Visso – Umbria experience #2

11 Jul

We drove to the border between Umbria and Marche, to visit the little village of Visso….along the road that leads to the Sibillini Mountains…..

According to tradition, the first settlement was called “Vicus,” meaning “place” or “village,”  accompanied by the adjective “Elacensis,” “respectable”. Obviously, like many others old villages in Italy, we entered Visso through an old gate….

This “pearl” of the Sibillini Mountains (it is the seat of a national park) boasts a past rich in history: the imposing city walls, the medieval balconies, the houses, the towers, the noble Renaissance buildings, the stone portals embellished with Latin inscriptions and coats-of-arms, in relation to the limited size of the historic centre, come together in a harmonious and majestic whole. The artistic marvels concentrated in this small area are such that one must agree with the great art historian André Chastel:  “in the scenographic placement of piazzas and cities, the Italian genius had no rivals.”

That’s the case of Visso’s Piazza dei Martiri Vissani, where all is order, light, and harmonious lines

The piazza is lined with elegant 15th- and 16th-century buildings and distinguished by two pre-eminent edifices: the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria and the Church of Sant’Agostino. The façade of the Church of Sant’Agostino (14th century) includes three spires with a portal and a rose window. Now deconsecrated, it is the seat of the Museum, which houses works belonging to the commune and the Church, the majority of which were located in various churches throughout Visso. The museum also preserves the manuscripts of six idylls by Giacomo Leopardi, including the famous “L’Infinito.”

The Santa Maria collegiate church’s original structure, in Gothic-Romanesque style, dates to the 12th century.  It is dominated by an elegant bell tower with mullioned windows and embellished by a finely worked 14th-century portal on its facade, flanked by two proud lions. The lunette contains a splendid 15th-century fresco depicting the Annunciation, attributed to Paolo da Visso.

The interior has one nave, quite transformed in ‘600, still preserves several frescoes of Umbria-Marche school of the fourteenth century, including a St. Christopher, more than 6 meters high. Also there are the wooden group of the Madonna and Child, thirteenth-century, in a niche, a work by Giovanni Di Pietro said The Spanish. The ceiling, in wooden Baroque, was completed in 1743, showing paintings byGiuseppe Manzoni. In the Romanesque chapel of the Baptistery there are preserved remains of the original church, dating from the twelfth century, capitals, reliefs, and a font. According to a legend in the sacristy it’s hidden one of the 30 coins of Judas.

Among the many remarkable buildings are the Palazzo dei Priori, the Governor’s Palace and the Palazzo del Divino Amore (the “Divine Love” building, converted from a 13th-century Franciscan convent and today the home of the Sibillini Mountains National Park board), enriching this village which seems to have been embroidered into the stone.

The Palace of the Governors was built in the early fourteenth century, as the seat of the Podesta, and remodeled in 1579 by order of the governor Nicholas Benni, who laid the headquarters of the governorate. On the arches of the portico, emblems of a pontiff, a governor of the city and of other personalities. On the arch side on the right is the coat of arms of the families Savelli – Orsini (two lions, a dove and the earth); on the edge of the left the one of Bishop Mariano Savelli (two lions, a dove and asnake), governor of Camerino.

The building below was a very old Augustinian monastery, because it is listed in the code of Pelosius (1393) “Monasterium S. Jacobi de Visso” and then from the pastoral visit of Eroli in 1456. At this time the observance of the rule had somewhat weakened, so the Bishop of Spoleto ordered it to be a Cloistered Nuns Monastery, imposing that the guesthouse was isolated from iron grates.
In the sixteenth century the monastery was flourishing, as evidenced by the reconstruction of the Church which has a beautiful Renaissance portal in stone. It is accessed by a small staircase side. The portal consists of two fluted pilasters on high plinths with a rose at the center, with Doric capitals. They support the entablature and a triangular pediment enclosing the door arch. On the frieze it reads: SACELLUM DIVO JACOBO DEDICATUM (a cahpel dedicated to St. James) The nuns in the ‘800 left the monastery and moved with the entire archive of St. James in Porto d’Ascoli.

The church of St. Francis was built in the late ‘300 in Romanesque-Gothic style, in the place where there was, since 1216, a church dedicated to St. Biagio. The church of St. Francis is attached to a convent built in 1291. The convent was inhabited by the Franciscans until the Napoleonic suppression, after which it passed to the nuns of the hospital of the St. Trinity. The façade is enriched by a magnificent Gothic portal trilobate, carved with large leaves. At the top of the facade there is a rosette made of ten columns twisted with two intersecting arches. Inside there are remarkable objects of historical and artistic value, including a fresco by Paolo da Visso, an organ of the ‘700 and a majestic walnut pulpit of the’ 600.

Beside churches and historical buildings, a stroll through the village it’s really a nice one…narrow alleys (can you see my three road companions?)……

perched houses….

a “promenade” along the river Nera where to walk all around the village….

old balconies, artistic or in bloom….

and fountains and walled passages….

This was another cherished memory added in my personal portfolio under the file name of “beautiful places”…

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Posted by on July 11, 2015 in Uncategorized


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