Sarnano: the origin of the name

At least three theories have been developed regarding the origin of the name “Sarnano”: it certainly dates back to very ancient times. The meaning of the name is not self-explanatory and is different from the names of neighbouring municipalities such as Gualdo, Caldarola or San Ginesio. It has its origins in a much more archaic semantics.

The Etruscan hypothesis

The first hypothesis is based on the fact that the morpheme -ar, recurrent in the Etruscan language and used in relation to the presence of running water or soil eroded by water, suggests that the name Sarnano is derived from its location between two rivers: the Rio Terro and the Tennacola. The Abbey of Piobbico, built by the first monastic community of which we have evidence in this area, was actually known by the name of Santa Maria “intra rivora”.

Popular belief

Another theory is based on the popular belief that Sarnano was once called Silvano, a Roman god, worshipped by shepherds and farmers who elected him as protector of the harvest and the fertility of animals. If this were true, the name Silvano would most likely refer to the hill on which the Castrum of Sarnano is built.

The leading theory

The leading theory is that the name originates from Sarnus and that this was a praedial toponym, and thus a land named after its owner. This theory is confirmed by the presence of the morpheme -anum, which is found in several place names in central Italy. In this case, the name would refer to Sarnus and be ascribable to the allocation of lands to the veterans of Augustus.

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