BLACK AND WHITE STONE STRIPES ON A RARE MEDIEVAL MONUMENT ON LAKE COMO SHORES (GRAVEDONA, ITALY)

 

© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

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Gravedona is a nice town on Lake Como (Italy). A really stunning medieval monument rises along the banks, a few meters from lake waters. It’s a rare church, Santa Maria del Tiglio, Saint Mary of the Lime-tree (in fact, behind the monument, close to the lake shore, you may see some of these beautiful trees).

Its architectural design was created by the famous “Maestri Comacini” (Comacini Masters). It is an example of the romanesque period in Como dated around the second half of XII Century. It is built over a former baptistry (V Century) dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

Unique in its kind, it was built with black and white stones on which raised symbols can be read. Pilasters, vaulted arches, arrow slits, embrasures, profiles and string courses on the windows, columns, arcades, apses and oculi express “Maestri Comacini” inspiration and creativity. Inside the church – where you breath an enchanting atmosphere – some of the grey stones bring frescos (made between XIV and XV Century) as “St. John the Baptist”, “The Wise Men”, “The Holy Trinity”, “The Adoption of the Wise Men”, and an episode from the “Life of St. Julian”. Also of great iconographic interest is the fresco “The Day of Judgement”, with Giottesque traces to be seen. Beside the church, you have to visit the beautiful crypt, with an extraordinary serie of columns, dated from XII century and built on a pre-existing Palaeo-Christian basilica.

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(HE)ART PLACES / THE NIGHT (AND THE SILENCE) IN THE FASCINATING MEDIEVAL TUSCANY VILLAGE

© Photos by ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

The historical centre of Abbadia San Salvatore (Siena, Tuscany, Italy) is a well kept medieval fortress-village, where you may walk through incredible narrow streets and squares, all built with the local grey stone.

The castle of Abbadia is first mentioned in a document dating to 1203, which shows that the community came under the aegis of a communal hierarchy headed by a Podestà, under the political control of Orvieto. A few years later, the strenght and power of this communal organization are described in the “bill of freedom” (“Carta delle libertà”) granted in 1212 to communal chancellors by the Abbot of the San Salvatore monastery.

The pattern of settlements in the area of Abbadia was defined around the mid-XII Century, when under the pressure of external threats, the local population, up until then scattered over the surrounding countryside, came together within one large fortified settlement.

The Abbey and all the Medieval centre are telling us how Abbadia San Salvatore was important in the past. All its area is rich in history and traditions, that to a great extent can be found in documents in the old archive belonging to the monastery dedicated to the Saviour. The archive contains many references to the importance and power of the Abbey.

In Abbadia we may also admire the Servadio Theatre (1873), a tiny but fascinating place. It was built thanks to the initiative of the Carli and Gragnoli families; it is dedicated to Giacomo Servadio (XIX Century) a Florentine member of Italian Parliament, banker, musician and theatre producer. Between the end of XIX Century and the beginning of the XX, the building was the seat of a friendly Society of the workers of Abbadia, where in XIX Century quicksilver mines began their activities, now closed and presented in a museum.

A RARE MEDIEVAL MONUMENT ON THE LAKE COMO SHORES

I been in Gravedona, nice village on the Lake Como  (Italy). There, I had the way to continue my journey through Italian medieval monuments. An incredible sign of medieval times is found along the banks, a few meters from lake waters. It’s a rare church, Santa Maria del Tiglio, Saint Mary of the Lime-tree. In fact, behind the monument, close to the lake ‘s shore, you may see some of this beautiful trees.

Its architectural design was made by the famous “Maestri Comacini”. It is an example of the roman period around Como dated around the second half of XII century. It is built over a former baptistry (V century) dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

Unique in its kind, it was built with black and white stones on which raised symbols can be read. Pilasters, vaulted arches, arrow slits, embrasures, profiles and string courses on the windows, columns, arcades, apses and oculi express “Maestri Comacini” inspiration and creativity.

Inside the church – where you breath an enchanting  atmosfere – some of the grey stones bring frescos (made between XIV and XV century) as “St. John the Baptist”, “The Wise Men”, an “Holy Trinity”, “The Adoption of the Wise Men”, an episode of the “Life of St. Julian”. Also of great iconographic interest is the fresco of “The Day of Judgement”, with Giottesque traces to be seen.

Beside the church, you have to visit the beautiful crypt, with an extraordinary serie of columns, dated from XII century and built on a pre-existing Palaeo-Christian basilica.

COLORED STRIPES IN THE MEDIEVAL VILLAGE WHERE THE POSTAL SERVICE WAS BORN

 

I recently had the way to visit one of the most beautiful Italian medieval villages, Cornello dei Tasso (Bergamo). In the ancient church (XII Century) I saw incredible frescos. I was attracted and fascinated by colored fresco stripes on the walls (XV-XVI Century). They are really cool and they have an incredible modern touch. They are signs and signals comin’ from the past; they tell us the universal language of colors. Here, in this page, I show some pictures.

The church (dedicated to Saints Cornelio and Cipriano) where I saw the frescoed stripes, dominates the village from on high, with its bell tower with mullioned windows, beautiful example of Romanesque architecture. It has undergone considerable changes from its original 12th-century structure over the centuries, and it is one of the elements of greatest interest in the village.

The most interesting aspect brought to light by restoration work is the magnificent fresco cycle covering the interior walls of the Tasso noble chapel, painted in the 15th-16th century. It shows a variety of themes, and an excellent execution. Considerable variation in style – as the colored stripes – can be seen in the different panels of the fresco.

The figures of St. George, St. Vincent, St. Stephen and St. Agatha are well-painted; the Adoration of the Magi is admirable; but the finest of all is the panel of the Miracle of St. Giles, protector of farriers, a scene of considerable historical interest for its depiction of settings, clothing and tools from the period.

 Little, but important village. We may say that here was “invented” the postal service. According to documents, Cornello is the home of Omodeo Tasso and other members of this “postmaster” family. Mail was first carried on foot, and later the service was improved with use of horses, dispatch riders, and mail coaches. The Tasso family organized itself into a private company, the Compagnia dei Corrieri, and through its various branches, it succeeded in obtaining contracts for handling mail first in the Republic of Venice and, later, in the 1400-1500s, in the Papal States, in the State of Milan, and in all the lands of Europe dominated by the Hapsburg empire. The family Tasso – this surname gave origin to the same word of “taxi” – still survives at nowadays in the german Thurm und Taxis family.

Cornello dei Tasso is one of the villages in the province of Bergamo that has best preserved its medieval structure. At one time the village was the center of trade with the Valtellina along the Via Mercatorum, and it had an important market. At the end of the 1500s its commercial fortune began to decline. Its centuries of isolation helped preserve the original layout of the village, which is characterized by the superimposing of four levels of buildings. In the lower part, a number of buildings are aligned horizontally, overhanging the Brembo river , which show the original fortified character of the village. On the upper level there is the street with porticos, topped by stone arcades, covered by a wooden beam ceiling and paved with cobblestones.

 In the pics: the fresco stripes and a street with porticos in Cornello dei Tasso (Italy).