1865: Third leg of the works on the Traversa Interna

1865. The third leg of the works on the Traversa Interna begins. A new road is built to connect piazza della libertà to the ‘passeggiata‘.

1865, a few years past the Unification of Italy. Days of great ferment in Spoleto: after exhausting disputes, diatribes and controversies and a long series of bureaucratic and economic hindrances, the works for the construction of a new, important street can begin.

Spoleto is faced with an event of strong impact because, following many hypotheses, several studies and even some concrete projects, the first stones of an extensive route are laid, an airy and solemn path capable of connecting, in a straight line, Piazza della Delegazione (today’s Piazza della Libertà) with “la passeggiata”, the pleasant, tree-lined street completed in 1817 that Sordini described as “a place of pleasure and suburban walking”, which from the foot of Colle dei Cappuccini reached Porta S. Luca. The latter, demolished in the 1930s, was one of the gates of the city walls and was located more or less at the point, under the Casina dell’Ippocastano, where today Viale Martiri della Resistenza and Viale Giacomo Matteotti intersect.

As much as it may appear today as a long, uninterrupted and “natural” perspective, the stretch of road from Piazza della Libertà to the Casina dell’Ippocastano was then very different, especially in the stretch from Piazza della Libertà to Piazza Carducci, and was characterised by a much more compact urban fabric, more tortuous spaces, relatively narrow streets that bypassed squares and buildings and a large vineyard owned by Giuseppe Sorchi.

The works we are talking about started in 1865 and finished around 1870, represented the third, last tranche of the massive interventions linked to the construction of the Traversa Interna, a grandiose, ambitious work started on a project by Ireneo Aleandri in February 1840 and designed to solve the long-standing problems of access and mobility in the steep, impervious city centre. The project dramatically altered a large part of the city, thus depriving it forever of a conspicuous part of its historical-artistic heritage.

To understand the upheavals suffered in this part of Spoleto, we can imagine to be in Piazza della Libertà, looking at the entrance of Viale Matteotti and comparing the current situation with the architectural piece of the city that the documents of the time remind us of.

The road enlargement project brought about the demolition of the Chapel of St. Benedict, two overpasses and a section of the garden. To complete the work, the second part of the route from the current crossroads of Via Egio and via Monterozze to Porta San Luca was still missing: a wide area occupied by vineyards which was largely crossed by building a bridge in line with the promenade. Much effort was needed to expropriate the land owned by Sorchi, who fiercely resisted this solution. It only became possible after Sorchi ended his mandate, being at the time the mayor of the city. The works were completed in 1870.

After more than thirty years of work, a huge project was completed, conceived – as Liana Di Marco explains in her fundamental “La ‘traversa nazionale interna’ di Spoleto: un intervento urbanistico ottocentesco” (published by Ente Rocca di Spoleto) – because, especially at the beginning of the 19th century “…the growing traffic required different road and residential structures, better suited to the changed situation […] climbing up to Spoleto was not always easy. Entering from Porta Ponzianina you had to face an uphill path up to the church of S. Nicolò, then you could proceed flat up to Piazza Torre dell’Olio. Here the traveller could choose between the steep climb of Via Salara Vecchia-Minervio-Fontesecca to Piazza del Mercato, or continue along the current Via Pierleone up to Piazza Collicola and then climb the other steep climb of S. Lorenzo or exit towards Borgo S. Matteo […] for those in a hurry […], generally postal couriers or military troops on the move or travellers passing through, the only route left was that of the postal crossroad along the city walls”, a road that, from Porta S. Gregorio, ran alongside the church, developed inside the walls until Porta Loreto and then, in a difficult and long climb, flanked the walls outside until Porta S. Luca “…and then descended again outside Porta Monterone and diverted towards Rome”.

The first project for an interior crossbar we have ever seen dates back to the period of the second French domination when a brilliant architect and engineer from Spoleto, Pietro Ferrari, a very interesting personality, imagined in 1812 an easy and strategic interior road which, using the Ponzianina and Via Pierleone as the main roads, implied fewer demolitions and a more respectful design of the existing urban fabric, unlike the last project later carried out by Aleandri.


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