If you can pronounce this right you will be eligible for italian citizenship!……..lol……. Funny as it might seems, this place left us breathless. The little village is so neat, calm, peaceful, well cared for, the air so fizzy (after all the village is located at 1400 mt) and the people we met there, so so so nice! It was one of the best places we visited while in Abruzzo and we still have beautiful images in our eyes…and as always, more often than not, hubby is in lots of my photos….
From historic sources the foundation of Pescocostanzo dates back at the X century, and since than the village has always been predominant on the surrounding centers in the area, however having turbulent relationships with feudal lords and the local Clergy. The devastating earthquake in 1456 presented the conditions to the vilage to change its urban arrangement, with the massine help of Lombard workforce. This unusual event left its print in the cultural and social environment, such as the ambrosian rite for baptisms still being celebrated in the Church of Santa Maria del Colle. Under the dominion of Ferdinando I of Aragon, since 1464, Pescocostanzo was granted the direct submission by the crown and this allowed for many privileges. At that time the village was held by a highly educated and economically strong social class that provided the community with common comfort and an efficient administration.
The turning point was in 1774 when Pescocostanzo redeemed itself becoming a “Universitas Sui Domina” ( literally, a city master of itself) a motto still written on the city coat of arms. This period witnessed a flourish of jurisprudence, philosophy, history, mathematics and literature studies, with a strong cult of all arts. To prove this, the huge amount of old books in public libraries and in old families houses, and the many artistic buildings in town, due to the fertile economy and the high level of education of the city ruling class.
What it is now the Church of Santa Maria del Colle (St. Mary of the Hill) at first was a XI century temple, subordinated to the Abbey in Montecassino, built in the outskirts of the village. The temple was destroyed by the 1456 earthquake and rebuilt in 1466 in the bigger and flourishing city center. Originally it had three aisles with three spans each, but in 1556 works were permitted to renovate it to five aisles with four spans each as it can be seen today, and a new renaissance facade overlooking a wide terrace (now not used anymore). In 1580 the roman-gothic portal was moved to the north side above a flight of stairs.
The inside is mainly in stone, brighten up by the wooden religious ornaments, carved, coloured and gold-plated, the staues, the pulpit, the choir, the altars. The most interesting aspect of the Church are the five coffering ceilings, carried out between 1670 and 1682, but finished only in 1742. The antepediums (the front panel of the altars) and the baptismal font are the only ornaments made of marble.
The majestic wrought iron gate leading to the “Cappellone”, as it is called the Sacrament Chapel, is from 1699 and the vault is decorated with a fresco by Giambattista Gamba.
It was really a surprise to find such a magnificent Church in such a small village, but on a second tought, all the village is really charming, like the cloister adjoining a little Church (now a gallery) still held by monks (one of them wash washing the paving, but stepped aside to le me take a better photo!)……….
or Palazzo Fanzago, since 1624 a nunnery and now a museum and a school of bobbin lace……(the niches are where the windows should be, but being born as a cloisterd nunnery, no windows on the outside world)
or palazzo Grilli built in the last decade of 1600….
or so many other corners that unexpectedly crossed our path….
Here – your head humbly down – here, passer-by, stop – Here you can find the source of all Graces – the Mother of God – admire her, cry and pray – that she can’t deny a grace to whom adore her. (on the stairs to Santa Maria del Colle)