,) a considerable river of Central Italy, which has its sources in the lofty group of the Apennines between Nursia (Norcia
) and Interocrea (Antrodoco
). Its actual source is in the immediate neighbourhood of the ancient Falacrinum, the birthplace of Vespasian, where an old church still bears the name of Sta Maria di Fonte Velino.
The upper part of its course is from N. to S.; but near Antrodoco
it turns abruptly to the W., pursues that direction as far as Rieti,
and thence flows about NNW. till it discharges its waters into the Nar (Nera
) about 3 miles above Terni
(Interamna). Just before reaching that river it forms the celebrated cascade now known as the Falls of Terni
or Cascata delle Marmore.
This waterfall is in its present form wholly artificial.
It was first formed by M‘. Curius Dentatus, who opened an artificial channel for the waters of the Velinus, and thus carried off a considerable part of the Lacus Velinus, which previously occupied a great part of the valley below Reate.
There still remained, however, as there does to this day, a considerable lake, called the Lacus Velinus, and now known as the Lago di Piè di Lugo.
It was on the banks of this lake that the villa of Axius, the friend of Cicero and Varro, was situated. (Cic. Att. 4.1. 5
; Varro, R.R.
2.1, 8.) Several smaller lakes still exist a little higher up the valley: hence we find Pliny speaking in the plural of the VELINI LACUS (Plin. Nat. 3.12. s. 17
; Tac. Ann. 1.79
; Vib. Seq. p. 24.)
The character and conformation of the lower valley of the Velinus are fully described in the article REATE
Pliny has made a complete confusion in his description of the Nar and Velinus. [NAR
] The latter river receives near Rieti
two considerable streams, the Salto
and the Turano:
the ancient name of the first is unknown to us, but the second is probably the Tolenus of Ovid. (Fast.
It flows from the mountain district once occupied by the Aequiculi, and which still retains the name of Cicolano.