The city of Terni can be described as the 'Italian Capital of Industrial Archaeology'. This can be taken as a grim warning or an invitation to discover an alternative to the ubiquitous wine and olive oil routes.
It was during the 1800's that the Tiber Valley from Valnerina to Nera Montoro was first industrialized. It began with the building of textile factories and the modernization of the papal ironworks (ferriera pontifica).
This was followed by the 'acciaierie' or steelworks and the digging of the Nerino Canal. Finally, leading to the 1930's, the area saw expansion into electrochemical plants and power stations.
Today, Umbria promotes itself as the green heart of Italy, but for the best part of a century it really was the industrial core of the country. Much of it is now disused and the Provincia di Terni suggests an industrial walking tour of the Conca Ternana.
The 1881 Arms Factory seems the most interesting and especially the Arms Museum within the complex. Even now visits are only granted with the permission of the Ministry of Defence.
In the way Lowry documented the industrialized environments of the north of England, so the Italian secessionist movement of the 1920's owes a great debt to a group of local painters from Terni.
The bleak works of Amerigo Bartoli, Aurelio De Felice and others can be seen at the Pinacoteca in the town.
In the centre of Terni is the 'Lancia di Luce' by Arnaldo Pomodoro. This stern 30ft obelisk looks like a skeletal Empire State building and was erected in 1985.
According to the sculptor it is 'a symbol for our desires which we can all aspire to'. It is made of iron and is perhaps a fitting tribute to the area.
When to go: mid February, in the rain for the full effect.
See also Stroncone
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