(ANSA) Rieti, March 2 - Officials in the city of Rieti cited classical authors Virgil and Pliny Monday in support of their dismissal of a rival claim by Narni to be the exact centre of Italy.
"Rieti is the centre of Italy because in the classical world it was considered such," said Rieti local historian Roberto Lorenzetti.
"The Latin classics identified Rieti as Umbilicus Italiae, something much more important than the cold geometric measurement of Narni".
"The problem is that Rieti wasn't good at taking advantage of the historic (and not geographical) fact except with unpresentable building projects".
Classical authors quoted as dubbing Rieti the capital of the Italian boot include Virgil and the historian Pliny while medieval geographers calculated Rieti was 52 miles from the Adriatic sea and the same distance from the Tirennian sea as well as 310 miles from Augusta Praetoria (Aosta) and the same distance from Cap dell'Armi (Calabria).
Later the belly button of Italy was determined to be in Rieti's Piazza San Rufo and the measurements were until 1800 sculpted in granite before a pontifical brigadier, Giuseppe Capelletti, had them removed and replaced with an inscription "Medium Totius Italiae".
That inscription was in turn replaced in 1950 with a plaque saying "Centre of Italy" in 20 languages.