San Severino Marche is an Italian town of 12.343 inhabitants in the province of Macerata and is considered one of the most interesting and fascinating cities of art in the Marche. To the cultural interests are added the naturalistic ones, in fact there are several itineraries that cross the greenery.
The artistic heritage of San Severino Marche is strongly linked to the period of maximum autonomy of the municipality and to the lordship of the Smeducci: the numerous Gothic churches visible in the city and in the territory date back to this period, as well as the works left by the local pictorial school that had its greatest exponents in the Salimbeni brothers and in Lorenzo d’Alessandro, respectively at the beginning and end of the fifteenth century.
There are two nuclei: the Castle, ancient and almost uninhabited, on the top of Montenero, and the Borgo, developed starting from the sec. XIII along the slope. The heart of the city is the beautiful Piazza del Popolo, with its characteristic oval plan. On the southern side of the square stands the eighteenth-century Palazzo Comunale, while on the opposite side the rococo-style facade of the Church of San Giuseppe stands out. with the Clock Tower.
The square also houses the Feronia Theater, whose interior is in neoclassical style. The most important religious architecture buildings are: the Church of San Domenico, renovated in 1664; the Church of Misericordia, which preserves a canvas of Pomarancio and fragments of frescoes by Lorenzo Salimbeni, the Church of Sant’Agostino, or the New Cathedral, which preserves fifteenth-century elements and a late Gothic terracotta portal; the Old Cathedral, characterized by a fourteenth-century facade and a portal surmounted by a small aedicule.
The “Giuseppe Moretti” Archaeological Museum is located in the premises of the adjacent episcope. Interesting is the Church of San Lorenzo in Doliolo, which, according to tradition, was founded by the Basilian monks in the 6th century on the ruins of a pagan temple.
The main attraction is the Civic Art Gallery, housed in Palazzo Tacchi Venturi. It mostly collects local school paintings from the confiscation of ecclesiastical property in the years following the unification of Italy, and in part works loaned by the diocese and frescoes detached for conservation reasons. In one room an entire chapel was rebuilt with the Stories of San Giovanni Evangelista painted by the Salimbeni; among the other works worthy of mention are masterpieces by Pinturicchio, Niccolò Alunno and Vittore Crivelli, Paolo Veneziano, Lorenzo D’Alessandro and Bernardino di Mariotto.
Let’s discover together all the beauties of this enchanting city of art!
Piazza del Popolo
Large and harmonious, Piazza del Popolo di San Severino is the center of the city, has a characteristic elongated and elliptical shape and is surrounded by arcades. The planimetric system and its dimensions refer to the ancient function of marketplace, but its current configuration is the result of architectural interventions that go from the beginning of the ‘400 to the end of the 800. The town hall, the Feronia theater and the church of San Giuseppe overlook the square, among other buildings.
The origin of the square, called “merchant stalls” or even “maior stalls” dates back to the thirteenth century, when the inhabitants of the Castle came down for their commercial activities in the plain below. Elliptical in shape, mostly arcaded, it was rearranged in 1937 and enriched by two travertine fountains. Numerous public and private buildings surround it and which, even built in different centuries, give architectural unity to the whole.
On the southern side there is the Town Hall built in 1764 on a project by the Roman architect Clemente Orlandi, it has two floors with a brick facade. Outside the portico, on the sides of the entrance, there are two bronze busts, depicting Bartolomeo Eustachio, a famous 16th-century doctor, and Ercole Rosa, a 19th-century sculptor, both settempedani.
The main floor, still perfectly preserved, develops in an escape of nineteenth-century decorated and furnished rooms. The hall of the coats of arms, painted by Raffaele Fogliardi, proposes in the frieze the noble shields of the Sanseverinato families. The Palazzo houses the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art which also includes the Filippo Bigiolli collection (1798 – 1878) which carried out its activity between Rome and the Marches. The Palazzo Gentili di Rovellone, from 1524, has a beautiful facade with rusticated porch and Guelph windows.
Also on the square, there is the Feronia theater which was built in 1827 to a design by Ireneo Aleandri, in the place where the eighteenth-century theater was destroyed by fire. The elliptical shape of the square leads towards Palazzo Franchi, then Servanzi Collio, from 1539, built in terracotta with a high ashlar base. The originally arched windows have stone ornaments.
During the restoration works during the 1800s, commissioned by Count Severino Servanzi Collio, a secret staircase was found, next to the large staircase, which led from the basements to the covered terrace, and a pit with knife blades on the walls.
The Feronia theater is a theater in San Severino Marche.
Its construction was finished in 1747 and initially it was called Teatro dei Condomini, it assumed its current name on May 31, 1828, when it was decided by some aristocrats of San Severino Marche to name it after the goddess Feronia, to whom a temple was dedicated that stood in the valley of the Potenza river.
After the demolition of the Palazzo Consolare, the town of the Marches remained without a public theater, so it was decided to build one in the mid-eighteenth century, entrusting the project to Domenico Bianconi, who designed a wooden structure. However, due to the incendable material, the structure was considered unsafe, and it was then that in 1823 it was decided for a reconstruction in masonry, which was conducted by the fellow citizen Ireneo Aleandri. Inside the theater there are pictorial decorations executed, among others, by Filippo Bigioli.
Once the first renovations were completed, the theater in its modern design was inaugurated with the execution of two works by Gioacchino Rossini.
The theater remained inactive from 1961 to 1985 for a restoration, when today’s structure was inaugurated on March 29th of the same year and an opera concert was held for the occasion with the participation of the famous soprano Katia Ricciarelli.
Pinacoteca Comunale Tacchi-Venturi
The Pinacoteca originates from the need to safeguard the works collected by the Municipality which, after the suppression of many religious bodies following the decree of 7 July 1866, passed to the municipal administrations to be then destined for public enjoyment. The collection was placed in some rooms of the Town Hall where it remained until 1974, the year of the inauguration of the new headquarters, the Palazzo Tacchi Venturi, a fifteenth-century building that incorporates an ancient lookout tower.
Dedicated to Father Tacchi Venturi, a well-known Sanseverinate scholar of the history of religions whose heirs donated most of the Palace to the city where it is currently set up, the Pinacoteca includes, among other things, the polyptychs of Vittore Crivelli (1440 – 1502), Niccolò Alunno (c. 1430 – 1502) and Paolo Veneziano, the altarpiece by Lorenzo Salimbeni (not. 1374) some paintings by Lorenzo d’Alessandro (not. 1462 – m. 1503) and works granted by the Episcopal Curia which retains the property.
These include a deposed Christ of the thirteenth century, the Madonna della Pace by Pinturicchio (c. 1454 – 1513) and the Madonna del Soccorso by Bernardino di Mariotto. Of great interest are the frescoes from urban and suburban churches, some of the fourteenth century, which together with the works of the Salimbeni brothers of San Severino, Lorenzo and Jacopo, constitute a true anthology of late gothic Sanseverinate painting.
With the project “The Museum of all and for all” a sensory tactile path was created, the resin relief of a detail of the Madonna della Pace by Pinturicchio, room cards in braille and the catalog with relief drawings and braille texts dedicated to the Salimbeni brothers, Lorenzo and Jacopo, protagonists of that linguistic renewal in the international sense of the fifteenth century of the Marche.
Located in the Valle dei Grilli, the original building, dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo di Domora, with a hermitic imprint, was built in the 11th century. by the Benedictines near a probable stonemason’s village, hence the term Domora, meaning houses, and a road that crossed the gorge. During the thirteenth century, between 1263 and 1281, we witnessed an expansion intervention with the consequent dedication to Sant’Eustachio; the monastery that distinguished itself for its intense hospitality, accommodation for travelers and for the wonders offered by the dripping of the water from the caves, received numerous donations that enriched it with many land properties and assets. However, documents show a progressive decline already during the following century, with a total abandonment of the monastery at the end of the fourteenth century.
The almost completely stone wall structure is grafted onto the rocky boulder which it dug, constitutes with its artificial caves the other half of the internal spatiality of both the upper church and the underground rooms. San Severino: S. Eustachio in Dòmora trilobate and above two other long and narrow also trilobed, the circular rose window stands out on the top, decorated with a ring with plant motifs.
The upper internal space consists of a single room in stone masonry, cross-vaulted with stone ribs and brick sails, to which a cave carved into the rock connects. On the lower floor there are three vaulted rooms on the sides of a central barrel-vaulted corridor, two of which facing through the small three-lobed single-lancet windows of the facade along the main street and the other located inside, partly excavated in the rock.
The side access door to the church is of fine workmanship, inserted inside a vault, entirely in finely squared stone blocks, with archivolt decorated with plant motifs of acanthus leaves.
To the right of the portal, in the tax wall of the vault covering the space in front, there are stone decorations with round arches and asymmetrical rose window above, of the same shapes and proportions as others located in the monastery of San Lorenzo.
Of historical-artistic interest the revered wooden Crucifix of Saint Eustachio, work of the thirteenth century. now preserved inside the abbey of S.Lorenzo.
The Castle of San Severino Marche
The architectural complex of the Castle, on the top of Monte Nero, is counted among the places to see in San Severino Marche. The structure was built in the early Middle Ages, following the destruction of the ancient Roman city of Septempeda of which remains remain in the locality of Pieve. The Septempedans then decided to move from the valley to erect the new city beyond the Potenza river, on the top of Monte Nero, in order to repel future invasions more effectively.
The rebuilt city was baptized with the name of Severino, bishop of Septempeda in the mid-sixth century, giving rise to the settlement that we still see today. On the summit of Monte Nero are the symbols of medieval power, still symbols of the city. On the Piazzale degli Smeducci overlooks the Torre del Comune, later called degli Smeducci, built in the thirteenth century with functions of defense, sighting and signaling to the other towers of the castles of the municipal area.
The bas-relief of the Ghibelline Lion Passante is walled on this tower, a faction to which San Severino joined, in constant struggle with the Guelph Camerino. Higher up, a very controversial bas-relief would represent the scale of the Smeducci coat of arms, but tradition recognizes the representation of a horse bite, made to be affixed by the Lords when they returned from one of the many hunts they underwent, to show that since then they would keep the city forward as they do with horses. On the opposite side is the Ancient Cathedral, which preserves the remains of the patron Saint Severinus who according to legend was transported here from the Septempeda tomb after the barbaric devastation thanks to prodigious miracles.
The building dates back to the beginning of the first millennium and this is evidenced by the conspicuous building layers. Inside there is a very precious and still functioning organ of 1671 attributed to Giuseppe Catarinozzi. It is a sixteen-octave low foot that preserves the phonic material intact with 700 twisted rods and a beautiful golden case.
It is called Elcito and it is a suggestive and isolated enchanted village in the Marche region. It rises on the slopes of Monte San Vicino, perched on a rocky outcrop of the mountains of the Marche hinterland at 821 meters above sea level. Due to its altitude it is also called the Tibet of the Marches. Compared to the classic Marche villages nestled on rolling hills, Elcito represents one of the few exceptions. The small town is part of the municipality of San Severino Marche, in the province of Macerata.
The name Elcito comes from elce, or holm oak (Quercus ilex). A plant that in post-glacial times had also extended to the more inland areas than the coast. This country has a particular history and aspect, which give it an unquestionable charm.
It’s better to visit Elcito in winter, with the snow and the magic of the twilight lights that make it look like a small crib. The hamlet of Elcito is perhaps the most suggestive locality of the Municipality of San Severino Marche in the San Vicino area; the small village called “Andean” is a real jewel surrounded by defensive walls and gathered around the church of S. Rocco, a true impregnable bastion to guard the path that rose from the valley of S. Clemente to the abbey of Val Fucina, defended it integrity and riches.
Depopulated in recent decades, it has become a holiday resort, which has allowed the recovery of buildings otherwise destined for ruin. The residents are fewer than five, all elderly, while most of the well-restored houses are used as a holiday home. Fortunately, the place is intact, and the interventions carried out respected the original architectural typologies.
The group of houses, with the parish church, is characterized by small windows, as well as doors, built in this way in order to minimize the consequences of the cold. Outside the summer months, a silence of peace, broken only by the sound of the wind that sometimes blows impetuously, accompanies the visitor and the hiker. There are no public places, while there are sources with abundant fresh water.
The church, built in 1901, houses a beautiful wooden choir, two handcrafted confessionals and a painting by Maria Desolata behind a “privileged perpetual” altar.
Church of S. Severino Vescovo – Ancient Cathedral
The church, dating back to the 10th century, was rebuilt and enlarged in the 11th century. and completed with the fourteenth-century bell tower. The interior preserves a beautiful wooden choir inlaid and carved by Domenico Indivini at the end of the 1400s. The body of the holy bishop Severino, who died in 545, was transported in 590 by the settempedans to the Monte Nero hill which had been elected to civil and religious headquarters. after the devastation of Septempeda by the Goths of Totila.
From then on, the new settlement will take its name. The church, dating back to the 10th century, was rebuilt and enlarged in the 11th century. and completed with the fourteenth-century bell tower with mullioned windows built in the typical severies facies and the coeval Gothic brick facade, embellished with a notched rose window, a travertine shrine with three lobed arches, resting on columns with Corinthian capitals, and a beautiful portal with spiral columns.
The interior, remodeled in the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, preserves a beautiful wooden choir inlaid and carved by Domenico Indivini at the end of the 1400s, his masterpiece together with that in Assisi. At the back of the church stands the precious organ of Giuseppe Catarinozzi with the choir carved and gilded by the French Denis Pulvier (17th century).
They are now kept in the “P. Tacchi Venturi “the precious frescoes by Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni with the stories of San Giovanni Evangelista (early 15th century) and an antependium on leather (18th century) depicting the transfer of the body of San Severino from Septempeda to Monte Nero whose remains they are kept in a lateral votive chapel.
After extensive renovations, the church was reopened for worship on June 8, 2010.
Large beech forest of Canfaito
This is a magical place in Marche region, where nature reigns supreme. This is Canfaito, a large plateau located on the slopes of Monte San Vicino, at about 1000 meters above sea level, inside the Monte San Vicino and Monte Canfaito Regional Nature Reserve.
Here, you can stroll through the centuries-old beech trees and meet the oldest beech tree of the Marche, inserted among the 300 monumental trees of Italy. To take us on this journey will be some wonderful photographs, kindly granted by a group of passionate photographers. The images were taken in autumn, but every season is good for walking in this place that will regenerate you with new energies and refresh your spirit.
Canfaito derives from the Latin “campum faiutum” and means “field of beech trees”. There is no more suitable name to express with one word everything that you try to immerse yourself in the largest concentration of superfaggi in our region.
Here, you will find the largest beech tree in the Marche, included among the 300 monumental trees in Italy, in the homonymous publication of the Forestry Corps. He is the undisputed king of the beech forest, along with two other young specimens.
Canfaito can be reached from San Severino Marche, in the province of Macerata, via the road that leads to the castle of Elcito, another great wonder of this place. Continue for three or four kilometers on a winding road until you reach a dirt road that leads into a beech forest.
At the exit of the woods, the road becomes easier and a little further on you will find two bars, almost always open. You will see the only construction of the place and beyond that the series of extraordinary beech trees begins. These real patriarchs of nature were saved from the cuts because the shepherds, during the hot hours of the summer months, took refuge there seeking shelter among their large foliage.
The path is defined by the locals as “the avenue of the giants” because two of them have even exceeded 500 years, one 400 and then the other from 200 years onwards.
Beyond the building, on the edge of the road, you will meet the undisputed king of the beech forest of Canfaito who will capture your gaze with his massive figure. The tree should be more than 500 years old, according to what Don Eugenio Angeloni, archpriest of the Cathedral Chapter, to which the beech wood belongs, said about 30 years ago.
Hypothesis supported by the comparison of two measurements carried out over a long period of time: one in 1982 which measured its circumference of 6.15 m; the other in 2006 of 6.42 m. In 24 years, an increase of 27 cm is absolutely in harmony with current measurements.