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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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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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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Castelli Sabina_Fuoriporta

From Savelli to the Orsini, among the castles of the Sabina

Let’s discover the castles of the beautiful Sabina area between the provinces of Rome and Rieti! Famous today for its uncontaminated nature and the production of one of the most renowned olive oil in Italy, but a theater of critical historical events witnessed precisely by these fortresses.

A path that can only start from the slopes of the Lucretili Mountains and, in particular, from the Savelli Castle which represents the pride of Palombara Sabina. It is difficult, however, to remain indifferent to his large halls, the frescoes of the school of Raphael and the ancient Greek statues. Worth a visit: the Archaeological Museum, which houses a beautiful statue of Zeus dating back to the 1st century BC, the hanging garden and “il soccorso,” a long tunnel with 37 loopholes once used by crossbowmen to pass from the tower to the fortress without being seen.

Not far from Palombara, it is possible to admire one of the most considerable examples of Lombard “castrum.” The ruins of Castiglione, which dominate from a panoramic position a valley characterized by dense terraced olive trees. And always a few kilometers away here is the abandoned town of Stazzano Vecchio, known as one of the “ghost towns” of Lazio, with its Orsini Castle. Continuing in the direction of Farfa, a few kilometers from the famous Abbey, it is possible to see the ruins of Roccabaldesca. The journey through the castles of the Sabina can only end in Nerola and its perfectly preserved Romanesque-medieval castle: defended by a wide moat and four large corner towers. Inside you can admire the vast halls and you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding valley.

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 Marsciano racconta la sua storia con il Museo del laterizio

La città del laterizio non poteva che ospitare un Museo dedicato a questa arte antica che affonda le sue radici nella notte dei secoli.  Il Museo dinamico del laterizio e delle terrecotte di Marsciano non è solo uno spazio espositivo, quanto piuttosto un viaggio alla scoperta di meravigliosi oggetti fabbricati con materie prime povere: la terra e l’acqua cotte con il fuoco. Un’attività che in questo tratto della provincia di Perugia si pratica da sempre: il laterizio rappresenta una sorta di filo rosso della storia cittadina, non solo di quella urbanistica ed edilizia, ma anche di quella dei rapporti commerciali ed economici, delle famiglie imprenditoriali, della stratificazione sociale.

A fare il resto è la splendida location che ospita il museo, Palazzo Pietromarchi, una residenza nobiliare costruita nel Trecento dalla famiglia dei conti Bulgarelli di Marsciano. Grazie a un finanziamento del Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali, il Comune di Marsciano lo ha completamente ristrutturato: nei suoi locali ha sede il Museo e si tengono una serie di iniziative e attività culturali che fanno del Palazzo il fulcro dell’offerta culturale di tutto il territorio. Il Museo, infatti, fa dei laterizi e delle terrecotte il centro di una rete di relazioni che lo configurano come un vero e proprio istituto culturale, capace di promuovere iniziative scientifiche sul tema delle produzioni fittili, di diffonderne l’uso, di definirne l’evoluzione tecnica, collocandola tra tradizione e innovazione, di costruire intorno una diffusa attività didattica ed esperienze di marketing territoriale.

Nel Palazzo è inoltre esposta una Madonna in trono con Bambino con gli angeli, San Silvestro e San Rocco di ambito del Pinturicchio, databile intorno al 1500. Completa l’offerta artistica una selezione delle opere dello scultore marscianese Antonio Ranocchia (1915-1989), mentre il biglietto acquistato a Palazzo Pietromarchi è valido anche per la visita all’Antenna Museale di Spina.