The Clitunno Spring

October 13, 2010 / Places
Campello sul Clitunno, Umbria

clitunnospring1Salve, Umbria verde, e tu del puro fonte
nume Clitumno! Sento in cuor l’antica
patria e aleggiarmi su l’accesa fronte
gl’ital iddil.

Hail, green Umbria, and you, Clitumno, genius* of the pure spring!
I feel in my heart the ancient fatherland, and the Italic gods
alighting on my fevered brow.
–Giosuè Carducci

So often human history is intrinsically intertwined with water—floods and drought, navigation and exploration, the rise and fall of nations—and a visit to the crystal-clear springs which form the source of the Clitunno river is a reminder of this symbiosis.

clitunnospring2This idyllic spot has been the inspiration for writers (Virgil to Pliny, Carducci to Byron have all paid homage to these springs), artists, priests, and emperors for over 2,000 years. In Roman times the spring was considered sacred for the river god Clitumnus, and white oxen were raised here to serve as sacrifices (legend had it that bathing the animals in the river rendered their color immaculate).

A severe earthquake in the year 444 A.D. changed the river’s depth, leaving it no longer navigable, and muddied the area around the springs, but a careful 19th century landscaping project restored them to their former splendor. These shallow lagoons and weeping willow planted islands are best visited on a weekday late afternoon, when traffic is at a minimum on the nearby Via Flaminia and the bus tours have left. In the silence you can hear the voices of poets past.

* – guardian or tutelary god/divinity

Rebecca Winke

by Rebecca Winke

Owner of Brigolante Apartments, a restored 16th century stone farmhouse / guesthouse in the heart of Umbria near Assisi, and blogger of life in Umbria. For tips and insider information about visiting Umbria, download her Umbria Slow App and see her writings on her personal website!

8 Responses to “The Clitunno Spring”

  1. We lived so close to this in Perugia and did not know it was there! How could we miss this lovely tranquil place! Thank you for sharing it with us Rebecca. Yet another reason to return to Italy (as if we needed one)

  2. Wonderful photos! We always enjoy your newsletter. I am wondering if you have any information on the Black River (Fiume Bera) as a major trout fishery in Umbria.

  3. Linda Boccia

    When we find a modest place to rent in Umbria we want to see this lovely place. As a painter it is perfect for painting. Grazie!

  4. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Some beautifully lyrical writing and you remind us why we love the colour green. You’ve captured the spirit of place so well. Thank you Rebecca.


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