The valley crossed by the Topino river and the slopes of Mt. Subasio form the splendid natural backdrop for the town of Valtopina. For centuries the pleasant luxuriant green landscape has provided the setting for the history of this area and the surrounding hills, where man has been present since protohistoric times. The development of permanent settlements received a boost with the building of the Via Flaminia, the important Roman consular road opened in 220 B.C., interesting traces of which still remain, such as the wall from Hadrian’s time at Ponte Rio, the ruins of bridges over the Topino and Ponte Centesimo, the Augustan aqueduct at Pieve Fanonica, and the rural Roman settlement below the Castello di Santa Cristina.
In the 10th-11th centuries many fortified villages were built in the hills and were federated in the Universitas Vallis Tupini et Villae Balciani, with the Castello di Poggio as its political and administrative center. The valley’s period of independence was first interrupted in 1282 with its submission to Assisi, and again between 1383 and 1439 with the seizing of power by the Trinci family of Foligno. The people continued to live in the hills, while the valley floor was used for commercial activities, favored by the important road and by the establishment in the latter half of the 1400s of the Fair of St. Bernardine, which was held at the spot where the Anna stream flows into the Topino. A towncalled Cerqua grew here, the present-day Valtopina, which became the administrative seat of the area in 1867 when, following the construction of the Rome-Ancona railroad line and the opening of the station, economic activities became increasingly concentrated down in the valley, making it a pole of attraction for the inhabitants of the hill towns.
An interesting itinerary includes the town, the gardens alongside the river, the village of Casa Orlando, where pre-Roman settlements can be seen, the Roman Villa and, not far away, the Church of Santa Cristina. Valtopina’s 19th-century Town Hall is the home of the Museum of Embroidery and Weaving, which has an interesting collection of textiles made between the late 1700s and the mid 1900s, offering a history of women’s clothing and customs in past centuries, with embroidery, lace and applications. Nearby, enveloped in the silence of nature, are the fascinating Poggio, Sasso, Santa Cristina, and Gallano castles, still today evoking the enchantment of the Middle Ages.