Due to its strategic position as an outpost in the Amerini Hills, the stronghold of Foce was continuously being fought over in the Medieval times by the towns of Amelia, Narni and Todi who wanted it for themselves. Some historical sources state that the castle was founded by a colony of Corsicans who had fled from their island due to Saracen invasions. Ancient documents refer to it as “Casrum Focis” and the earliest reports of the castle date from the 12th century. Foce is situated on a hill surrounded by thick woodland, and has stood out for centuries above the ancient road leading into Amelia from the Bridge of Augustus in Narni. It was subjugated to the Amelians, but when Frederick 2nd beseiged Amelia (1240), Foce was occupied by Narni who forced the villagers to swear allegiance and to pay a tax of twenty-six denars for “fuocatico”, a tax on house chimneys. When Pope Alexander 4th inteceded directly in 1256, the stronghold village was given back to Amelia. But the Narnians did not give up and in 1282 tried everything in their power to reconquer this important spot, but failed. Repeated attempts by the Focians to gain autonomy from the Municipality of Amelia induced the Amelian army to occupy the castle in 1336, setting it on fire. This event did not stop the Focians from doing their utmost to free themselves from subjugation to Amelia until, in 1367, Foce managed to obtain its own State just like any other free City-state. The Statute is now housed in Amelia’s Historical Archive and is a particularly interesting juridical document regulating different social and economical aspects of life in the Medieval Age. But Foce’s period of autonomy did not last for long.
According to historian Monsignor Di Tommaso, in 1376 the castle was ceded by the Holy See in third generation emphyteusis (perpetual lease) to a nobleman from Perugia. In 1434 a Decree issued by the Amelian Council of Elders ordered Foce, who provoked Amelia, trying to occupy a number of times the fortress of Fornole, to be destroyed. Just three years after this event Pope Eugene 4th granted the Focians the right to rebuild houses and the village walls and exempted them from paying any taxes for twenty-five years while recognising Foce as a dependency of Amelia. In 1451 a Papal Bill issued by Pope Niccolò 4th reconfirmed this jurisdiction and decided to send four Amelian noblemen to Foce to supervise the rebuilding of the ruined fort and strenghthen the walls. Some sections of the wall and towers still remain from the ancient castle. In the village centre one can visit the ancient town gate and the nearby Church of St. Gregory, built during the 13th century in Romanesque style. The martyr to whom the church is dedicated is also the patron saint of Foce. The church façade has some carved low-relief symbols of the Evangelists and two lovely columns with refined capitals in front of the doorway. The rear of the church apse is charmingly decorated with small arches. The interior preserves a relevant painted wooden Crucifix (14th-15th century) probably a production of an Umbrian workshop, a fresco-painting representing The Lady of Mercy (15th century) and in a niche St. Sebastian wounded by arrows (16th century). Lower down, in the square, stands a comunal well of Medieval origin, renovated in the 17th century, under the pontificate of Urban 8th as documented by the inscription in the upper part of the well. Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie 17th century The vicarious Captain Quirino Geraldini, dedicated to the miraculous image of St. Mary of the Graces painted in a country chapel and founded on the banks of the River Beccio, and in 1629 he had the revered fresco moved to the nerby castle. The miraculous events of this holy image induced believers to build a Sanctuary, opened in 1648, where the fresco coul be properly kept in a sumptous baroque ornamental frame. The holy image became soon a destination for pilgrims from all over Italy. In 1719 a Monastery was founded nearby, assigned to the Cistercians Monks. In 1858 upon request by Cardinal Clorelli, the Holy See recognised the incredible happening as being the work of miraculous intervention. During the disastrous events of the 2nd World War, the monastery was turned into a hosptial. Further to major intervention, the Sancuary of Foce has been recently restored to its former glory displaying its candid façade scanned by elegant pilasters and ended by a monumental gable. Testo di Saverio Ricci