In the heart of the Valnerina stands the small village of Ferentillo, a jewel nestled along a gorge, from which you can not help but be fascinated. The village, dominated by two imposing fortresses and located on the road that leads from Terni to the Abbey of San Pietro in Valle, hides a fascinating and, at the same time, almost disturbing, unique place: the Museum of Mummies, an ancient crypt in the church of Santo Stefano.
The crypt was originally a medieval church from the 13th century, on which, two centuries later, the Church of Santo Stefano was erected: since then people began to bury the dead in this place and so they continued to do until the enactment, in 1804, of the Napoleonic Edict of Saint Claud, which prohibited the burials within the city walls and ordered the exhumation of the burials previously carried out. In Ferentillo, following this provision, it was discovered that the bodies that had been buried in the crypt of the Church of Santo Stefano were perfectly preserved, mummified.
The scenery that welcomes the visitor arriving in the small museum seems, at first glance, poor and bare. Only by entering, with respect and discretion, you are enveloped in a strange atmosphere and you begin the path that allows you to see the mummies and learn about their stories. What is impressive is the information we have about their lives, the curiosities that help us to glimpse, in their exposed bodies, their humanity, their being once, as we are today. On the other hand, the inscription that is located just outside the museum in itself, already suggest this thought: “Today to me, tomorrow to you, I was what you are, you will be what I am. Mortal, think that this is your goal and think that it will soon be”.
So we meet two Chinese newlyweds, who died during their honeymoon in Ferentillo, a murderer and his victim, both buried, for an ironic fate, in the same place, a young woman who died in childbirth, an old peasant woman and two Napoleonic soldiers.
The village of Ferentillo hides a treasure that the soil conditions, combined with the particular ventilation and the presence of certain microorganisms have contributed to create and that still maintain. A treasure made up not only of mummies, but also of the 14th and 15th century frescoes, the ancient entrance portal of the crypt and the remains of the apse, partially demolished.
A place rich in history, art and humanity that is certainly worth a visit.
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