Abruzzo Detour: Seeking Tenth Century Splendors
Pino often has quite a jaunt to bid on stone restoration work in distant sites. If I’m not booked for a tour on the day he’s headed to an area I’ve never seen, I go “along for the ride”…….and the wonders.
I joined in gladly when he headed to Magliano de’ Marsi, Abruzzo mountain town to view restoration needed on city hall.
Pino’s task completed, we followed the curvy road skirting wooden mountain peaks to the nearby mountain village, Rosciolo de’ Marsi. I’d read about a tenth-century Benedictine abbey there and just hoped we’d find the “keeper of the keys”: many of the ancient treasures in isolated areas can only be opened by the entrusted “local” holding the keys, a volunteer custodian.
By then, it was close to lunch time and hopes were slight. But…che fortuna! Wandering the backstreets of the village, I ended up at the Gothic church, Santa Maria delle Grazie (another gem dating back to the 11th century) where a young man was locking the door….
I asked him hesitantly, “Dov’e Santa Maria in Valle Porclaneta?” He beamed and told me that he had the keys and would take us there.
We drove the windy narrow streets to the countryside just outside the village where our volunteer “guide,” key-keeper Marco, turned those keys to open a Romanesque treasure trove to us.
The 12th-sculpted ciborio (ciborium) over the altar and the ambone (raised platform for preaching, often covered) on the left, center of the nave, astounded with their sculpted intricacies. The 11th-c sculpted iconostasis stretching out over the nave is a rare example of a wooden masterpiece surviving for centuries.
We felt Marco’s passione for his town’s treasure as he unveiled many a detail to us, both sculptural wonders and primitive fresco masterpieces:
We reluctantly realized we had cut into Marco’s lunch time so we left this treasure and headed back into town, insisting on an aperitivo together in the piazza. (Marco’s time and passione deserved more than our tip!)
That view from Rosciolo de’ Marsi’s main square toward that Abruzzo mountain majesty underscored our fascination with this region: Nature’s splendors hide so many artistic treasures.
Read about another Abruzzo adventures seeking the local “key keepers”
Read about nearby Tagliacozzo, gem we visited that same day
Read more on why we love Tagliacozzo
Read more on why we love Abruzzo
Read about another Abruzzo albergo diffuso
Read about the Abruzzo earthquake
Read more on L’Aquila and the Abruzzo earthquake damage
Read about another Abruzzo town