A Walk in the Town of Medieval Churches
A month ago my friends and I visited an ancient Abruzzian town Penne. I wanted to visit the town since I’ve picked up a booklet about it in a tourist information point. Since ancient times the city had been a center of religious diocese, and there are many old churches. I will write about the city’s history in the next post. So when my friends had arrived from Ireland to Abruzzo I suggested that we can visit Penne together. It was a great pleasure to travel with them since Eleonora is an author of a very beautiful blog about Italy, her husband John has a purely British sense of humor, and their daughter Amy is a real little elf. Nora and John are fond of traveling about Italy and Abruzzo and their little daughter is an incredibly patient and tireless child.
We started sightseeing with the Church of St. Dominique, which shares the cloister with the Penne’s municipality. As it often happens with Italian churches the St. Dominique church has a Gothic façade and a baroque interior. The fact is that places of worship for centuries were built on one and the same site and it is not a surprise to discover under a Gothic-baroque building a beautiful Roman crypt.
The church of St. Dominique was built in the XIV century and was subsequently rebuilt several times. The building’s facade is decorated with a portal of 1667 and a bas-relief of the Madonna and Child (XIV century).
After admiring the interior of the church, we opened a side door and discovered a very beautiful Cappella del Rosario. The Cappella’s interior is richly decorated with carved wooden elements. In a carved gilded altar, as in the massive frame, is situated a statue of the Madonna and Child (1600). The ceiling is covered with carved wooden panels. The walls are decorated with elegant alabaster stucco. Through high stained-glass windows is streaming ambient sun light. This chapel is a real masterpiece.
After visiting the church of St. Dominique, we went in search of the cathedral. In Italian cities the cathedral is usually located in the main square and is a center of attraction for citizens and tourists. But the Penne Cathedral is located on the top of a rather steep hill, a little bit away from the administrative center of the city. Consulting the map, we briskly walked through the main street. On both sides there were churches and palaces.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria degli Angeli and San Massimo is situated on Colle Sacro (Sacred Hill), which in antiquity had been a temple of the goddess Vesta. The construction of the cathedral had begun in the tenth century, but the building was continuously built and rebuilt, even in the twentieth century. The Cathedral was built in the Romanesque style with a flat façade and a tall belfry of the XVI century.
We stopped in a shadow of the bell tower to get some breath. It was clear that the cathedral was closed. We wandered around the cathedral and in the great dissapointment started the return journey.
The road went downhill and very quickly we found ourselves in front of the city gates. A church of unusual circular shape is situated next to them. The second unusual thing about the church was that the bell tower is located outside the city walls. The church of St. Nicholas was built in the XIX century according to the design of engineer Dottorelli. The interior of the church of St. Nicholas is very laconic. Apparently, in order to balance the unusual circular design. In a single round nave there is an altar with a crucifix.
When we left the pleasant coolness of the church, we decided to have a cup of coffee. We found a very nice cafe outside the city gates. We enjoyed a very tasty cappuccino with freshly baked croissants on a terrace while observing the stunning views. Against the backdrop of the majestic mountains the old town looked very picturesque.