TRAVVELLERS DURING THE CENTURIES #6_ The Waterfall discovered again

Posted on October 14, 2017

In a fresco of the XVI century in a sconsacrated church of Spoleto is possible to identify an ancient view of the Waterfall and above all, the landscape, for the first time, of the swamp formed by the Velino river. Incredibly, the landscape during the ancient time is not so different from the landscape that today we can admire.

The former church of San Lorenzo, actually called Sala Pegasus, is situated in Spoleto along via delle Terme, in front of the Rosari-Spada Palace. It is a very small church sconsacrated that until 1825 had a religious function. In 1972 some consolidation and restoration structural works gave the possibility to transform it in a place where organize exhibitions, meeting and cultural events of the city. Dedicated to san Lorenzo Illuminatore, a Syrian monk, bishop and local martyr dead in 576, arrive to Spoleto maybe after Isacco and Brizio to escape to the persecutions. He has called "the illuminated" for the miracle, relating to the blindness, that the tradition conferred him.

It is certified in the Sassovivo Abbey's documents because subject to it from 1138. Then became parish church in undefined time, suppressed by the pope Leone XII from Spoleto in 1825 and unified to the church of San Domenico, in that time called church of San Salvatore. At the beginning of the 1900s the church, the sacristy and the parish house, was totally abandonned, refugee for the homeless persons.

I, I discovered a fresco with the landscape of the Piediluco Lake and the Marmore Falls dated back to the XVI century with Madonna and the Child in glory, between two angels bringing roses (the conventional title of the fresco is in fact the Virgin of the roses) and the Saints Giovanni Battista and Antonio da Padova in adoration.

The date of the work is certain and the presence of the lake landscape of an irregular form where is the territory could be the Piediluco lake, that is what was the ancient and missing Lacus Velinus, dried out after the reclaim of the piana reatina did by Curio Dentato in the 271 BC. The analogies of this representation with that we find in the so-called Sala delle Vedute of the Bishop Palace in Terni (first half of the XVII century) and also in the map intitled Cadatupa Velini (pubblihed inside the volume Specula Physico-Mathematico-Historica in 1696), are clear. In all the three cases the lake is rich of water and the town is reconized by the presence of the two towers.

We can testify that the orography of the Marmore's cliff and the appearence of the Waterfall is similar to the nowadays conformation of the same. We can recognize the monte Mazzelvetta, on the right side of the river (in the frescoof the left side, where practically find the San Giovanni Battista's feet) and the rock spur on the other side (near where San'Antonio da Padova lies on), on the peak where in 1781, the observatory-tower called Specola of Pius VI was built.

In fact, for the first time, in an ancient art work has been depicted the swamp over the Marmore's cliff, where today we find only the depression of alluvial origin that is peculiare of the Marmore territory. Moreover the fresco shows us that the Waterfall wasn't so different, in its form, from today.

this new identification opens interesting sceneries of research, where I tell you about anoter time.

Saverio Ricci

Art Historic and Tour Guide

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