Located on the slopes of the Monti Lepini, Sermoneta is one of the most charming medieval towns of Lazio. It is accessed by a winding road that goes directly from the Pontine Plain, offering as increasingly broad landscape: the country appears in a beautiful stretch, completely surrounded by massive walls and all perched on his olive trees hill, around a imposing castle.
Heir, according to tradition, the ancient Volscian city of Sulmo, the origins of today’s Sermoneta date back to the Middle Ages, however, when in this safe place, away from the coast is, torn by Saracen raids, both by the malarial plain, began to develop a fortified village.
Subsequently, since the thirteenth century, it became prosperous stronghold of Caetani Sermoneta, Lazio historic family where the town tied their stories (except for a brief period of submission to Borgia) until the Age Contemporanea. Sermoneta has been for decades a popular tourist destination due to the presence of the magnificent Castle Caetani, among the best preserved in the region. Plausibly erected in the eleventh century, but modified and extended between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the castle has an impressive thirteenth-century square tower and a large and scenic courtyard, dominated by a magnificent fifteenth-century palace in fake rustication. The visit to the Caetani Castle, with its “Rooms Pints” (possibly by a pupil of Pinturicchio), its charming medieval decor, its drawbridges and its secret passages, an indispensable and exciting.
Very impressive the long covered walkway (the so-called “Great Battery”) that, through a section of the wall, allowing access to the walkway, which offers a splendid view on the country side between Sermoneta and Norma and the mountains behind.
In summer the place becomes noble stage of the Pontino Festival, the prestigious classical music festival which attracts masters and composers from around the world. Another important monument is also the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, built in the Romanesque style before the tenth century on the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to the goddess Cybele. A basilica plan and in the Romanesque-Gothic style, with clear references Cistercians (who restructured it in the twelfth century), the church is characterized by the narrow gothic porch and the slender Romanesque bell tower of stone and bricks ( “beheaded” in the sixteenth century by a lightning). The interior has three naves with cross vaults, it contains many works of art, including two holy water fonts, a medieval and the other Renaissance, an eighteenth-century wooden choir, the Baroque altar crucifix newsstand and the medieval one of the side chapels, as well as several frescoes (notable ones fifteenth of Benozzo Gozzoli in the chapel De Marchis). In the church, dark and dimly lit, the atmosphere is gloomy and dramatic: disturbing is the fresco, hidden and very deteriorated, painted right on the counter, which shows in a terrible the seven deadly sins. After the cathedral, worthy of note is the small church of San Michele Arcangelo (or Sant’Angelo), which is set in the medieval heart of the village, opposite a beautiful tower house, now used as a hotel. The church, built on the ruins of an ancient temple where he was worshiped goddess Maia, and whose origins date back to the eleventh century (the Gothic appearance is attributable to the second half of the twelfth century), has a small porch very shabby and is characterized by an asymmetric plant. Inside, three narrow aisles and ceiling vaults, are preserved an eighteenth century organ, a seventeenth-century baptistery and a fresco depicting the Crucifixion. In the crypt they can admire fifteenth century frescoes.
Apart from the main monuments, however, it must be said that is without doubt the same old town as a whole to deserve a careful visit: walking in its maze of narrow (and sometimes narrow) streets, including old houses in limestone, you can admire the architectural and decorative elements of great value as mullioned windows, coats of arms, rusticated portals, arches and ogee, arcades and tower-houses, but also of historical importance and artistic buildings such as the Loggia dei Mercanti, with its arches, the Renaissance Church of the Annunciation, the fifteenth-century Town Hall and the Jewish synagogue; the Belvedere, opposite the picturesque Via delle Scalette, you can admire a vast panorama on the plain below and the Pontine coast. Along the fifteenth century walls, however, it has recently set up a footpath that winds through olive groves and pleasant terraces.
But also the environs of Sermoneta are of the greatest interest. About a kilometer from you first find the Convent of San Francesco, which is situated along the scenic Via San Francesco. The monastic complex, flanked by the cemetery, was born in the twelfth century as a fortress of the Templars, who remained there until 1312. After the suppression of the order were replaced by the so-called “Fraticelli Franciscans”, hermits who watched orthodox interpretation of the “doctrine Francis of Assisi “, and that, of course, also they found refuge in Bassiano, in the mysterious cave of Selvascura. Soon, however, the friars suffered ferocious persecution and left the monastery, which in 1495 was donated by Pope Alexander VI to the Friars Minor. To this day started, however, the huge old oak in front of the church, planted just by virtue of the Pope on the occasion of the donation. A century later, the convent passed to the said friars reformed “Zoccolanti”, that they would remain until 1873. It belonged in all probability even to the Knights of Malta, as evidenced by the two crosses painted on the columns of the church porch. Of extraordinary suggestion is then Valvisciolo Abbey, situated on a balcony at the foot of Monte Corvino and dedicated to the first martyr St. Stephen. According to tradition, the complex, their bare stone and characterized by the austere Cistercian-Gothic style, was founded in the eighth century by Greek Basilian monks of San Nile, already active in Grottaferrata. The Cistercians, who still live in the abbey, were active at the time substantial changes to its original structure, giving it its present appearance, with the interior of the church with no transept and three naves, divided by large arches and vaults acrociera. It preserves an enchanting cloister, among the most elegant of Lazio in stone and decorated with flowers and climbing plants, offers immediately, as soon as you enter it, a medieval atmosphere full immersion. A trip to this beautiful village and its direct surroundings, in itself very rewarding, it can also keep stimulating surprises for fans of mysteries. Little know fact that Sermoneta and its territory preserve most traces not only the presence of the Templars in England (presence, as already mentioned, here historically apparent in the Convent of Saint Francis), but also of their complex misteriosofica doctrine.
I would term the many symbols found in its most important sacred buildings, almost always characterized by an evident Cistercian mark: order, this notoriously linked to the mysterious monk-knights. Among the most interesting signs must include at least the
“Triple Druidic Cinta” and the famous “Sator”. Laprima is engraved a bit ‘anywhere in the country and especially on the churches of St. Michael the Archangel and the Annunciation and the Santa Maria Assunta; the second is admired graffiti (with even the Triple Cinta) in the cloister of Valvisciolo.
Symbols of remote origins and probably Celtic origin, the meaning of which is esempre discussed and still is today, it seems that the Templars, might “mark” the places that gave an exceptional sacred value and telluric, selected according to occult knowledge about energies of Nature. The present temple is supported also by old tales handed down by local tradition, especially regarding Valvisciolo: in the basement of the abbey would be, in fact, the fabulous treasure of the Templars (which here would be hidden by the monks-knights at the end of 1308, following the first arrests in France by Philip the Fair), while the visible crack on the portal confirms the famous medieval legend that, when on March 18, 1314 was burned at the stake the last Templar Grand Master, Jacques de Molay , the lintels of all Templar churches were split. In any case, apart from the fairy-tale elements, it is known fact that the Knights of the Temple settled for a time in Valvisciolo, maybe at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth century, as evidenced by the Templar cross carved on the left side of the oculus central rosette.
The Castle Museum
Open to the public: Yes
Sale visited: All
antique furnishings: Yes
Winter – morning: 10 – 11 – 12 – afternoon 14 – 15 – 16
Summer – morning: 10 – 11 – 12 – afternoon 15 – 16 – 17 -18