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Montesanto

Montesanto

Distance from postignano

8,5 Km

Montesanto is located in a panoramic position facing Sellano overlooking the valley of the Vigi river. For centuries the strategic position of the village made it an important centre with a rich history, documented starting from the 13th century, disputed between the Alviano di Mevale, the Varano, lords of Camerino, and the municipality of Spoleto. 

The village was an important crossroads and a point of passage and towards the end of the 15th century some Jewish bankers settled there and run their activity, by special papal concession, at least until the second half of the 16th century. Montesanto's period of maximum prosperity began with the pacification of 1562, which ended a long series of conflicts over the control of the area. Several Renaissance buildings date back to this period, many of which unfortunately no longer exist following a series of earthquakes, in particular that of 1703, which caused extensive damage throughout the area and triggered depopulation, with the transfer of some of the most important families to Spoleto and Rome. The earthquakes of 1979 and 1997 contributed to increasing the depopulation of the town, already underway due to the emigration of most of the citizens towards the cities, and today the village is almost completely uninhabited and most of the buildings have not been rebuilt. It is however still possible to imagine the architectural richness that characterised Montesanto in ancient times. The village develops along the crest of a hill, with a narrow and elongated shape, crossed longitudinally by three straight and parallel streets, and a part of the ancient city walls is still clearly visible and partially restored, offering a wide view over the valley of the Vigi. In the highest part of the town one can see the ruins of a fortified castle that must have been originally imposing, and in various parts of the town there are still wells that once collected rainwater, in the absence of springs. At the centre of the town is a square overlooked by the town hall and the church of Santa Maria Assunta. The municipal building housed the market that took place under its arcades, and the post office, with what is believed to be one of the oldest letterboxes in the world, on which we read "here are placed the letters of the mail 1632".

The palace, now home to the Centro Studi Montesanto per la Scienza, still retains some original features in its structure, including a 16th century fireplace and sink, a 15th century fresco depicting the Madonna and two Saints. Next to the town hall there was another building of a certain importance, which belonged to the Morelli family and then the Collicola, of which, however, only a few ruins remain. At the centre of the square is a well which, as can be deduced from the various inscriptions, was rebuilt several times over the centuries. Opposite is the Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta, dating back to the 12th century but repeatedly remodeled, in particular between 1545 and 1574 when it was considerably enlarged. Only the apse remains of the original Romanesque church. The façade has three portals, one of which is surmounted by a tympanum and an inscribed architrave. At the top there are two windows, next to one of these is a small surviving single-light window from the 13th century church, together with the three-order bell tower displaying the Spoleto and Montesanto cats of arms on the lower part. The interior of the church is now bare, the original rich furnishings are now kept at the Museo Diocesano in Spoleto. The roof trusses are a reproduction of the original collapsed ones and the arches are supported by columns with Ionic capitals, then there are two baptismal fonts and a carved stone one from the 16th century. Unfortunately, few traces remain of the frescoes that decorated the church in antiquity, of which fragments survived in the side chapel and in other parts of the building, dating back to the 16th century. In the floor are various trapdoors that indicate the presence of burials. In the upper part of the town one can admire the palace of the counts De’ Pazzi Morelli, with an ashlar portal and noble coats of arms, while behind it there is a private chapel dedicated to St. Anne. On the opposite side, in the lower part of the town and next to one of the entrance gates in the city walls, are the 14th century Church of Santa Lucia and the Chapel of the Madonna della Porta from the 16th century, which shelters a fresco probably from the end of the 14th century and contains other 17th century works attributed to the Angelucci da Mevale workshop.

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Montesanto
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