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In Visso, “It’s Written on the Wall”

Date: June 27, 2012 - categories: , - 3 Comments

“It’s written on the wall” is the most apt expression to describe a wander through Visso, medieval hilltown not far from Norcia, close to the Sibilline mountains.

As you walk through this town of genteel pastel-colored palazzi, do keep your eyes on the lintels of the doorways: many are topped with dedicatory inscriptions or the coats-of-arms of Popes, cardinals or bishops, each of those laying claim to a municipal structure erected for the town.

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As you enter the main piazza through the medieval city gate, you’ll see the oldest inscription on the wall next to the arched city entryway: 1256.

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1256 inscription near the city gate – the oldest I saw

1256-inscription-near-the-city-gate-the-oldest-i-saw

As you wander, you’ll see countless other limestone plaques, surmounting doorways, over the charming town porticoes and on the lintels of windows, with themes varying from a 15th-century family motto to a 16th-century plaque commemorating a respected city magistrate.

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1613-plaque-of-a-city-administrator-of-visso

a-spiritual-invocation-of-1579

cardinal-coat-of-arms

coat-of-arms-of-pope-urban-viii

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Heading into the winding backstreets, you’ll come across Elio’s house. He once owned the tabacchi/newsstand in the main piazza and is now retired but keeps active, riding his bike round the town then out the countryroads and also handcrafting wooden objects of all sorts. A group of his artisan wooden boxes hang outside his door, over his handmade windowboxes holding pink petunias and rose-colored and white geraniums and next to his mailbox faced with the transcript of a Giacomo Leopardi poem. Amazingly, tiny Visso boasts il Museo dei Manoscritti Leopardiani housing treasured manuscripts of Italy’s famous 19th-century poet.

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Elio offers visitors tips

Signor Elio’s boxes all hold brochures on Visso, maps for hikers, maps for bikers and town maps: all for free. Elio is a self-appointed volunteer tourist office with una grande passione for his town of Visso. The main tourist office on the single Visso piazza was closed when I recently stopped in with friends so grazie a Dio for Elio and his brochures – in the boxes on his walls.

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signor-elio-proudly-points-out-his-leopardi-letterbox

Yes, in Visso, all is still written on the walls. Or – more aptly – what is written can be found hanging on the walls. Signor Elio’s wall.

Read about nearby Castelluccio and its floral majesty

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visso-flower-splendor

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3 Comments

  • Dwight Stanford says:

    Don’t forget to visit my friend at Petacci, great pecorino from the sopravissana species of sheep, Presidio product of slow food. He also makes “Vissatello” his own take on Culatello di Zibello using the skin of the hindquarter to cover the aging meat instead of the pig’s bladder. Great organic ciauscolo salami as well without preservatives.

  • Ruth Harvey says:

    Anne, our afternoon with you in Visso was magical. You make the old stones come alive. Thank you so much.

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures of this little gem of a town. Such a unique place with the pastel colors & written history on its walls. I hope it will still be there when I have the privilege of visiting Italy again some day.

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