Cividale del Friuli and the mysterious Natisone valleys

To melt, it was nothing less than Julius Caesar. And this particular historical event owes the name of the whole region. We are talking about Cividale del Friuli, to which the Roman Emperor gave the name of Forum Iulii: from here comes the name Friuli, which together with the Venezia Giulia gives life to one of the fascinating regions of entire Italy. In 568 A.D. Cividale became the seat of the first Lombard duchy in Italy and later, for several centuries, the residence of the Patriarchs of Aquileia. Today, after many centuries, Cividale still retains significant Lombard testimony from the Tempietto, one of the most extraordinary and mysterious high-medieval western architecture. How not to mention, then, the Devil’s Bridge, the Duomo, and the Christian Museum? This historical and artistic heritage in 2011 has been recognized by UNESCO, which placed Cividale at the beginning of the Lombard route in Italy in an itinerary that allows you to discover beautiful treasures starting from Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Behind Cividale, for those wishing to spend a few more hours in these parts, the Natisone Valleys are a mysterious land hidden among the Julian Prealps. Four narrow, still-looking, wild valleys, with streams flowing steeple between Forres, Between one valley and another, a few dozen small towns with typical stone houses and churches of the fifteenth century, but also educational nature centers. The old link with Italy has not erased the original language and culture, which are Slovenian and enrich these lands with legends and traditional festivals.

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From Pandino to Pizzighettone, the fortified citadels of the Cremonese

The lands of Cremona closed between the Duchy of Milan and Venice, have been for many centuries zones of war between opposing factions including Visconti and Sforza against the Serenissima, Spaniards against French, French against Austrians. And so there are many fortified citadels that, even today, tell stories to discover. One of these is the case of the castle Visconteo of Pandino, built as a hunting lodge by Bernabò Visconti in 1355 and characterized by imposing defensive towers, which contains beautiful medieval decorations almost wholly preserved. In Pizzighettone, defended by a fortified wall perfectly intact and 2 km long, it is possible to discover a real “city of War”: The volunteers of the walls, every Saturday and Sunday, lead to the discovery of the wall circle that now preserves a museum. Finally, don’t miss Soncino, Cittadella Murata, dominated by the Rocca Sforzesca of 1473. The wall circle hides a medieval village among the most beautiful in Italy. Strolling through its alleys, you can visit churches Rich in works of art and the Museum of the press with its collections of vintage machinery.

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The Monumental cypress grove of Salisano

Salisano, a pretty village in the province of Rieti, preserves a real natural treasure: the Monumental cypress grove. It is an extraordinary cypress forest of the “Horizontalis” variety, whose original plant dates back several hundred years ago. Within this fascinating forest formation, there is a path that starts about 1.6 km from Salisano (Ri), just beyond the intersection between Via Montefalcone and Via Dell’Uccelatore, and climbs up to the summit of Monte Ode (968m ). From this Mount, you can enjoy a beautiful panorama that spans 360 degrees from Mount Soratte to the Sabine Mountains, from the Reatini Mountains to the Lucretili, up to the highest peaks of the Abbruzzesi Mountains. The trail, which follows in large part a CAI route (white-red signs), holds the Fosso dei Cipressi on the right and is equipped with handy documentary panels relating to the history, flora, and fauna of the area prepared by the Apidienus association. From the top of Mount Ode it is possible to proceed east towards Colle Pozzoneve (961 m), go down the whole grassy ridge to an altitude of 760 m and then turn right into the oak wood and take a cart track that leads back to the starting point for the “Via Dell’Uccellatore”.

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In Sicily discovering the churches of Caccamo

Caccamo, one of the most beautiful villages in the province of Palermo, has some of its most prestigious jewels in the churches. We can start our tour from the Church in Santa Maria degli Angeli, with its stone portal of the central entrance dominated by a niche where you can admire a high-relief in marble of the XVI century which depicts the Virgin and Child of unknown author. The Church preserves inside a splendid Madonna and Child by Antonello Gagini, dating back to 1516 and decorations with episodes from the life of Dominican saints. In the neighborhood of Curcuraccio, in 1510, the Archbrotherhood of Saints Michael and Biagio built the homonymous Church, whose altarpiece painted on canvas depicting the Madonna of the Angels with the Child between Saints Michele and Biagio adorned the main altar. Fascinating and mysterious is the history of the Church of the Apostles Filippo and Giacomo, which rises on the edge of the stream Canalotto. The Church of ancient origins preserves inside the effigy of a miraculous wooden Crucifix highly venerated by the population: an old tradition is that the author of the work was the same as St. Luca, who carved the Crucifix directly into the trunk of a tree. The last stop of the tour is the Church of San Benedetto alla Badìa, a church dating back to eighteenth-century: It is of rectangular plan with a single nave without the dome, it has the main altar representing the chapel of a female convent for young girls of wealthy families.

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Campo Tassullo and the ancient Church of Santa Lucia

Campo is one of the four Villas of Tassullo (Trento) and is on the road that connects the town to Nanno, in a place where once there was a cemetery or a holy field, where the Villa would have received its denomination. Here it is worth visiting the church of Santa Lucia, mentioned for the first time in 1448; this evocative place of worship seems to date back to the Romanesque period, with the bell-shaped façade that faces east towards the street; here you can see the full-sixth portal in Pink Stone and a rococo window instead of the central rosette. The interior is a single nave and ends with a small pentagonal presbytery; the central oil painting depicts Saint Lucia with the symbology of martyrdom while the altar, in carved and painted wood, has a beautiful ornate leather antependium.

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The Gothic charm of the San Vigilio Church in Tassullo

The San Vigilio Church in Tassullo (Trento) dates back to the end of the fifteenth century and keeps its particular Gothic style intact. Originally the church was dedicated to the Anauniensi Martyrs. A boundary wall delimits the ancient cemetery of this Church. It has a bell-shaped façade enriched by a pointed rose stone portal with multi-cords decorations and a circular marble rosette. Down three steps you are in the single nave entrance that ends with the hexagonal presbytery. On the left wall of the priesthood, it is possible to admire a painting by S. Vigilio with the coat of arms of the Thun (1495); in the middle wall, there is the crucifixion, while on the right wall the Madonna enthroned with the Child. The church housed the marvelous wooden altar – now kept by the Diocesan Museum of Trento. The work is dated April 5, 1520, and has the shape of a Gothic triptych with two movable doors that bear various representations (S. Lorenzo, S. Maria Maddalena) and on the back symbols of the Passion and the Tabarelli crest of Fatis.

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http://www.fuoriporta.org/itinerari/campo-tassullo-lantica-chiesa-santa-lucia/

Discovering Cetona from prehistory to the present day

Cetona, nestled among the gentle Tuscan hills and surrounded by greenery, belongs to the prestigious club of the most beautiful villages in Italy and is known in particular for two reasons. First of all for the specific Museum dedicated to prehistory, and secondly for the Archaeological Park Naturalistic of Belverde, where you can visit some of the caves where the first men lived from the Paleolithic to the Bronze Age. This stretch of Tuscany, in fact, was inhabited already in ancient times at the Etruscan and Roman times, while during the Middle Ages Cetona was fortified by Siena: the Rocca, three doors and remarkable remains of the Sienese walls can still be visited. A large and enchanting square welcomes the tourists hiding from the eyes the alleys of the historic center, to go all in one breath to the beautiful Rocca overlooking the village and which, dating back to the 10th century, is probably the oldest part of the town. Here in Cetona the Collegiate Church – which owes its unique charm to the presence of several architectural styles – the Convent of San Francesco and the Romitorio, set in a particular natural setting, are also worth a visit.

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verde a Cervaro

Santa Maria Maggiore, the oldest church in Cervaro

The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is the oldest and most important religious monument of Cervaro, a lovely village located in the region of Lazio, in the province of Frosinone. It is a real historical monument of architecture and culture, with simple essential lines. Not only nowadays, but also in its long past, it has always been the “matrix church“, that is matrix, of the town, as we read in a plaque from the 12th century still visible underneath a stone font: “hecest sola matrix Cervarii“, can be read, or “this is the only (church) matrix of Cervaro”.

The building stands where the ancient Pesculum takes its place from the eastern side, near the medieval ruins of the Borgo and Castello, from which start via Trocchio, via Municipio, via Sobborgo and via XXIV Maggio. The front facade of the castle is clad in square-faced stones, up to the vault, with a stucco-decorated pediment; the portal is instead quadrangular, surmounted by an important composite stone cornice.

Inside, the church contains elegant stucco decorations and fake quadrangular columns; the dome is located at the main altar and houses bas-reliefs depicting the four cardinal virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortress, Temperance. It also welcomes an artistic wooden crucifix of the ‘600. The polychrome marble altar, of the baroque style, fortunately, did not suffer any demolition after the reform of the Second Vatican Council, which sanctioned the essentiality of the aisle. Other elements of merit are the choir, with graceful carvings on old wood and the pulpit.

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Castiglion del Terziere, a small jewel of Lunigiana

Located on a hillock to the left of the Magra, Castiglion del Terziere is one of the most evocative villages in the whole of Lunigiana, a fascinating area between upper Tuscany and Liguria. Here is the Castle dating back to the 6th-7th century: characterized by a solid quadrangular tower, it was a typical medieval fortress dating back to before the year 1000 and was renovated in 1351 by Franceschino Malaspina, who obtained its lordship. Its period of supreme importance and development coincided with the domination of Castruccio Castracani, Lord of Lucca, who established a stronghold here intending to bring together the Lunigiana, Garfagnana, Lucca, and Versilia in a single state. The ancient church dates back to the mid-sixteenth century, but was abandoned in 1783 because it was unsafe: some ruins can still be seen, including the foundations – visible in some places – and ancient objects such as two holy water fonts, some altars, the baptismal font, and some tombstones. On the site of the ancient church, there are today the war memorial and the old bell tower. The new church, also dedicated to San Leonardo abbot, was built immediately afterward, driven by Giovanni di Girolamo Corbellari and the parish priest Don Michele Pedroni, and was completed in 1787.

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The Malconsiglio Castle and the conspiracy of the barons

The Malconsiglio Castle is one of the most famous manors in Southern Italy and takes its name from an episode that took place on 1 October 1481. Belonging to the Sanseverino family, the Malconsiglio Castle in Miglionico (Matera) stands on top of a cliff from which you can enjoy a splendid view of the Bradano valley. Its name derives from the conspiracy organized within it, against Ferdinand I of Aragon, King of Naples, by the barons of the kingdom: all ended with the bloody massacre of the barons in the great hall on the first floor. Today the castle appears to the tourists, with its shape of a parallelogram flanked by seven square or circular towers. It is built on two levels, with a gallery that dates back to a restructuring commissioned by the Revertera in 1600. The most original part is the Sala Della Stella also named Sala Degli Spiriti, whose niches carved into the walls guarded the treasures of its inhabitants: jewels, documents, valuable books and coins. The local assumed this particular denomination to scare off any bad guys. In the antechamber of this hall was consummated, the “ius primae noctis,” a feudal privilege which consisted in making every bride spend the first night following the wedding with the baron.

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