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ASSISI - SPOLETO - FOLIGNO

Assisi - Spoleto - Foligno


ASSISI

Assisi is a town and episcopal see in Italy in Perugia province, in the Umbria region, on the western flank of Mt. Subasio. It was the birthplace of St. Francis, who founded the Franciscan religious order here in 1208, and St. Clare (Chiara d'Offreducci), the founder of the Poor Clares. Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows of the 19th century was also born here.

According to Italy's 2003 census, the comune numbers 25,600 inhabitants over an area of about 187 km²; the city proper has a population of around 5,500.

Churches

-The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi (St Francis) is a World Heritage Site. The Franciscan monastery and the lower and upper church (Basilica inferiore e superiore) of St Francis were begun immediately after his canonization in 1228, and completed 1253. The lower church has frescos by renowed late-medieval artists Cimabue and Giotto; in the Upper church are frescos of scenes in the life of St Francis by Giotto and his circle.
On September 26, 1997 Assisi was struck by an earthquake. The Basilica was badly damaged (part of the vault collapsed, killing four people inside the church and carrying with it a fresco by Cimabue), and was closed for two years for restoration.
-Santa Maria Maggiore, (St. Mary the Greater) the earliest extant church
-The Cathedral of San Rufino (St. Rufinus), with a Romanesque facade with three rose windows and a 16th‑century interior; part of it is built on a Roman cistern.
-Santa Chiara (St Clare) with its massive lateral buttresses, rose window, and simple Gothic interior, begun in 1257, contains the tomb of the saint and 13th‑century frescoes and paintings.
-Santa Maria degli Angeli (St. Mary of the Angels), which houses the Porziuncola.

Other landmarks

The town is dominated by two medieval castles. The larger, called " Rocca Maggiore ", is a massive presence meant to intimidate the people of the town: it was built by Cardinal Albornoz (1367) and added to by Popes Pius II and Paul III.

Culture

Assisi Embroidery is a form of counted-thread embroidery which has been practised in Assisi since the 13th century.

Today the town has many groups coming to enjoy the simple peace of St. Francis. One such group has restored an 11th century room and added altars to the world's religions. Pilgirms come from many countries to the Assisi East West Retreat Center in Pz. San Rufino in the spirit of St. Francis to sit and be in peace.



FOLIGNO

Foligno, (Latin: Fulginiae, Fulginium) is an ancient town of Italy in the province of Perugia in east central Umbria, on the Topino river where it leaves the Apennines and enters the wide plain of the Clitunno river system. It is located 40 km (25 mi) south-east of Perugia, 10 km (6 mi) north-north-west of Trevi and 6 km (4 mi) south of Spello.

Foligno is a station on the main line from Rome to Ancona, and is the junction for Perugia; it is thus an important rail center, with repair and maintenance yards for the trains of central Italy, and was therefore subjected to severe Allied aerial bombing in World War II, responsible for its relatively modern aspect, although it retains some medieval monuments. Of its Roman past no significant trace remains, with the exception of the regular street plan of the centre. Other resources include sugar refineries and metallurgical, textile, building materials and paper and timber industries. After the war, the city's position in the plain and again its railroad connections have led to a considerable suburban spread with the attendant problems of traffic and air pollution, as well as a severe encroachment on the Umbrian wetlands.


History

Foligno seems to have been founded by Umbrians in the pre-Roman period (probably 8th century BC). It was conquered by the Romans after the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC, receiving the name of Fulginiae from the ancient cult of the goddess Fulginia. In the classic Roman age the city acquired importance as a Statio principalis of road traffic along the ancient Via Flaminia. The city began to decay in the late Roman Empire years: after the fall of the latter, Fulginiae became part of the Duchy of Spoleto, and was sacked by the Saracens in 881 and ruined by Hungarians in 915 and again in 924: its inhabitants therefore decided to move, settling around the nearby Civitas Sancti Feliciani (former Castrum Sancti Feliciani), a church strengthened by walls where the Bishop and martyr Feliciano was buried in the 3rd century AD and which was then already populated. The new seat had also attracted people from Forum Flaminii (now San Giovanni Profiamma), a neighbouring city that had been destroyed by the Lombards under Liutprand.

Foligno gained the status of free city in 1165 thanks to emperor Federico Barbarossa. Siding first with the Guelph party, it became Ghibelline as a fierce rival of the Guelph Perugia. It changed hands often during the wars of the 13th century, until 1305 when it was seized by the powerful family of the Trinci acting as semi-independent deputies of the Holy See. During this period Foligno flourished and controlled a large territory, including Assisi, Bevagna, Giano, Montefalco, Nocera and Spello.

When one of the Trinci went against the church, Pope Eugene IV sent a force against Foligno in 1439, led by the fearsome Cardinal Giovanni Vitelleschi: the inhabitants opened their gates, and the last of the Trinci, Corrado III, was beheaded in 1441 in the castel of Soriano. Henceforth Foligno belonged to the Papal States until 1860, with the exception of the Napoleonic era, when it was part of the Roman Republic (1799) then of the Kingdom of Italy (1809‑1814). The citizens took an active part in the Risorgimento wars, and on September 14, 1860 Savoy troops took the city and annexed it to the Kingdom of Italy.

It has suffered from several major earthquakes, among which those of 1832 and 1997.


Monuments, art and folklore

Main monuments of the city include:
-Palazzo Comunale, built in the 13th century and rebuilt various times;
-Duomo or Cathedral of San Feliciano (1133-1201): a Romanesque building; the interior, however, was completely reworked in the 18th century);
-Church of S. Maria Infra Portas, the oldest church in town, although the present edifice dates to the 11th century
-Trinci Palace (1389-1407), which houses an archaelogical museum and the city's picture gallery
-The Abbey of Sassovivo, 5 km (3 mi) to the east, with cloisters of 1229 with pairs of small columns supporting arches, and Cosmatesque decorations.

The name of Foligno was famous for a noteworthy school of painting in the 15th century: it is also recorded for the famous Raphael's Madonna of Foligno (now in the Vatican), painted by the Urbinate artist for the nobleman Sigismondo di Comitibus, and for the first printed edition of Dante's Divina Commedia, finished on April 11, 1472 in the Orfini Palace.

The city is also notable for its association with the Bl. Angela of Foligno.


Quarters

The historical center of Foligno is traditionally divided into twenty rioni ("quarters"). Only ten of them are officially recknowed and can take part to the Giostra della Quintana. These are:
-Ammanniti
-Badia
-Cassero
-Contrastanga
-Croce Bianca
-Giotti
-La Mora
-Morlupo
-Pugilli
-Spada

The "dead" rioni which had been absorbed within the former ones are: Borgo, Fonte del Campo, Cipischi, Croce, Falconi, Feldenghi, Franceschi, Menacoda, Piazza Vecchia, Spavagli.



SPOLETO

Spoleto (Latin Spoletium) is an ancient city in the Italian province of Perugia in east central Umbria on a foothill of the Apennines. It is 20 km (12 mi) S. of Trevi, 29 km (18 mi) N. of Terni, 63km (39 miles) SE of Perugia; 212km (131 miles) SE of Florence; and 126km (78 miles) N of Rome. Its population according to the 2003 census was 38,000.

History

Spoleto was situated on the eastern branch of the Via Flaminia, which forked into two roads at Narnia and rejoined at Forum Flaminii, near Foligno. An ancient road also ran hence to Nursia.

Located at the head of a large, broad valley, surrounded by mountains, Spoleto has long occupied a strategic geographical position. It appears to have been an important town to the original Umbri tribes, who built walls around their settlement in the 5th century BC, some of which are visible today.

The first historical mention of Spoleto is the notice of the foundation of a colony there in 241 BC. (Liv. Epit. xx; Vell. Pat. i.14), and it was still, according to Cicero (Pro Balbo), colonia latina in primis firma et illustris: a Latin colony in 95 BC. After the Battle of Lake Trasimene (217 BC) Spoletium was attacked by Hannibal, who was repulsed by the inhabitants (Livy xxii.9). During the Second Punic War the city was a useful ally to Rome. It suffered greatly during the civil wars of Marius and Sulla. The latter, after his victory over Crassus, confiscated the territory of Spoletium (82 BC). From this time forth it was a municipium.

Under the empire it seems to have flourished once again, but is not often mentioned in history. Martial speaks of its wine. Aemilianus, who had been proclaimed emperor by his soldiers in Moesia, was slain by them here on his way to Rome (253), after a reign of three or four months. Rescripts of Constantine (326) and Julian (362) are dated from Spoleto. The foundation of the episcopal see dates from the 4th century: early martyrs of Spoleto are legends, but a letter to the bishop Caecilianus, from Pope Liberius in 354 constitutes its first historical mention. Owing to its elevated position Spoleto was an important stronghold during the Vandal and Gothic wars; its walls were dismantled by Totila (Procopius, de Bello Gothico iii. 12).


Under the Lombards, Spoleto became the capital of an independent duchy, the Duchy of Spoleto (from 570), and its dukes ruled a considerable part of central Italy. In 774 it became part of Holy Roman Empire. Together with other fiefs, it was bequeathed to Pope Gregory VII by the powerful countess Matilda of Tuscany, but for some time struggled to maintain its independence. In 1155 it was destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa. In 1213 it was definitively occupied by Pope Gregory IX. During the absence of the papal court in Avignon, it was prey to the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, until in 1354 Cardinal Albornoz brought it once more under the authority of the Papal States.

After Napoleon's conquest of Italy, in 1809 Spoleto became capital of the short-lived French department of Trasimène, returning to the Papal States after Napoleon's defeat, within five years. In 1860, after a gallant defence, Spoleto was taken by the troops fighting for the unification of Italy. Giovanni Pontano, founder of the Accademia Pontaniana of Naples, was born here. Another child of Spoleto was Francis Possenti who was educated in the Jesuit school and whose father was the Papal assesor, Francis later entered the Passionists and became Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.

In 1958, because Spoleto was a small town, where real estate and other goods and services were at the time relatively inexpensive. yet was fairly close to Rome with good rail connections, it was chosen by Gian-Carlo Menotti as the venue for an arts festival. The Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds) has developed into the most important cultural manifestation in Umbria, with a three-week schedule of music, theater and dance performances; it is usually held in late June-early July.

Ancient and lay buildings

-The Roman theater, largely rebuilt. The scene is occupied by the former church of St. Agatha, currently housing the National Archaeological Museum.
-Ponte Sanguinario ("bloody bridge"), a Roman bridge 1st Century BC. The name is traditionally attributed to the persecutions of Christians in the nearby amphiteatre.
-Roman amphitheater (2nd century AD). It was turned into a fortress by Totila in 545 and in Middle Ages times was used for stores and shops, while in the cavea the church of San Gregorio Minore was built. The stones were later used to build the Rocca.
-The Palazzo Comunale (13th century).
-Ponte delle torri, a striking 13th-century aqueduct, possibly on Roman foundations: whether it was first built by the Romans is a point on which scholarly opinion is divided.
-The majestic Rocca Albornoziana, built in 1359-1370 by Eugubine architect Matteo Gattapone for Cardinal Albornoz. It has six sturdy towers which formed two distinct inner spaces: the Cortile delle Armi, for the troops, and the Cortile d'onore for the use of the city's governor. The latter courtyard is surrounded by a two-floor porch. The rooms include the Camera Pinta ("Painted Room") with noteworthy 15th‑century frescoes. After having resisted many sieges, the Rocca was turned into a jail in 1800 and used as such until the late 20th century. It is currently under repair.
- The Palazzo Racani-Anoni (16th century) has a worn graffito decoration attributed to Giulio Romano. The inner courtyard has a notable fountain.
-Palazzo della Signoria(14th century), housing the City's Museum.
-The majestic Palazzo Vigili (15th-16th centuries) includes the Torre dell'Olio (13th century), the sole mediaeval city tower remaining in Spoleto.

Churches

-The Duomo (Cathedral) of S. Maria Assunta, begun around 1175 and completed in 1227. It contains the tomb of Filippo Lippi, who died in Spoleto in 1469, designed by his son Filippino Lippi. The church also houses a manuscript letter by Saint Francis of Assisi.
-San Pietro extra Moenia was founded in 419 to house Peter's relics over an ancient necropolis. It was rebuilt starting in the 12th century (though the work dragged on until the 15th century), when a remarkable Romanesque facade was added: this has three doors with rose-windows, with a splendid relief decoration by local artists; with S. Rufino in Assisi, it is the finest extant specimen of Umbrian Romanesque.
-The basilica of San Salvatore (4th-5th century) incorporates the cella of a Roman temple and is one of the most important examples of Early Christian architecture.
-San Ponziano is a notable complex lying outside the city's walls, dedicated to the patron saint of Spoleto. The church was built in the 12th century in Romanesque style, but was later modified by Giuseppe Valadier. The crypt, however, has remained untouched, with its five small naves and small apses with cross-vault, ancient Roman spolia columns and frescoes of the 14th-15th centuries.
-Santa Maria della Manna d'Oro, is an edifice on an octagonal plan sited near the Cathedral. It was built in the 16th-17th century to thank the Madonna for her protection of Spoletine traders.
-San Domenico (13th century) is a Gothic construction in white and pink stone. The interior has notable frescoes and a painting by Giovanni Lanfranco. The crpyt is a former church dedicated to St. Peter, with frescoed walls.
-San Gregorio Maggiore (11th-12th century), is a Romanesque church which has been restored to original lines only in recent times. The facade has two slopes and a porch of the 16th century that includes the Chapel of the Innocents (14th century) with a noteworthy font. The main external feature is the high belfry, finished only in the 15th century. The interior has three naves with spolia columns and pillars.
-The former church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo is a Romanesque edifice featuring, on the exterior, a 13th century fresco portraying Madonna with Saints. The interior frescoes, from the 13th-15th centuries, include some of the most ancient representations of the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket, by Alberto Sotio, and of St. Francis.
-Santa Eufemia (12th century), a striking example of Romanesque architecture with influences from Lombardy and Veneto. The interior has three naves with spolia columns.
-San Paolo inter vineas (10th century) is a typical Spoletine Romanesque church. Its main feature is the rose-window of the facade.
-The former church and Augustinian convent of San Nicolò (1304) is a rare example of Gothic style in Spoleto. The small church has a single nave with a splendid polygonal apse with mullioned windows. Under the apse is the church of Santa Maria della Misericordia. There are two cloisters, the more recent one pertaining to the 15th century.
-San Filippo Neri is a Baroque construction of mid-17th century, designed by the Spoletine Loreto Scelli and inspired by churches in Rome of the same period.
-Sant'Ansano was created in the 18th century over a series of former buildings including a Roman temple (1st century AD) and the Mediaeval St. Isaac's crypt. It has a cloister from the 16th century.

 

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