The Ponte Sanguinario is part of that series of monuments that rose in Spoleto during the Roman imperial period (27 a.C. – 395 d.C.), past the bestowal of the Roman citizenship through the Lex Iulia of 90 BC., : the Roman House; the Amphitheatre, the Arch of Drusus; the remains of the temple in the Forum’s area (presently piazza del Mercato).
The bridge is on the northern side of the ancient city, close to piazza Garibaldi, and it allowed to cross the Tessino stream; from there, the via Flaminia used to head ou toward the present via Cerquiglia and the via Flaminia vecchia. The following transformation of the area led to a progressive interrement of the monument, after the stream had gradually shifted its course upnorth.
Starting from 1817, on the occasion of the works on the San Gregorio Gate, the bridge was rediscovered leading to much clamour, a sign that its function had been long lost.
After massive consolidation works, in 1846 the bridge was interred again and took on its present arrangement.
What remains of the bridge is now totally underground and can be reached through a stair. It is formed by two round arches in travertine, whose overall height cannot be measured because of the pillars’ interrement. Scholars have inferred that it had originally three arches: a wider central one, that corresponds to the present left one, and two smaller ones at both sides, of which only the right one is visible. The third one in fact, towards Piazza Garibaldi, faced total interrement during the works that led to the bridge’s re-discovery. The difference between the two visible arches confirms such hypotesis. As for the walking surface, the hypotesis is that it must have been in stone.
Written sources testify to the presence of the bridge at least during the Longobard period. Paul the Deacon talks about it in the VII century, reminding Liutprand’s passage over it. The 1296 Town Statute reports the works on the course of the Tessino stream under the bridge of San Gregorio.
Various meanings are traditionally given to the adjective “sanguinario” (bloody) which may refer to the blood of the martyrs executed there, a fate shared by the city’s patron saint, Pontianus; or else it may be the result of some sort of phonetic shift from the term Sandapilarius (which was the name of the access gate to the nearby Roman Amphitheatre).
Address: Piazza della Vittoria