Monday, January 23, 2012

Passo del Furlo attraverso la Gola del Furlo e la Galleria Furlo

English Title: Furlo Pass through the Furlo Gorge and the Furlo Tunnel

My last name is Furlo. When spelling it out I say: "F. U. R. L. O. That's it. It's Italian." I feel that helps justify the lack of a "W" or "OUGH" people commonly want to tack on to the end. According to, back in the 1,400s it became necessary to add a second name to distinguish between individuals with the same first name. Italian last names are especially easy to recognize because most end in a vowel and many are derived from 4 major sources:
  1. Patronymic - Based on a parent’s name (Pietro Di Alberto - Peter son of Albert)
  2. Occupational - Based on the person’s job/trade (Giovanni Contadino - John the farmer)
  3. Descriptive - Based on a unique quality of the individual, these surnames often developed from nicknames or pet names (Francesco Basso - Francis the short)
  4. Geographical - Based on a person’s residence, usually a former residence (Maria Romano - Mary from Rome)
"Furlo" is a geographical name.

Perhaps the coolest part about "Furlo" is that it actually comes from something historically significant in Italy. Plus, it's still around! I'd like to share that.

Gola del Furlo (Furlo Gorge)

Furlo Gorge is in the Marche region of central Italy (see map below), where the Candigliano River passes through it. describes it as "an overwhelming chalk formation which the Candigliano River cuts through in order to later join with the Metauro River. The drive from Acqualagna to this natural phenomenon is truly a thing of beauty. The mountainous terrain surrounding this gorge also offers challenging routes for hikers and mountain bikers. Their efforts will certainly be rewarded with spectacular views."

That does indeed look like it would be awesome to hike around. Here's the map of where everything is within Italy.

Passo del Furlo (Furlo Pass) aka Galleria Furlo (Furlo Tunnel)

Unfortunately, the pass couldn't be completed without building a tunnel.

The South Entrance
According to Wikipedia, the Roman emperor Vespasian had the Furlo Tunnel (or Gallery) built to facilitate passage on the Via Flaminia in the narrowest point of the Furlo Gorge. The tunnel has a length of 38.30 meters (~42 yards) and a height of 5.95 meters (~20 feet). During the Gothic Wars (6th century), the Ostrogoth King Totila had the pass fortified, but his troops were ousted by the Roman general Belisarius. The Lombards conquered the pass between 570 and 578, and destroyed the fortifications. In the 1980s, traffic in the Furlo Tunnel was bypassed by the construction of two highway tunnels, but maintained the same name "Galleria Furlo".

The Furlo Tunnel was dug by hand through rock using chisels, which you can still see the marks of today. Here's a close-up picture of the plate they put up (left hand side of the picture above). Since Vespasian ruled between 69-79AD, I'm going to guess that 76DC = 76AD. This makes it the 5th oldest tunnel dug.

Fun fact: I looked up "gallery" on and apparently it can mean a long covered area, narrow and open at one or both sides, used especially as a walk or corridor. It even says it could be an underground passage. So that's cool.

This map below shows the tunnel location (the dotted part). It's only 42 yards long. The yellow lines above are the new highway tunnels. If you follow the white road South (down), you'll notice that the road is called Via Furlo. That road leads to a town called Furlo, which looks to be a suburb of Acqualagna.

Here's the town:

Here, you can take a little virtual trip around the town compliments of Google Maps. You can see the gorge in the distance.

Given the way Italy generated their last names, there's a VERY high probably that my name comes from this very town. I like to think of this as my last name's "home town". ha ha. If you'd like to visit, I recommend checking out B&B Casa Furlo. It looks like a nice place to stay.

 It's pretty amazing how technology allows us to really dive into a place without actually having to go (though I still want to). It also helps that it has a fairly rich history (thanks Romans!). Thanks for letting me share where my last name comes from.

Image sources (which the photos above are also linked to):

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