All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page added in May 2023.
All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to email@example.com.
Page added in May 2023.
You may wish to see an introductory page to this section or pages on Roman or Medieval Sulmona first.
Spedale della SS. Annunziata (a model of which is shown in the image used as background for this page)
The most remarkable specimen of architecture is the town-house, formerly an hospital belonging to an adjoining church and ecclesiastical establishment called L'Annunziata. The front has three large doorways, with a corresponding window over each: every one of these is adorned with a frame-work of most beautiful carved stone, all different from each other; and a frieze of the same rich and intricate character runs along the whole edifice, and gives it a most dignified aspect.
Keppel Richard Craven - Excursions in the Abruzzi and northern provinces of Naples - 1838
The palace with the adjoining church (rebuilt after the 1706 earthquake) is the most interesting monument of Sulmona and it is located in a very central position along Corso Ovidio, the main street. In 1991 chance excavations identified a Roman house beneath it.
Spedale della SS. Annunziata: left (1415) and central (after 1456) portals
The Corso crosses a small square containing a Casa Communale, of 1522, of marvellous beauty, adorned with statues of sainted popes and cardinals between its richly-traceried windows.
Augustus J. C. Hare - Cities of Southern Italy and Sicily - 1891
The hospital was founded in 1320 by a lay brotherhood to provide assistance to the sick and to the poor girls. In addition some of its facilities were occasionally used by the magistrates of the town. In origin the hospital was preceded by a portico which in 1415 was replaced by a monumental fašade which shows the transition from Gothic to Renaissance architecture. The statues on the pillars of the fašade are dated XVIth century.
Spedale della SS. Annunziata: left (redesigned in 1456 and with small statues of the Virtues) and central (completed in 1483) windows
In one of the windows the pilasters, which imitate palm-trees, rest upon lions, while the rose above is upheld by floating angels. Hare
In 1456 an earthquake struck Sulmona and the fašade required a partial reconstruction, which had a clearer Renaissance aspect. In 1522 the fašade was enlarged with a third portal and window. The windows are separated from the portals by a long thin frieze depicting small figures inside grapevine branches or acanthus scrolls, a typical medieval decoration based on ancient Roman models (see an example at Terme di Caracalla in Rome). In 1960 a restoration pulled down some XVIIIth century additions.
Spedale della SS. Annunziata: courtyard with Renaissance portal and stucco plaque: notice the 1531 coat of arms of the hospital with the inscription AMGP (Ave Maria Gratia Plena)
The construction phases of the fašade can be traced also in the courtyard of the building where the upper floor is generally dated late XVth century while the lower one was built in the XIVth one. Inscriptions and coats of arms celebrate events of the life of the hospital. Today the palace houses the Museums of the City of Sulmona including one showing the traditional costumes of the region.
S. Francesco della Scarpa: rear collapsed section
The effect of the arches of the aqueduct, is extremely picturesque; and is much enhanced by the addition of an immense Gothic porch of a ruined church, and a portion of its ornamented front, of such exquisite labour and florid tracery as to speak most favourably for the remainder of the structure, one of the many overthrown by the earthquake. Craven
The church was founded in 1241, but it was entirely rebuilt in 1290; because of its size it was the largest Franciscan church of Abruzzo; della Scarpa (shoe) is a reference to the Franciscan friars who lived in the adjoining monastery in order to distinguish them from the Discalced Franciscans. The earthquake of 1456 damaged the building and a tall buttress was built to strengthen its apse and side entrance.
S. Francesco della Scarpa: side portal
Behind the aqueduct rise the front and grand Gothic portal of S. Francesco, of which the interior, ruined by an earthquake, is now used as a market. Hare
The 1706 earthquake caused the collapse of the presbitery area, which was turned into a small market place when the church was rebuilt. The side portal was particularly large and imposing because of its location along Corso Ovidio. It houses a Renaissance fresco portraying the Virgin Mary between St. Francis and St. Mary Magdalene.
Fontana del Vecchio and final section of the aqueduct
We admired its well-paved streets and numerous shops, its cafÚs, palazzi, and churches, as we passed along the principal thoroughfare.
Edward Lear - Illustrated Excursions in Italy - 1846
The fountain at the end of the aqueduct was designed in 1474 at the initiative of Polidoro Tiberti, at the time praetor of the town. The long inscription which celebrates Tiberti says that he also took care of paving the streets of Sulmona. It is named after a mask portraying an old man at its top.
Fontana del Vecchio: details with the coat of arms of Ferdinando better known as Ferrante d'Aragona, King of Naples in 1458-1494; it is different from those of the Aragonese Kings of Sicily because it shows the Angevin fleur-de-lys; Queen Joanna II, the last of the Angevins of Naples promised her kingdom to Alfonso V of Aragon, the father of Ferrante
At the death of Ferrante King Charles VIII of France made an attempt to conquer the Kingdom of Naples, but was forced to return to France. In 1504 Ferdinand II, King of Aragon and of Sicily, nephew of Ferrante, became King of Naples: At his death in 1516, Naples, with all his other dominions, passed to his grandson
Charles of Austria, afterwards emperor of the Romans, Charles the fifth of the name. During this, and every succeeding reign of the Austrian family, these kingdoms were governed by viceroys, and seldom honoured with the presence of their sovereign.
Henry Swinburne - Travels in the Two Sicilies. 1777-1780
Charles V. bestowed Sulmona in fief on Charles de Lannoi, one of his Belgian generals, whose descendants continued for some time to possess it, with the title of Prince; after which it passed, through inheritance or marriage, to other illustrious families, among which must be reckoned that of Borghese. Craven
The present Borghesi have no longer any possessions among the Peligni. Lear
There are many objects of interest in Solmona: the Market-place with its picturesque aqueduct, overlooked by a beautiful Gothic arch, the remains of a Church which fell in the last century; the great Church of Sant' Annunziata; the Cathedral of San Pamfilo; and several Gothic doors and windows in various parts of the city. Lear
The earthquake of 1706 was a major one, but a number of Renaissance palaces which had been built or effectively restored after the 1456 earthquake withstood its impact.
The small palace was built in the XVIth century; according to records the fine portal with a diamond-shaped decoration was placed there in 1563 by Marino Liberati, a local magistrate (see Palazzo Santacroce in Rome for a similar Renaissance decoration).
The streets are straight, and in general furnished with substantial stone houses, the exterior fronts of which have been left in an unfinished state, which greatly injures their general appearance; the stones of which they are constructed having never been smoothed at their exterior surface, or covered with any kind of stucco; though the doors, windows, and angles are almost all faced with a finer-grained material, carved and ornamented with considerable taste and skill. Craven
Palazzo Tabassi is perhaps the finest example of a XVth century noble palace in Sulmona. A small inscription to the side of the portal says that it was made in 1449 by Mastro Pietro, a stone cutter from Como in Northern Italy (see a portal designed by another stone cutter from Como at Cefal¨ in the same period and a baptismal font in Palermo by Domenico Gagini, a sculptor born near Como). The building was bought by the Tabassi in the 1670s; in 1843 they hosted Edward Lear in another palace in Sulmona.
An inscription indicates that the palace was built in 1484 for Giovanni dalle Palle, a Venetian merchant. The side of the building along Corso Ovidio was in part redesigned in the XVIIth century; the elegant portal bears the coat of arms of the Trasmondi/Scala families. A portico stood next to it, but after the 1706 earthquake it was closed (its arches are still visible) and some decorative elements were moved to a new fašade in an adjoininig piazza, in particular a statue portraying St. George which was locally known as Ovidio a cavallo (Ovid on horseback) because the poet belonged to the equestrian order. The two-tailed mermaid is a heraldic symbol of the Colonna, a Roman family who had excellent relations with the Kings of Naples, but a direct link between the relief and the Colonna has not been established.
The 1706 earthquake destroyed many Renaissance works of art which decorated the churches of Sulmona, in particular their frescoed walls and ceilings, but a number of small items were spared and today they are on display in the Medieval and Renaissance section of the Museum of Sulmona and in the Diocesan Museum, in the former nunnery of S. Chiara.
The following images show some of the most interesting exhibits.
Museum of Sulmona: (left) 1527 cupboard for the Holy Oil (see similar cupboards in Rome and Capranica; (centre/right) tombstones of the De Merolinis family (1505 and 1571); the De Merolinis (or Merolini) were an important family of Sulmona during the XVth century and their name is recorded in the chronicles of the time because of their quarrels with other families
Museum of Sulmona: XVth century reliefs from a pulpit of S. Francesco della Scarpa: (left) St. Francis: (right) St. Anthony the Great
Museum of Sulmona: late XVth century fresco from S. Agostino (copy at S. Filippo) portraying the Virgin Mary between St. Lawrence and St. Augustine
Museum of Sulmona: wood paintings: (left) St. Barbara (XVIth century); (right) St. Onuphrius and St. Mary Magdalene (XVth century)
(left) Museum of Sulmona: XVth century Crucifix; (right) a similar Crucifix at the Diocesan Museum
XVIth century exhibits at the Diocesan Museum
Introductory page to this section
XVIIIth century Sulmona
Sulmona: Easter Day Ceremony (La Madonna che scappa - The Fleeing Madonna)