Traveling from North to South through Italy, by virtue of the intense and very ancient history associated with the country, one encounters buildings, palaces and constructions of every era and architectural style. Particularly prevalent are the Norman, Romanesque and Baroque styles, but there is no shortage of fascinating and interesting Gothic sites worthy of an in-depth visit. Let's look at some of the most beautiful Gothic architectural works found in the villages of Italy.
Veroli is a small medieval town in the province of Frosinone, in the heart of the beautiful Ciociaria region. Its landmark monument is Casamari Abbey, one of the most beautiful Cistercian monasteries in Italy built in the Gothic style. It was built in 1203 on the remains of the ancient Roman settlement of Cereatae and its name refers to the great Roman consul Gaius Marius. What is most striking is its facade, which features a large double-arched portico enriched by windows that, instead of glass, possess alabaster slabs. The Abbey also includes a library from 1036, an apothecary's shop from 1761, and an archaeological museum filled with Roman-era artifacts.
The village of Montesano sulla Marcellana, in the province of Salerno, dominates the Diano Valley in Cilento from its 850 meters above sea level, and its symbol is the majestic Church of Sant'Anna. It is a Gothic jewel built in the first half of the 20th century at the behest of Filippo Gagliardi, a local entrepreneur who emigrated to Venezuela. The facade displays decorations, pilasters, rose windows and statues, with two soaring bell towers that enhance its scenic impact. Inside, the beauty of the marble high altar with a small temple above it, guardian of the statue of St. Anne with the Madonna child, is striking.
This Cistercian abbey, located in Chiusdino, is one of the most iconic buildings in the Siena area and dates back to 1218. Today it is very reminiscent of crumbling Irish churches, lacking a roof and with grass instead of a floor. The walls, the now-blind windows, and the apse remain standing in an ancient and evocative atmosphere. The Gothic Abbey was built by Cistercian monks in honor of St. Galgano, the knight who gave up his wealthy life to become a monk. Not coincidentally, this pretty Tuscan village is apparently home to "the Sword in the Stone," since it was precisely the knight's sword that he drove into a rock, preserved in the nearby Hermitage of Montesiepi.
Not far from the center of Acquapendente, in the province of Viterbo, is the Castle of Torre Alfina, surrounded by a beautiful lush park, where centuries-old trees with twisted trunks and dense undergrowth reign supreme. Here stands the Gothic Mausoleum of Marquis Cahen, built in the 1800s at the behest, precisely, of Edward Cahen. His body is buried in this elegant travertine and gray stone tomb, complete with pyramidal roof.
Two pillars with pinnacles at the top wrap around the entrance to the Mausoleum, complete with a mullioned opening and travertine columns.
In the beautiful Sicilian village of Erice, although its original nucleus dates back to the fourth century AD, is the present version of the Royal Madrice Insigne Collegiate Church better known as the Cathedral of Erice. The building, in "fourteenth-century" Gothic, shows on its façade a scenic arched portal and a rose window formed by diamond ashlars. Next to it can be admired the crenellated bell tower about 30 meters high, from the top of which the entire village and distant Trapani can be seen.
The presence of Greek crosses inside shows that many elements of the cathedral come from the ancient temple dedicated to Venus Ericina: the church holds a highly venerated marble icon of the Virgin Enthroned from 1513.
The castle in the village of Fénis is one of the most famous medieval manors in the Aosta Valley. Located on a slight rise, it was the residence of the Challant-Fénis family. Admiring the castle, one is enchanted by its towers and crenellated walls that make it truly fairy-tale. Beyond the walls, one finds oneself in an enclosed courtyard surrounding the entire fortification, whose walls are entirely frescoed with decorations in the International Gothic style. Like other castles, that of Fénis seems to be haunted by a ghost: it would be a child killed by his wicked stepmother, who then hid his body within the very walls of this splendid castle.
Presule Castle stands in the South Tyrolean village of Fiè allo Sciliar, a Dolomite town situated in the shadow of the stunning Sciliar Plateau.
The fortress would date from around 1200, only to undergo a major restoration in 1517 at the behest of Leonardo di Fiè, making it an elegant Gothic castle. What was once the scene of cruel witch trials is now the site of important events such as the "Oswald von Wolkenstein Ride," a historic horse tournament involving the entire Seiser Alm.
Presule Castle also houses an interesting collection of armor and weapons, both modern and ancient, such as that of a samurai.
Ph. Castel Prösels