The emperor Vespasian was born on the 17th November AD 9 in the modicus vicus of Falacrinae, situated along the Via Salaria at the 80th mile. The only source for this information is Suetonius, who also provides the little we know regarding the family history of the Flavians. The location of the vicus has been much discussed, yet it appears that it can be securely placed both on the basis of the ancient itineraries as well as from the medieval toponyms.
The bimillennium of the birth of Vespasian in 2009 was marked by a series of events and exhibitions in Rome and in the Sabina. In this context, in 2005 the British School at Rome and the University of Perugia, in collaboration with the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Lazio, initiated a research programme aimed at a detailed study of the territory of Cittareale involving field survey, and the geophysical survey and excavation of key sites in the area.
The primary aims of the research were firstly to locate Falacrinae itself because of its links with Vespasian, and secondly to carry out a detailed study of the vicus. This form of settlement, although widely diffused in the Roman landscape, has until now rarely been the object of systematic archaeological investigation. A secondary, but not minor aim, was to assess the site of a potential Roman villa at San Lorenzo, a few kilometres from the site of the vicus, in particular to understand its chronological sequence in relationship to the latter, and therefore whether it was contemporary with Vespasian.
The research being conducted at Cittareale is a joint collaboration between the British School at Rome and the University of Perugia under the scientific direction of Helen Patterson and Filippo Coarelli, and the field supervision of Stephen Kay (Pallottini & San Lorenzo) and Valentino Gasparini (Pallottini & Vezzano). The project is grateful for the support of Dott.ssa Giovanna Alvino of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Lazio.
The research is financed by various bodies, including the Comune di Cittareale, the British School at Rome, the VI Comunità Montana del Velino and the Provincia di Rieti, all of who are very warmly thanked for their continuing support.