CASTROVILLARI

Castrovillari stands in a natural hollow called Conca del Re, about 360 m above the sea level. It is surrounded by the Calabrian Apennines and is the main town of the Pollino National Park. The town consists of two separate areas: the modern center erected in the plain, and the old town that keeps important historical and artistic remains. The oldest evidences of Castrovillari date to the Ancient or lower-middle Paleolithic Age. Several stone artifacts found in Celimarro area belong to that prehistoric period. Sporadic evidences of the last period of the ancient Stone Age were discovered in the Pollino area and indicate that early humans were mainly hunters. Remarkable archaeological evidences were found in the countryside, from the Hellenistic and Roman Period to the end of Antiquity, as in the case of the Necropolis found on the Celimarro hill (6th-7th century A.D.) with bronze and pottery grave goods.




 


 

Address Piazza Municipio, 1
  87012 Castrovillari (CS) Italia
Phone number 0981/2511 (10 linee)
Fax 0981/21007
Website www.comune.castrovillari.cs.gov.it/


 

 

While crossing the large Corso Garibaldi, tourists admire the ancient noble buildings overlooking it. Of remarkable interest is the building complex of Palazzo Gallo located in Vittorio Emanuele square. The two-unit complex hosted an ancient Benedictine Monastery and a massif construction constructed around a courtyard, as the 19th century Neapolitan architecture prescribed. At present, it is the seat of local Public Museum and Library U. Caldora. The Museum houses a rich collection of archaeological artefacts found in the area in the last fifty years: pottery fragments, bronzes, arms, jewels, from the Iron Age to the Norman period. The Castle, completed by Ferrante d’Aragona in 1490, overlooks a small square where some 16th and 17th-century constructions stand. The 17th-century Palazzo Gesualdi has a wonderful wrought-iron Spanish-style balcony. The 1704 Church of SS. Trinità, located in the same square, has an unfinished reddish façade. The apparently bare and unadorned interior preserves several works of art coming from ruined buildings: a wooden Crucifix dating to the end of the 16th century and the notable ciborium with mother-of-pearl inserts that stands above the main altar. The Franciscan proto-monastery founded in 1220 by Pietro Catin, one of the disciples of the “poor man of Assisi”, is worth a visit. The imposing recently restored complex has two cloisters. It houses the Municipal Art Gallery dedicated to Andrea Alfano (1879-1967), and keeps the artworks that the painter, who is one the most representative authors of the 20th-century artistic culture in Calabria, donated to his birthplace. Through the narrow streets that branch off from the Monastery, characterized by underpasses, Medieval architectures, remarkable buildings with stone carved doors and inner courtyards, visitors reach the heart of “Giudecca”, the Jewish district where Jews lived till the 16th century, when they were obliged to leave the Reign. The 16th-century ruins of the ancient Municipal Building overlook San Giuliano small square. From here, the road clambers up to the monumental symbol of the town, Santa Maria del Castello. The Conservatorio delle Pentite, founded in 1635 to host “fallen women” who “sought refuge in Religion’s arms”, is located halfway up. There are few remains of the Conservatorio, but the adjacent chapel dedicated to Santa Maria Egiziaca keeps remarkable 17th -18th -century works, including a Madonna col Bambino by Giuseppe Marulli and a Piety by Antonio Sarnelli. Of equal interest are other religious places such as the Churches of Trinità and Santa Maria di Costantinopoli, both of Medieval origins, and San Francesco di Paola, evidence of the intermingled relationships between history and art.

A visit to the Church of S. Maria del Castello is unmissable. The Church was built on a hill having the same name, and some ruined dwellings and hermit caves (7th-8th century A.D.) stand on the hillslopes. The majestic Monastery complex of S. Francesco d'Assisi and Chiesa della SS. Trinità is located on the Lauro hill and was founded in 1220 by Pietro Catin, one of the disciples of Saint Francis of Assisi. The church was re-built in 1363 and remodeled in the 16th and 18th centuries. Remodeling works deeply changed the building, that has now a front porch façade with arched windows and traces of frescoes. The 16th-century Church of S. Maria di Costantinopoli (S. Giuseppe) was once devoted to S. Maria di Costantinopoli and it is now dedicated to Saint Joseph. The Church of San Giuliano, patron saint of Castrovillari, stands in the heart of the Giudecca district. It was originally erected in the 12th century, and was later enlarged in the 13th century. Evidences of tuff Gothic elements and stone fragments are still visible in the plastered atrium. The building was radically remodeled in the 16th century and the remarkable wooden ceiling and the new altar were completed in 1647. The façade has a beautiful cast stone Renaissance gate with two small double columns and floral decorations, and a front double staircase.

The remarkable Castle of the town was completed by Ferrante d'Aragona in 1490 on a pre-existing building. The design project was probably developed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini from Siena, who worked for the Aragon House in Naples. The building has a square layout with round towers at each corner. The Castle was used as a jail till few years ago. A stone spiral stairway leads to the roof with a spectacular view of Mt Pollino and the old town. Walking in the narrow streets that branch off from the Monastery, visitors go through underpasses, and admire Medieval architectures, remarkable buildings with stone carved doors and inner courtyards. Then they reach the heart of “Giudecca”, the Jewish district where Jews lived till the 16th century, when they were obliged to leave the Reign.

The Archaeological Museum of Castrovillari, accomplished by Agostino Miglio, a Calabrian researcher and scholar, was established by the city in 1958. It was transferred to the Franciscan Proto-monastery in 2002, and the Pollino Archaeological Group supervised the re-opening of the Museum on December 21, 2002. In 2007, to celebrate the 25th anniversary, the Museum was redesigned with modern display stands and labels, and it was equipped with a multimedia hall. The Museum displays evidences of the archaeologic heritage of Castrovillari and its surroundings, from Prehistory to Early Middle Ages. Stone and bone artifacts from Celimarro area, where a Paleolithic site was discovered, are exhibited at the Museum. Prehistorical rests were also found in the Caves of Sant'Angelo in Cassano Jonio that hosted evidences of the Bronze Age as well. Of particular interest is the chronological sequence of artifacts discovered at the Protohistoric Necropolis of Bellu Luco, an area located along the Coscile river. Another chronological sequence of fragments from the Madonna del Castello hill, where Castrovillari settlement originated, documents that the hill has been inhabited since Prehistory. In fact, Prehistorical stone tools, Bronze-and-Iron-age fragments, Roman and Greek artifacts and Early Medieval pottery are exposed in the Museum section dedicated to the hill area. Greek evidences come from the Vescovado quarter and Proto-monastery where, during restoration works, a series of relief and red-figure Italiote pottery were found. Grave goods of Ferrocinto necropolis have the same origin, together with a well-preserved skeleton lying with little vases and a spearhead, identified as an ancient warrior of the 3rd century B.C. Moreover, the museum documents the Roman presence in the Castrovillari area where a series of rural villas were discovered. The refined terra sigillata pottery, glass containers, iron farm tools and fragments of great food vases were discovered, evidences of a strong agricultural exploitation in the area since the Roman Age. Among the Early Medieval remains, those coming from the Celimarro necropolis are particularly valuable and refined. In fact, a bronze fibula representing a little horse decorated with small circles and a lead cross made of small spheres were found in the rock carved tombs. Furthermore, rich collections of autochthonous and Roman artefacts found in the sites of Francavilla Marittima and Torre del Mordillo in Spezzano Albanese can be admired in the Museum.



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