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Berto di Giovanni is a very important Umbrian painter because he helps us understand how the art of Perugino and Raphael greatly influenced even the smallest Umbrian personalities.

Berto di Giovanni is mentioned for the first time in a notarial deed dated 3rd January 1488. His name appears in the freshman painters for Porta Sole, although some documents mention him as Alberto or Ruberto. He is mentioned Chamberlain of Art and in 1502 he receives various payments together with Eusebio da San Giorgio and Nicolò da Cesena for the fresco, now disappeared, of a room intended for the bishop in the canonical of the cathedral.

 


St. John the Evangelist writes the Apocalypse. Perugia, Nazioanle Gallery of Umbria

In Perugino’s workshop

Berto di Giovanni worked in Perugino’s workshop together with other notable personalities: Eusebio da San Giorgio, Sinibaldo Ibi, Ludovico d’Angelo and Lattanzio di Giovanni. The store was a small reality in which social contrasts, their own time and their own experience were shared. This community led to the development of a Koiné, a style in which it becomes really difficult to try to isolate individual shaded areas in precise contours, suffocated by the need to adhere to a common and winning style.[1]
The most important work is the Madonna and Child with Saints James the Greater and Francis; first in San Francesco del Monte and now in the National Gallery of Umbria. The Virgin, seated in a vast landscape, holds the Child in her lap, holding a wreath of flowers in her hands, the Saints kneeling beside her, while two angels in flight place a crown on her head. The Child derives from the overturned cardboard used for the Madonna of the Kress collection, now in the National Gallery of Washington, with appropriate modifications to the little face and the right arm to make him hold, very visibly, the crown of flowers. The landscape, which opens behind the protagonists, makes the table even more fascinating. The figurative language of the composition seems to be articulated on several registers: on the one hand the calmness of a typically composition by Perugino, on the other a more modern evolution of the characters.[2]
Dated 1507 is the Sacred Conversation, now in London at Buckinghain Palace, in which they are depicted the Nativity of the Assumption and the Marriage of the Virgin. The altarpiece shows a prevalent Peruginesque influence with some memories of Pala Ansidei by Raphael.The painter also participated in an excellent work, now preserved in the Vatican Art Gallery: the Coronation of the Virgin, made by Raphael, then completed by Giulio Romano and Francesco Penni. Berto di Giovanni took part in the construction of the predella, now in the National Gallery of Umbria.[3]

 

 

Banner in the cathedral of Perugia

 

In the four scenes the strong color contrasts show the clear influence of Giulio Romano. In fact in the last period, Berto di Giovanni was attracted by the great painter. Walking through the halls of the National Gallery of Umbria you can admire other masterpieces of the painter: St. John the Evangelist in Patmos with the Eternal and the Stories of the saint, which was executed for the Cistercians of St. Giuliana in Perugia. In the table we can see the clumsy representation of the evangelist taken from the figure of Pythagoras in the School of Athens. The last certain work preserved in the cathedral of Perugia is a standar painted in 1526 on the occasion of the plague.[4]

 


[1]Laura Teza, A painting in society: Perugino, Berto di Giovanni and the Store  of 1496, pp. 47-61, in Pietro Vannucci and the Perugian Painters of the early sixteenth century. Mondays of the Gallery. Proceedings of the Conferences 23 February- 10 May  2004, curated by Paola Mercurelli Salari, Superintendency for Architectural Heritage, Landscape, Umbria’s Historic Artistic and Ethno-anthropological Heritage, Perugia, Ponte San Giovanni.
[2] F. Santi, National Gallery of Umbria. Paintings, sculptures and objects of the XV-XVI centuries, Rome, 1985, p. 140, considers it Giannicola, while F. Todini, The Umbrian painting from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, Milan, 1989, I, p. 278 e P. Mercurelli Salari, Painter from Perugia area 9. Madonna with Child, two angels, the Saints Giacomo Maggiore and Francesco, in Perugino and the landscape, catalog of the exhibition (Città della Pieve, 28 February-18 July 2004), Milan 2004 , p .60 close to Berto di Giovanni.
[3] Dictionary of Painters and Engravers Biographical and Critical, by Michael Bryan, p. 119, New Edition Revised and Enlarged, Edit by Robert Edmund Graves B.A., of the British Museum. Volume I A-K, London 1886.
[4] Encyclopedia Treccani, Biographical Dictionary of Italians, Volume IX, 1967.

«So in the form of a white rose that was shown the holy militia (…) in the great flower came down that is adorned with so many leaves, and then went back where his love always updates». (Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy, Paradise, Canto XXXI, vv. 1- 2 e 10-12)

The rosewindows, real embroideries of stone placed on the facades of the churches, through their decorations filter the divine light, becoming colored beams that illuminate the aisles. The rose window is a spoke wheel that symbolizes, according to Christian tradition, the dominion of Christ on earth. It is present on the axis of the main nave, sometimes also of the secondary ones or in correspondence of chapels or cross arms. The circular shape and the chromatic range allowed the glass masters to create works of sacred art depicting, in the form of an icon, the most significant passages of the Gospel. The rose window represents the wheel of Fortune: Dante himself defines it as an angelic Intelligence that is based in Empiricism and operates among men through a divine plan. The rosette «clearly explains the cyclical nature of human fortune and confines human time to the immeasurable nature of God’s time».[1]

 

Basilica of San Benedetto

 

Its name, used since the Seventeenth century, is an accretive of the Latin term rosa, which suggests its similarity to the structure of the flower. The rose, whose freshness and beauty suggests an ethereal symbol, also recalls the chalice of Christ.[2]
In the Divine Comedy, in the XXXI canto of Paradise, Dante evokes the celestial rose that gathers in paradise the circle of the blessed admitted to contemplate God. The rose window is closely related to the circle, a symbol of perfection and therefore of God, but at the same time it is also the symbol of the labyrinth, which is created by the many plant motifs present within. The labyrinth recalls the inner search and the initiatory journey. It thus represents a link between the human and the divine worlds.

Church of San Francesco in Norcia

A tour in Valnerina

Umbria, a land of deep mysticism and spirituality, conceals in its territory the footsteps of the saints who changed the face of Christianity. It was in the green hills and highlands of Norcia that found the faith San Benedetto.
In the historic center of the city, stands the Basilica of San Benedetto, built at the birthplace of the saint and then enlarged in the Thirteenth century.
The facade, with a gabled profile, has at the bottom a splayed portal and is enriched at the top by a rose window, decorated with acanthus leaves and accompanied by the symbols of the four evangelists. Unfortunately the church was deeply damaged during the earthquake of 2016, but you can easily guess its ancient splendor.
Of great artistic and architectural interest is the church of San Francesco in Norcia, built entirely in white stone and completed by the Conventual Franciscans.
Valuable is the large rose window that dominates the façade: a frame made with rosettes and round arches, like a real embroidery, pierces the hard stone, revealing its deep meaning through the void of matter but full instead of the divine light.
A few kilometres from the homeland of San Benedetto, in Preci, stands the Hermitage of Sant’ Eutizio. The oldest part of the abbey dates back to the Ninth century and it was completed at the behest of Abbot Tendini I in 1190. The abbey bewitches the viewer as it is entirely built on a terrace between the cliff and the valley below. The rose window, a true jewel of sculpture, prevails over the structure of the church. It is a large circle surrounded by the symbols of the evangelists, typical of Romanesque architecture, but also bears fragments of early medieval sculpture.[3]

Hermitage of Sant’Eutizio

Not far from Norcia another magnificent rose window dominates the facade of the church of Santa Maria Assunta in Vallo di Nera. The church dates back to 1176 and has a façade with stone conce typically Romanesque. It is distinguished by a Gothic portal with an ogive decorated with capitals and friezes and in the upper part a rose window punctuated by twelve columns perfectly in line, which seems to be reabsorbed in the wall.
City deeply linked to spirituality, but also to the symbol of the rose window and therefore to the rose itself: Cascia is a religious center linked to the figure of Saint Rita. In this village stands the church of San Francesco, where the Blessed Franciscan Peace was buried in 1270. A prominent element of the façade, made by Comacini masters, is the refined rose window, very particular because it is given by ingranaggio of the two opposing wheels that create a dynamic effect of rotation. It is composed of eighteen columns with capitals and eighteen trilobed arches, which converge towards the center where there is a Madonna with Child. All around acanthus leaves recall classic motifs. The delicacy of the inlay making this rose window is a true masterpiece of the regional sculptural art. The Umbrian Apennines are the silent guardian of the traces of saints and pilgrims, founders of hermitages inspired by the rules of poverty, solitude and simplicity.
A legend says that Saint Mauro, his son Felice and their nurse passed through Sant’Anatolia di Narco. The population asked Mauro for help to be freed from a dragon that infested those places. Saint Mauro, thanks to divine help, faced and killed the dragon. The episode of the liberation is depicted in the frieze of the façade. In it there is also the rose window, among the most interesting examples of Umbrian Romanesque sculpture, with two rows of columns, inscribed in a square with the apocalyptic symbols.

 

Church of San Francesco

The symbology of the facade is exemplary: the rose window represents Christ, who brings light to the world, identified with the Church, through the voice of the four evangelists who allowed the knowledge.[4]
Finally, one of rose window most particular is that in the church of San Salvatore in Campi di Norcia. The tragic earthquake events of 2016 led to the collapse of much of the building and the destruction of the bell tower dating back to the sixteenth century. The remaining walls have been consolidated to secure the portions of frescoes that will be reinstated in the recovered parts.

 

Church of San Salvatore in Campi di Norcia.

 

The church, nestled in the Umbrian hills, is a rare example with two naves, with two doors and two rose windows, moreover not aligned with the line of the roof. Particularly interesting is the large outer ring of the rose window, carved with acanthus branches arranged in a sinuous spiral rotation. Basilicas, abbeys and small churches, surrounded by green Umbrian typical valleys, magical and mystical places at the same time, but also essential guides that help the visitor, spectator or hermit to grasp the purest and deepest part of Umbria. These and many other places give back precious jewels of a past time. Unfortunately many of them were deeply affected by the earthquake of a few years ago, but very often art and beauty conquer the silence that descends on the rubble, bringing these places back to their ancient beauty.

 


[1] Claudio Lanzi, Sedes Sapientiae The symbolic universe of cathedrals, Simmetria edizioni, Roma, 2009, pag. 162.
[2] M. Feuillet, Lexicon of Christian symbols, Edizioni Arkeios, Roma, 2006, p. 97-98.
[3] L. Zazzerini, Umbria Eremitica. Ubi silentium sit Deus, Edizioni LuoghInteriori, Città di Castello, 2019, pp. 124-131.
[4] L. Zazzerini, Umbria Eremitica. Ubi silentium sit Deus, Edizioni LuoghInteriori, Città di Castello, 2019, p. 109.

“The town looks solemn and powerful, with its doors, the main road and the church of San Francesco” (M. Tabarrini)

Monteleone di Spoleto, photo by Claudia Ioan

 

Set on a hill along the Corno river valley, Monteleone di Spoleto is among the most fascinating and characteristic villages of Valnerina. Over the centuries, thanks to its position, it gained the appellation of Lions of the Appennines. Its territory is part of one the most typical and uncontaminated environment of the central Apennines.
The city is like a small casket which has been keeping precious objects of history, art and architecture for centuries: in fact, Monteleone boasts very ancient origins, as evidenced by the numerous tombs found in the surroundings. About the ancient wars and battled fighted in the area, numerous testimonies remain. Among them, the famous chariot of the sixth century BC stands. It was found here in the early twentieth century. Inside the local Church of San Francesco is preserved a splendid copy, while the original one is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The town, since ancient times, appears solemn to the visitor in all its majesty; witness of its ancient vestiges, Monteleone shows off all the pride of its history to the traveler. The city, in fact, isolated among the bleak mountains of the Apennines, is rich in symbols and meanings. Such as the repetition of certain numbers: three are the city walls and, each of them, is provided with three doors, moreover, there are six towers and eight ramparts in the city. The castle, surrounded by solid walls, watchtowers and gates, preserves the typical medieval and renaissance appearence, with its houses, churches and noble buildings that overlook alleys and squares. Characteristic element of the whole country is the local white and red rock, which makes the architecture unique, able to recall the magical two-color of the ancient orders of chivalry. The territory has four residential areas (Ruscio, Rescia, Trivio and Butino), whose main activities were agriculture and sheep – farming. But the area was known due to the industrial activities too; such as the Ruscio lignite mines and the iron mines. From these mines according to the tradition, was exctracted the raw materials for the Pantheon gates in Rome.

 

The spelled, photo by Claudia Ioan

Excellence in Monteleone di Spoleto

To make Monteleone di Spoleto an even more wonderful town is the amber color that distinguishes its land: the spelled of Monteleone is among the excellences of Italy. Thanks to the efforts of local producers, it was possible to request and obtain the DOP brand (Protected Designation of Origin).

 

Monteleone di Spoleto, photo by Claudia Ioan

Church of San Francesco

Crossing the town’s walls, it is possible to discover, through pleasant alleys, important historical and artistic treasures.  The Church of San Francesco, built between the 14th and 15th centuries, is one of them. The church is the most remarkable and suggestive monument in Monteleone, because it has been witness of the most significative historical periods of the town.
Originally, the church was dedicated to Saint Maria or better Madonna dell’Assunta, but it has been always commonly known with the name of the poor of Assisi, since the early Franciscans settled there around 1280. The Franciscan order in Monteleone always used the Church for their functions and in every official act, a seal bearing the image of the Assumption abducted in heaven with the initials S (Which stands for Sanctae) and M (which stands for Mariae). Various frescoes decorate the church walls with devotional images probably painted by artists of the the Fourtheen Century Umbrian School

Church of St. Nicholas

The church is located at the highest point of the historical center; It dates back to the early Middle Ages, in fact the first documents date from 1310. It has a single nave with ten chapels with its own altars. The ceiling is coffered and covered with a tempera painted canvas with floral motifs. Among the several works of considerable value, we mention the decollation of St. John the Baptist between St. Anthony from Padova, St. Isidore and La Maddalena, attributed to the painter Giuseppe Ghezzi and the Annunciation, probably a work by Agostino Masucci.

Church of Santa Caterina

In 1310 five Augustinian nuns, coming from the Monastery of St. Catherine in Norcia, asked for a small church and a house in the lower part of Monteleone in order to build a monastery there. Both the house and the church were outside the circle of walls, and they had been built in 1265. The nuns remained there for almost five years. Of the eighteenth-century church, only the perimeter walls remain.

 

Church of Santa Caterina, photo by Enrico Mezzasoma

Church of Santa Maria de Equo

The interior of the church is typical of rural churches: in the center of the church there is an eighteenth-century altar, adorned with a wooden statue of the Madonna with Child; on the sides, inside two niches, there are the wooden statues of St. Peter and St. Paul. Along the left wall is the venerable Gilberto or Liberto, a hermit who lived here for many years.

 


Bibliography: L’Umbria si racconta. Dizionario E-O, Foligno 1982 di Mario Tabarrini.

From a symbol of martyrdom to that of marriage: the curious story of the Torcolo di San Costanzo.

Studying the first centuries of Christian cult, it is easier to come across the so-called historical martyrologists, in which the names of the saints and the place of their death were reported. Later, to these lists was added the life – of the martyr or of the confessor – and a description of the death: the undoubtedly most famous document is the Geronimian Martyrology.

 

San Costanzo

The Antonines and the anti-imperials

In this ancient document, compiled in Rome in the fourth century, the name of San Costanzo appears, one of the three patrons saint of the city of Perugia together with San Lorenzo and Sant’Ercolano. Traditionally celebrated on January 29th and therefore called “the saint of the great cold”, to indicate the low temperatures of the period. The first Christians were persecuted for their anti-imperial attitude, responsible for a rather tense civil climate, in short, for political crimes. This is the case of Constantius, the first bishop and protector of Perugia.
The consul Lucio made him immerse in a cauldron of boiling water, from which the future saint came out practically unharmed; after being taken to prison, he managed to escape by converting the keepers. Arrested again, he was condemned to beheaded, a penalty that was imposed around 170 in Foligno, in a place known as Il Trivio. It seems that in this area – called the Campaign of Saint Costanzo, there was a church dedicated to him, demolished in 1527.
After martyrdom, Costanzo’s remains were moved to a place called Areola, outside Porta San Pietro in Perugia, and there they found burial. The church, named after him, was consecrated in that area in 1205. It is in that same building that the unmarried girls, every 29 January, asked the image of the saint about their possibilities to get engaged and to marry.
It seems that, for particular games of refraction, the Saint winks at girls destined for marriage, but only to those unmarried and virgins. For the others there was a consolation prize, necessarily donated by the engaged couple: the Torcolo di San Costanzo.

 

La luminaria, photo by Umbria24

Forms that speak

The shape of this bundt cake, enriched with tasty as rare ingredients, candied citron, raisins, pine nuts, aniseed seeds, recalls a wedding ring; but other interpretations state that it represents the crown of flowers affixed to the reconstituted body of Constantius: a necklace of precious stones untied during the decapitation. For some scholars, the shape of a donut would have only facilitated transport during fairs and markets: you could put several “torcoli” along simple poles. And perhaps, it is no coincidence that San Costanzo, in the official iconography, is represented with a stick. A further interpretation assimilates the hole to the cut neck of the saint, while the five incisions on the surface, which reveal the precious composition, recall the five entrance doors of the city of Perugia. Five are also the gifts donated, every year, by the civil authorities.
Symbols of concord, the laurel wreath from the Municipal Police, the candle from the Mayor, the incense from the Parish Pastoral Council, the “holy wine” and the “torcolo of San Costanzo” from the local artisans, are offered before the traditional illumination inside the Basilica. To follow the Great Fair takes place in Borgo XX Giugno and, of course, the tasting of the delicious torcolo.

 

The recipe (by Rita Boini)

Ingredients:

500 g of flour

125 g of sugar

100 g of  olive oil

75 g of candied cedar made into small pieces

125 g of raisins

50 g of pine nuts

12 g of aniseed seeds

30 g of brewer’s yeast

A pinch of salt

 

Preparation:

Pour the flour on the pastry board, place inside the yeast dissolved in a little ‘warm water, knead the whole flour with warm water in sufficient quantity to obtain a dough from the consistency of the bread and place it in a terrine capable. Cover with a clean cloth and keep it in a warm place away from drafts, at least until the dough volume is doubled. Pour it on the pastry board and add the other ingredients. Work well and give it the shape of a donut, which you will place in a greased pan. Let rise for two to three hours, then bake at 180 °and cook for 40-45 minutes.

 

The torcolo of San Costanzo was consummated in Perugia on 29 January, in the Patron Saint’s day, Sometimes it was prepared at home, but more often it was bought from bakers, as this is a typical baking cake. The girls from Perugia used to give one, as a gift, to their boyfriend on this occasion. The custom of the torcolo of San Costanzo is still felt in the city and, even now, that it is on the market all year round, on 29 January bakeries and pastry shops are filled with torcoli. Other similar cakes are the torcolo of San Biagio, in Pianello, where it is prepared on the saint Patron’day: 3rd February saint is prepared and the torcolo of St. Joseph, which is consumed in Montone. It differs from the first two only because of the lack of aniseed and due to the fact that it is not consumed for the feast of the patron saint.

 


Sources:

www.stradadeivinicantico.com

www.turismo.comune.perugia.it

www.santiebeati.it

  1. Trotta, Diary (gastronomic) of Umbria, Perugia, Aguaplano, 2011.

Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary, 1764, in https://www.scribd.com/doc/98861647/Voltaire-Dictionary

Known by most as the town of the steel, as a working town, almost completely destroyed by the bombings, Terni still hides in itself a small treasure. The Universal Judgement, by Bartolomeo di Tommaso painter from Foligno and precursor to the Umbrian Renaissance, survived to the devastation of the Second World War. To jealously guard it, there are the walls of the Cappella Paradisi which opens at the end of the right nave of the Church of Saint Francis.

 

The cycle currently visible, is perhaps the most important pictorial witness of the Fifteenth century, yet its critical history began late. Indeed, the local historians could not speak about it until the Nineteenth century because the conventual monks, to whom the Church belonged, used that room as a warehouse for the convent’s wood and walled up the archway. The frescoes came to light again only in 1861, thanks to the work of the architect Benedetto Faustini.

A Controversial Attribution

Before the problem of the attribution, the critics faced the one of the controversial iconography. At first all the critics talked about illustration of the Divine Comedy. Actually, in 1872, Marino Guardabassi read in it «the deep concepts of Alighieri», and this reading seemed to be comforted by the attribution to Bartolomeo di Tommaso because the first printing production of the Dante’s Poem has been made in the town of Foligno.
In 1977 and 1978, Bruno Toscano and Pietro Adorno took care of the iconographic study, which having failed to find timely correspondence with the Dantesque Terzines, directed their research to another road which refers to the social and religious climate that the city lived in the mid-Fourteenth century and to the ties of the painter with the Franciscan Order and with Giacomo della Marca, travelling preacher. San Giacomo was certainly in Terni in 1444 and often preached in the Church of San Francesco against the vices he had observed. Terni, therefore lived under the spiritual guidance of this friar who one year later brought his oratory also to Foligno, profoundly influencing Bartolomeo di Tommaso.
It should be also considered that who commissioned the work in 1449 was Monaldo Parisi, a figure particularly linked to the Observance and the reform statutes that were wanted by San Giacomo.
Actually, the Last Judgement is a constant in the preaching of the friar, and one of the Sermones Dominicales, the De Judicio Extremo, seems to correspond step by step to the paintings of Bartolomeo di Tommaso, as if the painter had faithfully followed it by transforming the images into words. Thus Giacomo della Marca turns out to be the inspirational main source of the painter.

 

Universal Judgement

The decoration of the Paradisi Chapel lies in an imposing and terrible Universal Judgment. It begins in the entrance soffit with six quadrilobate frames framing the busts of the prophets who announced the return of Christ: Jeremiah, Daniel, Malachi, Isaiah, Jonah, and Abdia. Inside the Chapel, above the entrance arc, you will find two additional figures of semi lying prophets inserted in a woody and rocky landscape, the only naturalistic note of the fresco. The other walls are horizontally framed by a painted frame that divides them in half.
The action winds from left to right starting from the lower register where the space is divided into caves and a capital sin is assigned to each cave. Only five of those caves remain and in each of them there is an angel leaning forward his arms to the souls to lift them and point them upward.
In the upper register we find the figure of Christ with the red banner, darting figures are leaning towards the Christ.
Also in the central wall we find again the figure of the Son of God represented as Christ Judge in the Mandorla, sourrounded by the Baptist, by a Virgin with curiously oriental features, and three groups of angels and Patriarchs.
St. Peter opens the door of Paradise surrounded by the 12 apostles, Paul and Barnaba. Below the Archangel Michele, around him are the figures of the Chosen ones, among them a magistrate with the red cap is identified as Giovanni Paradisi, founder of the principals whose coat of arms is seen at the feet of the Archangel.
The wall on the right, however, is more damaged due to the fall of plaster. We can see the representation of the sinning souls falling to the hell pulled down by chains to the neck and violently struck by the angels that bring them into the spells. In the lower register a gigantic Satan stands framed by rings of fire. Some demons beside Satan give him the souls that he grasps and mauls. Fire springs are raining everywhere.

 


Bibliographic references: P. Mostarda in Arte e territorio. Interventi di restauro, Terni, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Terni e Narni, 2001

 

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Attics always hide great secrets. Sometimes you just have to look up and go up to find hidden treasures. The church of San Domenico is well known, but what has been hidden in its attic?

The attics of San Domenico, photo by engineer Alessandro Polidori

The tour between the attics

Few have ventured up there, but today we bring you to those rooms, thanks to engineer Alessandro Polidori who, together with architect Giulio Ser-Giacomi, wants to valorize this important site of Perugia. A place that will allow you not only to walk through the story, but also to enjoy a breathtaking panorama.
«The attics of San Domenico are a very special place, full of historic elements, each one deserving careful observations and reflections – explains Engineer Polidori -. Every single stone has something to tell. Not only a beautiful panorama to be seen from the top of the bell tower, climbing and walking on the extrados sometimes makes you realize how majestic and magnificent the 14th Century church could be.»
The vaults that you can admire today were built in the mid-sixteenth Century by Architect Carlo Maderno  who reconstructed them after the collapse of the early Gothic times, recreating them precisely as we see them today, with the exception of the lateral chapels, added in the 18th Century, and of the apsidal part of the church that had not collapsed: the choir and the four side chapels.
«The attic of San Domenico hides the signs of these modifications – continues the engineer – By visiting them you can observe the ancient medieval pillars emerging from the present vaults, the extraordinary shape of the capitals and the openings that once granted natural light».

 

Courtyard of San Domenico, photo courtesy of engineer Polidori

The project of valorization

To make this visible to the public, there is a project under formulation, which involves the creation of three possible routes. «We start with the basilica tour, then we will go to the sacristy, after admiring the reconstructions of the 14th Century plant thanks to Ugo Tarchi’s watercolors and, thanks to the air spaces , we will climb up to the height of the attic – illustrates Polidori – Above the vaults, the paths unwind between the two aisles’ vaults, the nave vault, the chorus’s one, the apsidal chapels’ ones and sacristy’s, and then go upstairs to the fifth floor of the bell tower: a real panoramic terrace overlooking the Umbrian valleys and an unusual and beautiful view of the historic center of Perugia.»
The idea of ​​valorization and visibility of the attic and bell tower came from various ideas and saw the friars working together, in particular Fr. Mario Gallian, from the early 1990’s, with architect Giulio Ser- Giacomi and the Cultural Center San Tommaso D’Aquino; then architects Ser-Giacomi and Maria Carmela Frate, who dealt with the restoration after the 1997 earthquake, and finally the latest proposal, with engineer Alessandro Polidori helped by architect Ser-Giacomi. For more than twenty years now, San Domenico has been the subjected to valorization projects..
«Someone has proposed to create a museum path in the attics – concluded Polidori – to show the true basilica’s “heart” and allow visitors to reach the highest point of the bell tower to enjoy a 360-degree panorama of Perugia. To do this, further work is needed to make these sites safe and accessible to the public, so that visits can be carried out in total safety and be accessible to everyone.»

 

san Domenico

San Domenico basilica photo courtesy of engineer Polidori

Invisible place

For now, a visit is only allowed during special events, as will happen on Saturday and Sunday from 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm thanks to the Invisible Places 2017 initiative, which will give everyone the chance to admire palaces, towers, attics, places of worship and industrial archeology sites closed to the general public. Among them there are the attics of the imposing church of San Domenico, secret spaces born almost by chance from a 17th Century renovation; a place that preserve the traces of the original Gothic church.

 

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A Day for Custody of Creation; a journalistic information forum to find new ways to narrate Creation; a path, along the Francis’ Way, to follow the steps taken by the Saint during the long and stiff winter of 1206. 
A tripartite celebration, from September 1st to 3rd, which has primarily the aim to spread sustainable tourism, but also to protect the cultural heritage and the landscape beauty in which these monuments, like us, are plunged. The common denominator is the Saint of Assisi, Italy and Ecologists Patron Saint: who better than Francis, who had wandered in these lands abducted by their magnificence and perfection, could have been the symbol of a renewed attention to the environment? 

Eremo di San Piero in Vigneto

Eremo di San Piero in Vigneto

The Pilgrimage

At its ninth edition, the 50 kilometers pilgrimage from Assisi to Gubbio is an opportunity to enter in the atmosphere of this celebration. It is, in fact, the route made by Francis after his dispossession, the gesture of the radical rejection of the comforts he had been used to, a sort of prelude of a rather symbolic clothing, not only because the bag that he will be gifted will become the symbol of his Order, but also because nudity will allow him to wear the Eden’s splendor, the emblem of an harmonious world.
It is precisely on this assumption that the path begins, articulated not only on the places the Saint actually visited, but also on the unique value they have had for the elaboration of his doctrine, borrowed from the beauty, simple and essential, of Creation.
Starting from Assisi, the first stop is in Pieve of San Nicolò and then in the Church of Santa Maria Assunta; then you will arrive at Biscina Castle and at the Church of Caprignone, where the Saint proclaimed itself, in front of some bandits, «the Herald of the Great King». After being beaten, Francesco found a shelter at the Abbey of Vallingegno, another stage of the pilgrimage, that we reach after having been supplied with drinking water at San Piero in Vigneto, a Benedictine hermitage similar to a fortification. In Vallingegno, Francesco was welcomed reluctantly, and he was reduced to a simple scullery boy; he will come back several times, testifying its love for animals.  
Undoubtedly, however, the most famous episode concerns the wolf, the beast that Francis managed to tame near Santa Maria della Vittorina, the last but one stage of the pilgrimage before the goal. Gubbio stands indeed not too far, among the silvery olive trees, ready to welcome the hikers in the Church of St. Francis, whose unfinished façade reflects the statue of the saint with the wolf, a character of primary importance in the definition of the holy figure.
But if every church and every corner of Assisi shines out of the aura of Francis, it is in Gubbio that the most significant biographical turns have taken place. Here Francesco worn the habit for the first time, here he found his friend Giacomo Spadalonga, a mate during the imprisonment in Perugia after the defeat of Collestrada. And it is always in Gubbio that the Bishop granted Franciscans their first cenobia, at least according to the proto-biographer Tommaso da Celano. 

 

I pellegrini arrivano a Santa Maria della Vittorina (edizione 2016)

Pilgrims arrive at Santa Maria della Vittorina (edizion 2016)

The Forum

A similar path, though dedicated to communication experts, is also the novelty of the annual Catholic Information Forum for Custody of the Creation. Starting from the new – and emblematic – Sanctuary of the Dispossession in Assisi, the forum will first reach the village of Valfabbrica, where will be presented the new Horse Slow Way (Ippovia), whose main aim is to improve this part of the route along the Francis’ Way. Indeed, is  many women and men, perhaps accompanied by trusted friends on a leash, had embarked on this route both on foot and by bicycle, the part dedicated to the equestrian tourism was not sufficiently valued so that they often encountered slippery asphalted tracts and scattered points of refreshment. Hence the idea of ​​strengthening the Horse Way – according to an integrated project between the municipalities of Valfabbrica, project leader, Assisi, Gubbio and Nocera Umbra, supported by Umbria Region and Sviluppumbria – with farriers, assistance and food refreshment points for riders and horses: the path from Gubbio to Assisi will stand as a symbol of slow tourism, a perfect way to enjoy the beauty of the landscape around us.
The Forum, organized by the Greenaccord Onlus Association, will then route to Gubbio where, among artistic and spiritual hot points, they will discuss the responsibilities of the Press on news sharing after the post-emergence, in order to help affected areas’ rebirth. Within this articulated dialogue, those journalists who have distinguished in the spreading articles on issues will be awarded the honorary title of “Creation Sentinel”. 

 

Pilgrims on horseback

Pilgrims on horseback

The Word Day of Custody of Creation

Each of these paths will find its epilogue on September 3rd, with the solemn liturgical celebration for the Creation Day, broadcasted live on Rai Uno. Travelers in God’s Land – the theme chosen for this twelfth edition – is nothing but the summit of the two experiences previously described. It is the perfect title of a story of inner growth, which is based on respect for the surrounding world; is the perfect prelude to the World Tourism Day of September 27th, which is also geared to sustainable tourism, one hundred percent. 

 


 

The article is promoted by Sviluppumbria, the Regional Society of Economic Development of Umbria