Festa Monini: colors, sounds and tastes of Umbria

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Aurea Umbra

Umbria and its surroundings
19 Gennaio 2012

Aurea Umbra

In Spello, a lively and well structured exhibition gives us a fascinating and vivid picture of life at the time of Constantine.


“Regio VI Umbria”. This is how it was known in the jurisdiction of Augustus, all the area that includes Umbria and part of Marche. An important region for the Empire and this is demonstrated by the many artefacts that come from museums and archaeological sites of this beautiful area and that were collected in the exhibition at Spello's Palazzo Comunale. But Aurea Umbra is not only a collection of artefacts, or a large archaeological exhibition spread across the territory; it goes beyond the confines of the building and extends throughout the city and beyond, because it involves more than thirty municipalities in the region. It offers "an experience of Umbria" intense and vivid that does not relegate archaeology to dusty libraries or incomprehensible excavations, but speaks of a life lived, what it was and what it is today.

The life and times of Constantine

Aurea Umbra tells three centuries of history, from 300 to 600 A.D., the era ordered by Constantine because it began with the reorganisation of the empire by this important emperor, a period that was wrongly considered a period of decline, that however, was extremely vital. A "golden" era characterised by a rich and complex social fabric that allowed the co-existence of very different social classes, religions and lifestyles: the aristocracy, based on the power of public office and money, as evidenced by portraits that communicate "power and rank", the richness of the mosaic decorations in the houses or the preciousness of silverware.

Then there were the middle classes

Through their activities, attitudes and cultural facilities, religious ideas, community rituals demonstrated by mythological and Christian images on the sarcophagus, funerary accoutrements, precious artefacts but also the most humble everyday documents. And finally, the poverty of the lower classes. The daily life of the lower class can be understood through the objects of material culture, trade and travel, by sea and land, from goods, economic transformations and changes in the function of public spaces. The ancient artefacts and testimonies come from all over Umbria, from the thermal baths from the station placed at Salietto (Narni), the ancient forum at Narni (Narni, Piazza dei Priori) and then the funerary accoutrements from the villa of Poggio Gramignano (Lugnano in Teverina), the oil lamps from Carsulae ...


Pagans and Christians

But the archaeological findings also demonstrate that coexistence was not only between the different social classes but also between different faiths. On the one hand the imperial power with its traditional religion, on the other, the growing presence of new revolutionary religions and cults. And it is interesting to discover the ways in which religion and Christian sects replaced the polytheism rituals speaking of coexistence, syncretism and union. Pagans and Christians tried in various ways to communicate. We all know the edict of Constantine that granted legal status to Christianity that was equivalent to the traditional Roman religion, but it is interesting that the archaeological find that rightly opens the exhibition - is the Spello Rescript.


A region of the empire

The Rescript is a marble table dated 333-335 A.D., engraved with the official response which Constantine gave to the city of "Hispellum" (Spello), to become the seat of the imperial cult, it authorised the city to celebrate the annual ludi (public games) and claim the title Flavia, but also required to provide for the construction of a temple dedicated to the worship of the gens Flavia. It is an extraordinary testimony of the persistence of a political and religious "traditional" institute, such as the cult of the emperor and his family, even in Christian times, a documentary source essential to reconstruct the face of the late antique society in Umbria and also understand the reconstruction of Spello's urban planning. Indisputable merit regarding the exhibition, is that of bringing to the fore the importance of regional cultures alongside exhibitions of the empire's dominant political centres, certainly the most documented in literary and historical sources. A city on show, there are 70 major archaeological finds collected at the Palazzo Comunale, but the exhibition is also an excellent opportunity to visit Spello, one of the most beautiful towns in Italy, perched as it is on the hill "enlightened" by the pink stones of its imposing Roman walls that enclose lanes, churches, ancient architecture and art. With a single ticket the treasures of an entire city are visible: the archaeological findings of the Constantine era at Palazzo Comunale, the mosaics of the Villa Romana in Sant'Anna, the beautiful polychrome mosaic floors, the Cappella Baglioni in Santa Maria Maggiore magnificently frescoed by Pintoricchio, the Pinacoteca Civica (Civil Art Gallery) that tells the local history through a fine collection of frescoes, sculptures and jewellery, the Museo Emilio Greco, with sculptures in bronze, plaster and resin, lithographs and etchings. The exhibition is widespread throughout Umbria, beyond the walls of Spello, an entire region, not large, but suggestive, which is a treasure trove of precious treasures. Aurea Umbra facilitates understanding through the themed itineraries and routes that lead through enchanting landscapes that is not to be missed. A legacy of art and history providing vivid images and sensations of life and people distant in time, but not in emotions.

For more information


Spello, Palazzo Comunale 29th July to 9th December 2012Opening times: 10.30am - 1pm / 2.30pm to 6pm

ITINERARY: There are thirty municipalities participating in the initiative connected by routes and itineraries organised in collaboration with the Associazione Guide Turistiche dell'Umbria (AGTU) (Umbria Association of Tourist Guides) For itinerary bookings: Call Centre Sistema Museo 199.151.123 (from Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm) callcenter@sistemamuseo.it www.aureaumbria.it - www.comune.spello.pg.it

EDUCATIONAL SERVICES: Theme exploration: the portrait Primary school (II cycle); places to live Secondary school I level , the language of the stones Secondary School I and II level. For information and bookings 199.151.123 (from Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm except holidays).

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