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Etruscan Well

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The Etruscan Well, or Pozzo Sorbello, is one of the major Etruscan water supply projects known until now. Also stated by professor Filippo Magi of the University of Perugia, who in 1966 led an immersion expedition for in-depth examination of the well. It was also thanks to Marquis Uguccione – who at the time owned Palazzo Sorbello (under which the Etruscan well is located) that the university was able to access the well for their analysis.

After the first immersion, being understood the importance of such work, two more followed. In 1980 the Sorbello family opened the well to the public, encouraging the visit and creating great interest around it. This move played a key role in increasing touristic arrivals in Perugia.

The Well is located in the basement of Palazzo Sorbello, hence its other name: Pozzo Sorbello. It is near Porta Sole, coming from Corso Venucci through Piazza IV Novembre and passing the Duomo on you left, you can find it by keeping on the right side of the road.

The well was built on the highest spot of the city, 477 metres (1500 feet) above sea level, dug on land of fluvial-lacustrine origin. It has a capacity of 424 cubic metres (112,000 gallons) and it was built during the second half of the III Century Before Christ to meet the water needs of the city, which had several wells around its whole perimeter (the Pozzo di San Paolo in Todi is very similar).

Besides its architectonic value, another key aspect is its size, reaching 37 metres (121 feet) in depth.

The building materials are typical of Etruscan Architecture, the upper part of the well is made of travertine extracted from the nearby district of Ellera. These materials were essential to determine the origin of the well, since they were similar to the ones used to build the city wall.

Another element that contributed to its relevance and fame, is the upper covering of the well. Built with travertine diagonal slabs supported by stone trusses which are completely dry-fitted, that means that no mortar or amalgam of any kind was used. These trusses form two roofs weighing about 8 tonnes each. It is believed that the covering was built using scaffoldings lowering the various stone and travertine blocks from above.

The well underwent several modifications and structural interventions throughout the centuries.  Initially the opening was centred with the shaft, the current one (vèra) was built during the Middle Ages. The original vèra was probably square.

Initially the water was collected simply by a bucket on a rope, later a pulley system was employed.

The well has always been used during the centuries, until shortly before it was “rediscovered” as in important archaeological element.

Today it is manage by the Ranieri Foundation of Sorbello to whom it was donated by the owners of the building.

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