Foce - Amelia in Umbria

The castle of Foce, strategically located on the Amerini Hills, had a history full of events during the Middle Ages characterized by fights between the cities of Amelia, Narni and Todi to obtain dominion over it. According to some historical sources, the ancient castle was founded by a group of refugees from Corsica, who had abandoned the island for fear of Saracen incursions. The first references to the castle, known as “Castrum Focis”, date back to the 12th century. Located on a hill surrounded by thick woods, Foce has dominated for centuries the ancient road that connected the Agusto bridge near Narni to Amelia.

After being quickly subdued by the Amerini when Frederick II besieged Amelia in 1240, Foce was occupied by the Narnese, who forced her to swear an oath of loyalty and pay a tribute of twenty-six denarii for “fuocatico”, or a tax on the chimneys of the houses. Only in 1256, thanks to the direct intervention of Pope Alexander IV, the castle was returned to the power of Amelia. However, Narni did not give up and in 1282 tried in every way to take back this strategic site, without succeeding. The continuous requests for autonomy by the inhabitants of Foce to the Municipality of Amelia led to the occupation and burning of the castle in 1336 by the Amerino army. Only in 1367 Foce finally managed to obtain its own statute, becoming a free municipality.

Foce’s period of autonomy was short-lived. According to the historian Monsignor Di Tommaso, in 1376 the castle was given in emphyteusis to a nobleman from Perugia by the Holy See. After returning under the jurisdiction of Amelia, in 1434 a decree issued by the Council of Elders ordered the destruction of Foce due to the continuous rebellions and repeated attempts to conquer the castle of Fornole by its inhabitants. Three years later, Pope Eugene IV granted the Phocians permission to rebuild houses and city walls, exempting them from any duties for twenty-five years. In 1451, a bull from Pope Nicholas V reaffirmed Foce’s dependence on Amelia and sent four Amerino nobles to the town with the task of rebuilding the ruined fortress and strengthening the walls. Some sections of walls remain of the old castle. In the center of the town the ancient urban gate is still visible, next to which is the Romanesque church of San Gregorio, built in the 13th century and dedicated to the patron martyr of Foce. On the facade there are some sculpted bas-reliefs depicting the symbols of the four Evangelists, while in front of the portal there are two beautiful columns with refined capitals. The apse behind it is also of particular beauty, decorated with hanging arches. Inside the church there is a precious carved and painted wooden crucifix, of Umbrian origin, dating back to the end of the 14th or beginning of the 15th century. There is also a fresco depicting a Madonna della Misericordia (15th century) and, on a niche on the right wall, a fragment of a fresco depicting Saint Sebastian pierced by arrows (16th century). Further down, in the square at the entrance to the town, there is a beautiful civic well, of medieval origin but renovated in the 17th century during the pontificate of Urban VIII Barberini