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This page deals with the place-names of a region approximately corresponding to the V Regio of Italy. This region is bounded by the Adriatic sea (to the east), the river Esino (north), the Appennine range (west) and the river Saline (south). Included here are the towns of the Piceni proprie dicti and of the Palmensi, Praetutii, Hadriani.

Common remarks: the place-names have been put in the nominative case, an asterisk * means not attested, reconstructed form. The late place-names of probable Latin origin have not been included. The IE roots are in the form given by Pokorny's Indogermanische Wörterbuch. The links will be active when the single pages will be published, see the main page. For any comment, suggestion, email me.


  • Place: Ancona, province Ancona, region Marche, Italy
  • Name: Ancona (Ptol., Plin., Mel., Strab.)
  • Etymology: A Syracusan foundation, its name is the Greek ankon 'elbow' (UTET).





*Cluentus fl.

Cunerus m.


Cupra Montana
  • Place: close to Cupra Montana, province Ancona, region Marche, Italy
  • Name: Cupra Montana (Ptol., Plin.)
  • Etymology: Like for Cupra, the name is usually explained from the presence of a temple of the Goddess Cupra, found as ikiperu in a Picene inscription and as Cubrar in an Umbrian inscription. Compare also the Sabine adjective cuprum 'good', related to Latin cupio, -ere 'to desire', from whence Cupra has been equiparated with the Roman dea Bona (UTET). An alternative origin of the name is some appellative *cupra 'cavity' from the IE root *keub-, in some language in which *b>p, as in Germanic, Thracian, Hittite etc. Here, this stratum has been conventionally called "Picene".


  • Place: Fermo, province Ascoli Piceno, region Marche, Italy
  • Name: Firmium (Ptol.) Firmum (Mel., Plin., Peut.)
  • Etymology: It is a Roman colony, then the name may be from Latin firmum 'stable, fixed'. But for UTET, it is a Latin translation of a Picene name.

Helvia Ricina

  • Place: not identified, region Marche, Italy
  • Name: Novana (Plin.)
  • Etymology: Apparently, a late foundation, with the name from Latin novum 'new'. But possibly a Latin translation of an earlier name.




  • Place: possibly Pollenza (Montemilone) or another name for Urbisaglia, province Macerata, region Marche, Italy
  • Name: *Pollentia from Pollentini (Plin.)
  • Etymology: A Roman foundation, the name is from Latin polleo, -ere 'to be migthy' (UTET).



Tinna fl.


  • Place: Crocifisso di Treia, province Macerata, region Marche, Italy
  • Name: Treia (Ptol.) Traia (Plin.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. Possibly an Umbrian name for UTET. Several IE roots could fit the name, thus nothing can be said about it.

Truentus fl., Truentum

Urbs Salvia
  • Place: Anfiteatro di Urbisaglia, province Macerata, region Marche, Italy
  • Name: Urbs Salvia (Ptol.) Urbesalvia (Peut., Plin.)
  • Name: Founded during the Roman period, its name is the Roman urbs 'city', with Salvia related to the gens Salvia, that probably had properties in the area (UTET).


Albula fl.

Batinus fl.


Castrum Novum
  • Place: Terravecchia di Giulianova, province Teramo, region Abruzzo, Italy
  • Name: Castrum Novum (Plin., Strab., Peut.) Castrum (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: A Roman foundation over some previous settlement. The name is the Latin 'new castle'.


Helvinus fl.

Interamnia Praetutiorum

Matrinus fl.


Vomanus fl.
  • Place: river Vomano, province Teramo, region Abruzzo, Italy
  • Name: Vomanus fl. (Plin.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. The name is pre-IE for UTET, that compares the Roman personal name Vomanius.


The linguistic affiliation of the Piceni has always been disputed. Usually, they are considered as belonging to the Eastern Italic (or Osco-Umbrian) group, just for the geographical proximity. Actually, the typical phonetic features of that linguistic group (intervocalic f, labialization of kw, gw, etc.) are lacking in the toponymy of the area. On the contrary, clear non-Eastern Italic features appear to be dominant. Some of them (like *bh>b, etc. in every position) can be explained in several ways (for example invoking the Western Italic). But the hypothesis proposed here is that of a linguistic stratum, possibly very ancient since it is responsible of the hydronymy, characterized by a consonant shift. There is evidence of the voiced stops shifting to voiceless (*d>t, *g>k and presumably *b>p), and of the aspirated voiced stops shifting to voiced (*bh>b etc.). The voiceless stops were preserved or maybe, to complete the shift, they were aspirated, but this aspiration is not shown in the Latin sources, since Latin language had not aspirated voiceless stops in its alphabet. This unknown language is only a speculation. Conventionally, it will be referred to in the languages' page, as Picene (the so-called Picene alphabets seem to have had aspirated voiceless stops).

An Italic presence is also needed to explain some placenames with initial f or h and it is especially concentrated in the valley of river Tronto (Truentus fl.), maybe the first point from which these Italics, avoiding Picenes north and south, propagated toward the western coast of Italy. It is not clear whether this stratum is a (Western) Italic one or a part of the Osco-Umbrian group.

Possibly, an example of a Gaulish toponymy has been found, not far from the Ager Gallicus in the north of the region.

Last modified: June 10, 2002
by Antonio Sciarretta
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