Montignano
The origins of the Castle of Montignano date back to 962 when Otto I of Saxony was crowned in Milan as Emperor of Germany and King of  Italy by Pope John XII and he immediately tried to gain the loyalty [...]
Villa San Faustino
The castle of Villa San Faustino was part of the Terre Arnolfe in the tenth and eleventh centuries (mentioned in documents of the abbey of Farfa 1115 and 1118). The castle, connected to the important parish chu [...]
Colpetrazzo
Castle built between 1300 and 1400, it still preserves its medieval structure. Of particular interest is the medieval main door near the small church of San Bernardino. Above the church of San Bernardino is sit [...]
Mezzanelli
The castle of Mezzanelli has followed the fortunes of the various rulers who handled its political life. Once part of Terre Arnolfe, the castle was cited in documents from 1115 and 1118 (Earls Ridolfo, Saraceno [...]
Castel Rinaldi
Medieval village built in 1160 by a certain "Rinaldo Duke of Calabria", Castel Rinaldi was part of the fief of the Arnolfi. Constantly part of Guelph, Castel Rinaldi was often the center of infighting that mark [...]
Viepri
The fortified village of Viepri is wrapped in high hills, which ensured defense for centuries and still seem to hide it. Built after 1380 on the ruins of the demolished castle of Monte Schignano, its rule was t [...]
Martani Mountains
The Martani Mountains extend evenly from south to north for about 35 km between the provinces of Perugia and Terni. They border to the east on the Umbrian Valley and Valserra, to the west on th [...]
Castelvecchio
The village is today very different from what must have appeared in the Middle Ages. Today only some ruins of the fortified village remain, hidden by vegetation. Literature attest it as one of the most [...]

San Faustino Abbey

The abbey of San Faustino was edified on the remains of a Roman villa. Recent excavations have digged out its foundations and some rooms that were used for storing agricultural products. The church is named after St Faustino who, according to the legend, was disciple of the bishop of Civitas Martana, St Felix. Around the 8th century the Benedictines edified, on the saint's tomb, the church and the nearby monastery. These are mentioned as subordinate of the monastery of Farfa in several documents dated 1115 and 1118. Afterwards the church was converted into collegiate church for the secular clergy. 

The façade, in the Lombard style but spoiled by a modern porch (1950), has an elegant mullioned window with three lights and marble small columns. Next to the window are, on the right side, an epigraph with the inscription of Lucius Julius Marcianus and his wife Publicia; on the left side, a fragment of Doric friezewith small roses and bucranes metopes. Another fragment of the same frieze, which was embeded in a wall under a court window, has been recently moved inside the church.

The right side of the church is built on a high base made of travertin blocks; several semicircular pillars line it at regular intervals. Also the 13th century apse is semicircular in shape.

The aisleless inside, has been much reworked. It might have originally had a raised presbytery with underlying crypt. In the middle of the apse are, buried, two sarcophagi, one of them is venerated as St Faustino's. There are also several sculptural fragments from different time periods and several inscriptions. Among them very interesting is the one which mentions the call from Pope Pio II in December 1462.

Inside is a fresco by the painter Sebastiano Florii da Arezzo, which portrays the Madonna of Rosary (1580). Worth noting are the simple and rustic structure of the rooms of the ex-Benedictine monastery and an early Middle Age architrave on which are rough engravings of doubtful meaning.

The elegant bell tower is a recent construction (1925); it harmonizes well, however, with the Romanesque style of the church.

 

 

SS Fidenzio e Terenzio Abbey

It is believed that, in the 11th century, the nobles of Massa wanted the abbey of SS Fidenzio and Terenzio to be erected. The oldest building, however, dates back to the 9th or 10th century, when a community of Benedictine monks established itself in the next monastery, and governed the abbey until the end of the 14th century. It was an important parish church, having many churches and castles under it.

The tithes registers show that in 1276 six monks lived there, ruled by a certain abbot Pietro. Afterwards the secular clergy replaced the Benedictine monks.

The church is named after the martyrs Fidenzio and Terenzio who, natives of Syria, left from Rome to spread the Christian religion. As they came to the territory of Todi, at the time of the Emperor Diocletian, they were taken prisoner and martyrized "in CivitateMartana, Tudertoproxima". Their corpses were then secretly buried in that very place where the church now stands. Long before, however, on their tomb an oratorium was probably erected, as shown by an inscription on a stone of the crypt: "BeatusFidentius et Terentius hic requiescunt", whose characters might be ascribed to the 7th, 8th centuries. Their remains were exhumed in 1629 by the cardinal Boncompagni and then transferred to Bassano di Orte.

During the 13th century the church underwent substantial restorations, which eventually gave it its present look.

The façade is made of squared stones in white and red rows; it has a simple portal with a round arch. Above it is a mullioned window with two lights with a small stone column.

On the left side there is a slender, quadrangular belltower, founded on a dodecagonal base made of big travertin blocks. The base has a large dome vault. It is probably a Roman mausoleum of the late Imperial Age.

The grand inside has a beautiful ceiling with decorated tiles, supported by Gothic arcades. A little further on the middle of the nave, a large flight of steps lets in a raised presbytery. In the middle is an ancient altar, made of a slab of travertin covering the martyrs‘ sarcophagus, adorned with four small corner columns of stone.

The back wall has three, tall splayed windows and is very interesting for the several sculptural pieces from the early Middle Ages reutilized for its reconstruction. The bas-reliefs having an unknown date and original function, represent twice-rutted skeins, several floral patterns, rough human and equestrian forms, and a set of architectural patterns.

In the apsidal area is a piece of fresco representing a Madonna with Child, attributed to Bartolomeo da Miranda.

On both sides of the stairs are two narrow passages to the crypt.

Over the left passage is an ambo made of two big slabs of engraved marmor: on the outward slab is a knotted squares pattern, filled with flowers, grapes, helixes and lilied apexes, on the other one is a twice-rutted ribbon shaping big loosen knots, a pattern that, also for its irregular shape, can be traced back to the 9th century.

 

Curiosity: San Benedetto was born in Norcia around 480 AD, in a historical period characterized by invasions, wars and destruction. He moved to Rome to complete his studies, and he saw the decadence of the Eternal City and, horrified, he withdrew into the silence of the woods of the upper Aniene valley.

The solitary life, devoted to prayer and penance, surprise the community of the area and the monks of Vicovaro proposed to Benedetto to join them.

Shortly the moral rigor and the iron discipline of Benedetto arouse envy of his companions who tried to poison him.

Disappointed by the behavior moved to Subiaco where he became the spiritual leader of a small monastery which was organized by him in a new form of monastic life.

Due to some misunderstandings with his disciples, he left Subiaco and move to Cassino. Here in 529 founded the monastery of Monte Cassino. He composed “La Regola”, a complex document with a prologue and seventy-three chapters, destined to become the benchmark of Western monasticism and to be adopted by all European monasteries.

In the famous sentence ora et labora condenses the Benedictine message that combined two aspects of human life, the spiritual and the material. Punctuated by alternating between prayer and work, the existence of the monks, by virtue of stabilitas loci, was to take place within the walls of the monastery.

The Benedictines carried out an intense activity of assistance and development to populations: reclaiming swamps, clearing forests, cultivating the land.

A big contribution was due to the Benedictines in the cultural sphere: in the monasteries there was also responsible for transcription of old books, often accompanied by precious miniatures. Benedetto died at Monte Cassino around 547. Pope Paolo VI, in 1964, proclaimed him the saint of Europe.

Santa Maria di Viepri Abbey

Near Viepri stands the Abbey of Santa Maria. It was built around 1150 by the Lords of Castelvecchio. At the beginning of the 13th century it became the parish church of destroyed castle of Monte Schignano. An interesting example of Romanesque architecture, in time it underwent various interventions. The abbey was built using material from abandoned Roman buildings. On the simple gabled facade opens a portal surmounted by a lancet window and stands what remains of a sturdy bell tower, mutilated, it seems, by a lightning.

The great square tower was subsequently incorporated in the adjacent building. Along the outer walls of the abbey are incorporated a number of interesting and sculptural fragments of Roman and early medieval age. The semicircular apses have the characteristic crowning arches and pilasters on shelves, common to the Romanesque churches of Umbria. The interior is spacious and divided into three naves, separated by solid pillars without capitals, ending in three apses. It is covered by cross vaults supported by transverse arches, but it is plausible to assume that originally presented the usual wooden roof trusses. Although the abbey is free from the crypt below the chancel is slightly raised above the floor of the nave. 

 

Itineraries

The Via Flaminia Vetus…between Rome and the Middle Ages
Km 6,5 – itinerary feasible by bicycle or motor vehicle. This is the itinerary that best describes Massa Martana and its peculiarities. It covers the area south of the village and follows the ancie
Historical and artistic buildings not included in the itineraries
Chiesa di Sant’illuminata
Historic and Naturalistic itinerary on the occidental flanks of the Martani Mountains
8,4 km – by car, 5,3km trekking. This itinerary is a  trekking along the western slope of the mountain Monte Castro,  a relief above Massa Martana. From the town of Massa Martana [...]

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