Under the Tuscan Sun - UMBRIA and TUSCANY

Anthony Majanlahti took this photo, depicting a typical Umbrian countryside scene, during June of 2005. Image online via Flickr; license: CC BY 2.0. Click on the image for a greatly enlarged view.


No one knows for sure how the Umbrians of central Italy got their name.

Inhabiting their lands for at least a thousand years before Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon - signaling the end of the Roman Republic and fueling the start of an Empire - this ancient Indo-European people ultimately gave their name to a land-locked region of the country.

Caesar, who died tragically at the hands of friends - on the Ides of March, 44 B.C. - posthumously gave his name to Roman-Empire rulers who followed him.  The story of his murder was also immortalized by Shakespeare in Julius Caesarhis famous play.

Writing centuries after the Umbrians arrived, Pliny (historian of the ancient world) speculated these ancient people moved to the Italian peninsula after the Great Flood.  Archeological excavations, in fact, reveal that man has lived in the region since prehistoric times.

The first historical documents referring to Umbrians, per se, did not appear (insofar as current scholarship is concerned) until the Oscan-Umbrian tribe settled north of Rome around 1,000 B.C. That was about the time David was King of Israel.

Known today as the "Green Heart of Italy," Umbria is also the site of interesting burial chambers. Some of the most fascinating are near the town of Spoleto and date back to the Bronze or Iron Ages.

The Umbrians formed towns which still exist:

The Etruscans were not content to rule their own territory to the west of Umbria. They forced the Umbrians to concede much of their land, causing them to retreat to the region's valleys and plains.

Some of the Etruscan-formed settlements in Umbria still reflect those ancient beginnings with cities (like Perugia, Orvieto, and Citta della Pieve) evolving around ridge roads instead of central squares (like Roman towns).

Although the Etruscan and Umbrian civilizations, standing alone, were over when they could not resist the might of Rome, their lasting effects have been enormous. At the battle of Sentino, in 295 B.C., Roman legions ended the Etruscan alliance. A once-flourishing culture was soon assimilated into the Roman sphere of influence. By 90 B.C., Umbrians had become Roman citizens.

More than 2,000 years later - in 1990 - an American professor of creative writing decided to buy a 200-year-old farmhouse near the Tuscan-Umbrian border. The sun, which had once shone on the region's prehistoric people, would now shine on Frances Mayes.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 2003

Updated Last Revision: May 20, 2019

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"UMBRIA and TUSCANY" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 2003. Jan 29, 2020.
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