The history of Orte is linked to the Tiber River and its crossing. Orte was an important river port and is said to have been founded by the Pelasgians, a Greek people who arrive in Italy around 1500 BC and who had in Thessaly a city called Orthe or Orthi.
Since the sixth century BC it was inhabited by the Etruscans who left a track in their necropolis rich in funerary objects that are displayed in the Vatican Museum.
Virgil, Aeneid, reports that Orte sent a fleet of ships in support of the king of Rutuli against Aeneas in 300 BC.
With Orte Romans consolidated its strategic position with the construction in 240 BC of Via Amerina that connected Rome to Ravenna.
In Roman times it became a municipality and was left free to govern themselves, but without the right to vote the laws. The territory is full of rustic villas that were built and many other works from the Imperial period, including the stone bridge to replace the wood one thereby enhancing the river port of Castellum Amerinum called Port of Seripola.
Its location makes it important also in Christianity and it is already one of the first bishoprics in the seventh century AD. The territory was always going to be under the control of the Church.
All Barbarians passed through Orte to reach Rome. Orte was disputed between the Lombards and the monasteries that arose in Christianity, for its strategic role with the bridge and the port on the Tiber. The bridge remained functional throughout the Middle Ages, and became even more important following the collapse of Narni Bridge in 1054.
The flourishing period of the city was between the tenth and sixteenth century, when Pope Sixtus V Felice Peretti built the bridge over the Tiber along the Via Flaminia north of Rome.
In 1200 the first statute was completed, updated in 1395 and subsequently confirmed by Popes Nicholas V, Sixtus V, Innocent VIII.
The Orte statute is episcopal but it has the privilege to elect their bishop. The status of “free municipality” is found in the white and red colors of the banner.
The bridge was repeatedly destroyed, following the flooding of the river in 1514, 1524 and 1530 and was never rebuilt after the plague that had decimated the city.
Since then began a period of slow but ongoing decadence, even if the Orte economy recovered with sheep farming and the wool industry.