has left us a number of sketches depicting the views of Nepi, for instance: Mount Soratte, the Town Hall building, and the Fortress of the Borgia family. 

Did you know… the famous English painter, William Turner, has left us a number of sketches depicting the views of Nepi, for instance: Mount Soratte, the Town Hall building, and the Fortress of the Borgia family. 

The history of Nepi

City of water

The town of Nepi, in ancient times known as Nepet or Nepete, is one of the oldest towns of the Agro Falisco. It is likely such a denomination could derive from the Etruscan word Nepa, which means water.

Resting upon a tuff rock spur, as do so many other Faliscan town centres, Nepi is surrounded by many streams and water springs.

According to the legend, this small town arose a good 458 years before the birth of Rome, and it is said to have been founded by the mythical figure of Termo Larte.

It is plausible to assume the town was built by the Faliscan people during the 8th century B.C.

 

The Doorway to Etruria

In a short time, Nepi became one of the most important Faliscan towns, because of its strategic position , known by the Romans as the “Porta dell’Etruria” (the doorway to Etruria). Unlike the nearby town of Falerii Veteres (today’s Civita Castellana), Nepi chose to form an alliance with Rome.

When Faleri Veteres was destroyed by the Romans and its inhabitants relocated to the newly founded town of Falerii Novi, Nepi became a municipality of Rome. During this period, the town progressively obtained great wealth and influence.

Both the Faliscan and Roman periods are here testified by several archaeological findings.

 

The Middle Ages and the Via Amerina

Following the downfall of the Empire, the town of Nepi was ransacked several times by the Langobards. It was later, during the Early Middle Ages, that the town re-experienced a period of great splendour, as it was crossed by the Via Amerina.

In that particular period, this road axis was a crucial connecting route for the Byzantines, as it was the last remaining link between Rome and Ravenna.

In 1131, Nepi established itself as a Free Municipality, yet soon after the town became the scene of several conflicts between the main aristocratic families of the territory. These came to an end during the 15th century, when at last the town became the property of the papacy. 

 

The Renaissance

The Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, after having been elected pope in 1492 with the name of Alessandro VI, bestowed the town of Nepi to his daughter Lucrezia Borgia. She retained the position of governor until 1501, and during the years of her rule gifted the town with a period of particular peace and prosperity. One of the most tangible traces of the presence of the Borgia family in the town of Nepi is its great Fortress.

When Giulio II Della Rovere was elected pope, he banned the sons of Alessandro VI from all the dominions which the latter had conquered over time. Among these territories there was also the town of Nepi, which therefore returned under the direct rule of the Papal States.

The town of Nepi experienced its phase of greatest splendour under the dominion of the Farnese family. It is to them that we owe some magnificent pieces of architecture here conserved, such as the Town Hall Building, the fortifications and the Crypt of Saint Tolomeo.

Shortly after the departure of the Duke Pierluigi Farnese, who left the town in 1545 directed towards the Ducky of Parma and Piacenza, Nepi saw it influence gradually diminish. The territory returned once again under the dominion of the Holy See, and remained as such up until the constitution of the Kingdom of Italy. 

 

Artists’s landscapes

Among the many artists which have over time stayed in Nepi, one which should be mentioned is William Turner. The English painter visited the town when travelling through Italy in 1828. Turner,an exponent of the Romanticism movement, is one of the most significant landscape painters of all times.

During his stay in Nepi he realized a number of study drawings on his sketchpad. It was the ravines which lay below the town, and the profile of  Mount Soratte standing out on the horizon, to draw the artist’s attention. In his sketches Turner also depicted the Aqueduct, the Town Hall civic tower, and the Borgia Fortress. All these drawings are today conserved in the Tate Gallery of London.

 

The history of Nepi is rich and full of intrigues, so why not come and see for yourself the beauty of the traces it has left in the Agro Falisco!

Where is Nepi

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