Fresh air in a Medieval town – A day off in Spoleto

Italian summer is…Italian summer! Means ice creams, “granita al limone”, sea and…40 degrees at shadow! When high temperature don’t wanna give us a’s time to shelter from sun!
I’m talking about getting deeper into central Italy, inside green Umbria region to find fresh breeze on rocky uplands.

teatro Spoleto theatre

A refreshing experience for brain and soul!  Spoleto is a Medieval jewel – as lots of other villages in this area – set among Valnerina’s emerald green woods.
This people-oriented town is a crisp cocktail of history and charm. Perfect to visit in just one day walking with a self-made-guidebook and enough curiosity!

Pills of history we love most ❤ :

towerFirst human settlements go back to Prehistory, when this landscape looked a lot different: the valley, today overlooked by Rocca Albornoziana was initially a lake that definitively dried out during Medieval age.

spoleto village umbria

towerMiddle Age has been Spoleto’s Golden Age, when, in 1359, Pope Innocenzio VI built the majestic fortress symbol of the city : “Rocca Albornoziana”. But this castle also tells about Lucrezia Borgia, elected by her father, Pope Alessandro VI, head of “Spoleto Dukedom”. The lady gave name to the fortress’ “maschio”, the central tower facing the city, defence fulcrum of the castle. This is known as “Torre della Spiritata” – Tower of the Possessed – to remind the cruelties and revenges of the castellan.

Must Do and See:

ormaA walk on “Towers’ Bridge” – Ponte delle Torri – from Rocca Albornoziana. This structure is a majestic Roman bridge also used as a water system. It is 280 mt long! And the view on surrounding green valley is pure poetry!

 acquedotto spoleto water system

ormaEnter Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral with its Renaissance portico and the 8 rose window on the facade as lace marquetry. But find time to visit at least some other places among the dozens of churches and abbeys once old Roman temples or Paleochristian churches facing the dried lake’s crystal clear waters.

spoelto santa maria assunta cathedral

cathedral spoleto

ormaTime to eat! We lovingly recommend  Spaghetti with Black Truffle and Crescionda cake: typical dishes of this area. More difficult to find is a Slow Food product, the rare “sedano di Trevi”, a kind of celery to eat raw with olive oil.

There is enough to fill one day out…and our curiosity too!

Mystical Trails – Discovering “The Temple of Valadier” in Genga

It is really reducing defining this place misterious…or even mystical…because I would rather say magical! It could be an amazing location for any fantasy film: an octagonal temple framed in mountain’s cave which gets deeper into darkness. If I were an enchantress I would definitely make this place my home (and I do not exclude I’ll become one some day!).

san vittore genga valadier temple

The path to reach the entrance arch to “Temple Of Valadier” is really easy (actually I was expecting something more arduous!) but, for adventures’ lovers there are always other interesting trekking itineraries from near village of S.Vittore or even a speleologycal path inside the obscurity of the cave behind the church (on my “to try” list!).

cave san vittore temple of valadier

tempietto del valadier genga san vittore

Inside the cave, as in all this area, there are water infiltrations coming down from the rocks. As usual, I went there in Converse, but to avoid skids on slippery soil I do recommend more serious shoes!

genga temple of valadier

The Temple Of Valadier in its neoclassical shape and doomed roof was erected here by willing of Pope in 1812. It started to be a pilgrimage site for those seeking forgiveness, but the local population already knew this cave from ancient times and used it as refuge. From these stories comes the other name for which this place is well known: “Refuge of Sinners”. Nowadays even the crude hermitage at the entrance is abandoned, but the uniqueness and mystical strenght of this place is kept untouched.

temple of valadier church genga italy

And from obscurity of the cave, it is nice to think some mythical creatures are hiding while staring curious tourists wandering in faint light!

temple of valadier genga italy

Of a love story & a Monsters’ Garden in Bomarzo

bomarzo crooked house monsters garden

“There was a rich man, a very rich lord, living in a big house surrounded by green woods just outside little village of Bomarzo (Viterbo province).
The rich man had a fervent imagination and used to make long walks in the garden near the big house bringing with him adventures’ books of nymphs and mermaids, of dwelling giants and horrific marine animals, of far away lands, so far from the big house and unknown to him.

bomarzo parco dei mostri theatre

The rich man had a wife, a very beautiful lady, who loved gardens and flowers. He loved her so much. Unfortunately, one day she got sick and died.
The rich man was inconsolable and a veil of sadness covered the big house till he stopped crying and decided to honor his beloved in the only way he knew: with fantasy. The rich man decided to turn the big house in a “Wonders’ Villa”.

ogre bomazo monsters park
He called the most important sculptor of the region and ordered him to full the house’s park with statues from imaginary worlds and bizarre constructions never seen before. Once the artist finished the work, the rich man addressed the unreal garden to his wife and kept walking across the park remembering her with nymphs and goddesses.”

bomarzo nettuno parco dei mostri

I think handkerchiefs are needed at this point!

Actually no one knows a lot about the inventor of Bomarzo marvellous park, prince Orsini, but for sure, only a beautiful love story as this one could have brought to life this unique and unreal garden, the Monsters’ Park of Bomarzo (or Sacro Bosco).
It actually seems a nineteenth-century version of a fun fair! Despite the fact that instead of roller coaster we have the crooked house, and in place of horror houses there are giant monsters here and there! Not even water games are missed! Fountains, small lakes and streams flow all over the garden guarded by nymphs’ statues.

dwelling giants bomarzo garden

The prince actually succeeded in living us gobsmacked for astonishment!
A surreal place where, asleep under the musk, among climbing ivy, animals and mythical creatures seem still alive, like petrified from a spell, waiting to be waken. And stories tell also ghost of prince Orsini uses to come back here for a walk among his imaginary friends.

dragon bomarzo giardino dei mostri

Manhole covers fashion show – mind your steps while in Milan!

If there’s something I punctually do when roaming through a new city, is walking with my nose up and (likewise) punctually hit someone or a street lamp! And in the end, not all beautiful things have to be high up! If when in London they remind us to “mind the gap!”, it has to be the case that, in Montenapoleone road (Milan centre), they put a sign with “mind your steps!”. No risk of injury, but to miss a funny contemporary art show…completely free: “The manholes covers fashion show” (don’t know if this is the real name…but every show must have one!).

I am among those people that do not understand contemporary art (yes, those who say “I could have done this too”, “..who’s making a turtle walk on an A4 sheet and call it a painting?!”). But I also admit my ignorance on the subject as at highschool had been a miracle we reached the Futurists.

But there is something on contemporary art I found fascinating: you can find it basically everywhere! And if a drain and a Luois Vuitton as nothing to share, well, go for a walk in front of golden Montenapoleone boutiques (where, ladies, despite the fact you could or couldn’t afford a Valentino, you get back that amazing sensation of being 5 in a jelly-candies store!).

Both to celebrate Milan EXPO2015 and also for charity (the manholes covers will be cleaned up and sold at a charity auction sale) the biggest fashion designers literally “take to the street” creating colorful cover for the drain in front of their boutiques’ windows. Of course, each one has its style! So “mind your steps!” and that’s what you’ll find:

manholes milano montenapoleone

Misfortunes of a country during Napoleonic age

Thefts, art, miracles, battles… it seems that the Napoleaonic age in this slice of Italy has left quite an interesting legacy, in good and bad ways! From 1796 to 1813, when Tolentino Battle ended French power in Le Marche, Napoleon and his family set their residence in this region bringing French policy: personalities with civil merits or political roles acquired noble entitlements and started build neoclassical villas.

napoleon in macerata and ancona province

Our Napoleonic itinerary starts in Macerata province, at that time known as Musone Department, moving from Tolentino battlefield to the white neoclassical interioris of Villa Valcampana (Treia).

valcampana napoleon villa treia macerata

The same columns are protagonist on the facade of Villa Tuscolano in Appignano.

napoleonic villa le marche appignanno

Its jewel is the “esedra garden” (or “ninfeo”), ruined by now but keeping its poetry untouched.

villa tuscolano appignano le marche italy

You can almost hear guests’ laughs or the phantom of the owner Leopoldo Armaroli who whished to be buried in this peaceful place (even though he couldn’t because of Napoleonic Saint Cloud edict). Other stories and legends sourrounds this bucolic villa.

villa tuscolano appignano macerata

On the coast we find Villa Eugenia, Luigi Bonaparte’s property, while Napoleon  slept in Palazzo Torri (Macerata), famous for his semi cycle overlooking the facade, used as carriages’ depot.

The dark side of the story, behind the construction of these architectural masterpieces, is that, withTolentino Agreement, the French troops started the (usual) Church’s artworks spoliation stealing Black Virgin Mary in Loreto cathedral: the holy statue was returned from Louvre after an agreement with Pope Pio VII.

Even more curious is the story of another religious artwork, given back for superstition: the painting of Virgin Mary “queen of all Saints” you can appreciate on the left side of S. Ciriaco Cathedral (Ancona).

all saint virgin mary san ciriaco ancona

It is known that the painted Virgin has opened her eyes in front of some witnesses and the Bishop himself. Curious Napoleon, before burning it, wanted to see the painting but at the sight of the Virgin he turned pale and ordered to his soldiers to cover it with a drape and return it to the Cathedral with all its gold and jewels.

Aren’t you starving after the long walk?!

That’s why we left at the end of our itinerary Portonovo Napoleonic Fort.

Inside Conero natural park, set on a natural bay surrounded by green woods and crystal clear water, the French Captain decided to build this white fort using stones taken from a nearby Benedictine Monastery to prevent the landing of English fleet ships looking for protection in the bay. What it has to do with food? Nowaday the Napoleonic Fort is a renowned fish restaurant! We don’t know if Napoleon liked eating fish…but with such a view from the embrasure we are sure you will! °v°

museum palazzo bezzi tolentino napoleon

The Philippus code – Templar Chronicles in central Italy

ancona le marche art gothic church

What are we gonna do at The Picus Post on a lazy morning?

Easy answer! Catch the camera, a take-away breakfast and start following a trail through past centuries and misterious codes looking for symbols left by a XII century Master, architect from Alchemy school: Philippus.

(Very Indiana Jones style but with less action and no Harrison Ford!)

His work joins two churches, at 20 km of distance from one another, both standing white in the morning sun, showing their pallor to inattentive wanderers. The adventure starts from a walk in front of the church of Santa Maria della Piazza.

ancona santa maria della piazza facade

Ancona’s port is behind the corner and a secondary quite and close road hosts this delicate bonbonniere, born on the site of two previous Paleo-Christian churches. Of the beauty of the original building, remains today only the lower part. Through the white marble walls, divided in three orders of blind arches, a sharp look could distinguishes the emblem of the Medieval corporation of sculptors and gouges affiliated to the Templars,from which Philippus comes from: Enfants du Maitre Jacques.

ancona door santa maria church

He designs the whole facade using misterious low reliefs of war, abundance and fertility: a symbolism ascribable to Tempalrs that testify the will of the order to sign this holy place.

ancona le marche gothic

Misterious meanings get deeper in the gothic Cathedral of S. Leopardo and S. Tecla.

central italy town osimo cathedral templar

We are in Osimo now. The same shimmering white, the same Master who signed his work on an incision inside the crypt where are kept relics of the martyrs of Osimo. The crypt is made with 16 different columns taken from previous catholic and pagan buildings.

crypt gothic osimo italy

Also in the white facade of this church, Philippus left a sort of coded message made of symbols and characters which even nowadays raises unresolved questions.

Templars believed the architect could create “alive buildings” to connect people with God, and this church is actually a summary of Alchemy and Numerology.

It is unique to find on a Church’s front door two long snakes with spiral tales which remember the Uro buro snake, symbol of the access to the infinite.

osimo templar uro buro snake

Singular are also the alchemic figures on the rose window: a sirene and other fantastic animals that hide an incomprehensible message behind their grotesque looks.

art italy town osimo cathedral window

osimo le marche cathedral

Instead the chest of King Salomon holding a vase on the front door’s arch is a clear remind to the Master’s corporation.

italian art osimo le marche

Less obscure meanings have other characters such as S. Peter with keys, the low reliefs showing the Apostles and the Virgin Mary or the Baptist with two prophets.

osimo cathedral low reliefs

So, when distractedly wandering in front of these bright facades be aware of the suspicious looks of these strange figures who are going to keep their Master’s secrets for a long time!

(Now you should clearly hear the Raiders’ March 😉 ) °v°

That French twist in Montefano downtown

Montefano - Macerata - La Rondinella - historical theatre

A walk in downtown Paris… Champs Elysees’ shining lights…a smell of gold and preciuous  eau de toilette…a nostalgic and decadent Belle Epoque atmosphere in those sparkling windows and well dressed ladies.

paris - tour eiffel

Entering  “La Rondinella”, one of Le Marche historical Theatres in “Montefano (MC),is like awaking from a French dream, after breathing Chanel n°5 walking near La Senna river and smelling sweet marmelade croissants in one of those alleys sourrounding Notre Dame early at morning.

Montefano - Macerata - La Rondinella - theatre

Montefano - Macerata - La Rondinella - balconies

Montefano - Macerata - La Rondinella - theatreA tiny jewel with 150 seats, buil at the end of the nineteenth century in perfect Liberty style. Two tiers of balconies and a horseshoe-shaped stall all wrapped in iron’s alloy flowers to live the atmosphere of a frivoluos night at the theatre just underneath “la Tour Eiffel”. Same industrial material and same sense of légèreté and elegance in the open-weave decorations.

Floral lamps lights up the whole theatre as the ones arising out of the darkness of a Parisian foggy night.

Montefano - Macerata - La Rondinella - theatre

Four muses designed by artist Bruschi watch from above actors and spectators: Tersicore, muse of dance, Euterpe liric poet’s protector, Thalia for comedy and Melpomene, representing tragedy. Besides them find man’s life stages: childhood, youth, manhood and old age.

Montefano -Macerata - La Rondinella - muses

So…welcome back from France and from this journey discovering one of the Italian’s Art Nouveau examples! Even without moving a step out of this Le Marche rural town 🙂

Sometimes travel is not a question of where you actually are, but where your heart feels! °v°

Montefano - Macerata - La Rondinella - theatre

Wrapped in lace

A silent place.

An empty one. Where you can see dust through sunlights from the spare windows.

And lace evrywhere, when you look up…like those women’s dresses in old family portraits.

Tiny but full of beauty: the altarpiece, portraying “Cardinal Gallo”,one of the many cardinals the city of Osimo gave to the Vatican State under its supremacy, painted by Giuliano da Fano.

The “SS. Sacramento Church” ought its name to the same Cardinal Gallo, who decided at the end of XVI century, to move here the namesake “Sacrament Confraternity”.

Enjoy this silence…

ss.sacramento church (2)

ss.sacramento church (1)