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Mugnano in Teverina
About 4 km A few kilometers from Bomarzo is Mugnano in Teverina, a small hamlet located on high ground close to the Tiber and its valley at 133 m above sea level and inhabited by nearly 100 people.
Similar to other centers of the Teverina, the original Etruscan settlement developed on the plateau of an easily defensible tuffaceous spur, made even more protected by a deep moat that still divides the plateau into two distinct parts, the outermost of which was inhabited only in modern times.
Abandoned in Roman times, when its inhabitants preferred to move to the rustic villas built in the Tiber valley below, the site returned to occupation after the fall of the Roman Empire, coinciding with the first barbarian invasions in the late 9th and early 10th centuries, developing mainly around the Benedictine convent of Saints Liberato and Bartholomew, which was suppressed in the 15th century. The building that had housed the convent in 1522 became part of the property of the Orsini family, which began construction work on a new residence on that site.
In 1194 Raniero di Bonifazio, lord of the castrum, swore allegiance and obedience to Viterbo, obtaining its protection and help in return. A few years later it was conquered by Emperor Otto IV’s troops fighting with Pope Innocent III, who had chosen Viterbo as his papal home. Until the first half of the 1300s the castrum remained an ally of the Commune of Viterbo, and as such continued to be involved in the feudal clashes that took place in the Teverina.
In particular, around 1267 it became part of the property of the Orsini family, assuming the function of an outpost to control traffic along the Tiber and to defend the hinterland. The construction of the tall tower probably dates to this period. cylindrical wanted by the Orsini: characterized by loopholes for flanking fire, original three-lobed windows for sighting, and a crowning with corbels for piombating fire around the entire circumference, said tower commanded the entire line of defense and could interrupt the continuity of the walkway through two easily closable gates. It responded not only to defensive needs but also represented one of the key points of the entire offensive-defensive system of the Orsini: between the castle of Mugnano and that of Soriano, owned by the Orsini since 1278 and distant from the former about 10 km, a series of intermediate towers, connected to further lookout points (Chia, Colle Casale, S. Maria di Luco, Sassoquadro, Casale delle Rocchette and probably also Bassano in Teverina), had in fact the function not only of control but also of sending back signals and in some cases also of customs for the collection of the gabelle that marked the routes of passage and access to the Tiber.
A substantial political change occurred in 1417 with the election to the papal throne of Pope Martin V, a member of the Colonna family, an enemy of the Orsini: in 1427 Mugnano was in fact granted to Antonio Colonna, who after Martin V’s death in 1431 was declared a rebel and dispossessed of all his fiefs. In the same year Pope Eugene IV, after granting pardon to the Colonna family, gave the Reverend Apostolic Chamber possession of the castle, which, however, after a short time returned to the hands of the Orsini family.
At the time of the Colonna family, the palace-rock of the Orsini family placed to defend the entrance to the town was also transformed, incorporating the access road as well. In the early 1500s the façade facing the Tiber was enlarged and refined with a loggia designed perhaps by Peruzzi, while the façade facing the town was redefined with the addition of Renaissance architectural elements such as windows and a string-course cornice and with the symmetrical placement of the entrance portal on which the inscription “Carolus Ursinus” appears. The construction of the underpass, controlled from the palace’s interior overlooks, which regulated the population’s entry and exit from the village through two access gates that are still well preserved, also dates to this period.
Around 1580, as there were no more legitimate heirs from the Orsini di Tuscia branch, the castle with its assets passed to Virginio, from the branch of the dukes of Bracciano. The violent disagreements that arose between the two branches of the family were taken advantage of by Pope Sixtus V, who granted possession of Mugnano to the Reverend Apostolic Chamber, at least until the disagreements were resolved.
In 1622 the castle was leased for nine years to the Savelli family, and new notices of lease were in 1632, 1649 and 1660. Finally, in the early 1700s, the Reverend Apostolic Chamber returned Mugnano to the Orsini.
The Reserve of Mount Casoli
The Monte Casoli Nature Reserve was established by Lazio Regional Law no. 30 of 1999. The managing body is the Province of Viterbo in collaboration with the Municipality of Bomarzo.
The Reserve, 285 hectares and entirely within the municipality of Bomarzo, was established in order to promote the conservation and enhancement of the territory and natural and cultural resources and to protect and recover natural habitats including animal and plant species.