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The Town

 

Ancient stone inscriptions testify to the presence of the Umbrian population in the area around Foligno in pre-Roman times. The Roman penetration began with the construction of Via Flaminia in 217 B.C.; the town was then set north of the present centre as the presence of a necropolis and domus clearly shows. In the 12th century Foligno became a free Commune and in the same period a thriving Benidictine community settled in the area and built the Abbey of Santa Croce in Sassovivo which still dominates the town.

From 1305 to 1439 the Signory of the Trinci family ruled the town. In 1439 the Signory was defeated by the papal army led by Cardinal Vitelleschi under Pope Eugene IV’s orders. The Trinci Palace is one the most important late Gothic European buildings. Inside the palace there are well-preserved 15th-century pictorial cycles painted by Gentile da Fabriano. Foligno was one of the Italian towns which first practised the art of printing after Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of movable type printing in the mid 15th century. It was thanks to one of his pupils, Ioannes Numeister from Mainz, that on 11th April 1472 Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy was printed for the first time. There are only 32 extant copies of the precious incunabulum and eleven of them are still kept in Italian libraries or archives.

The oval shape of the historical centre is still clearly visible from the surrounding hills.
Avenues lined with trees lead from the four cardinal points to the ancient town gates. Parts of the 14th century town walls still exist and the Topino river flows along their northern side. Foligno municipality covers a surface area of 263 Sq Km and is one of the largest in Italy. The town is set on a verdant plain between Assisi and Spoleto and it is on a road network which connects it to Southern and Northern Italy and the Adriatic Sea. It is the most thriving commercial and industrial centre of Valle Umbra Sud and a very important railway and road junction. Foligno is also an “aeronautical” town for its high-quality industries and above all for the airport (built between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th) which was one of the most important and best equipped in Italy until 1944 and was unfortunately destroyed during the second World War. Today, thanks to modernization works and a new runway, the airport is actively used by Civil Protection planes and by the industries which produce modern plane components.