The fortresses tell a story
The two impressive fortresses and the defensive system composed by walls and forts dominate the River Nera Park and tell the centuries-old story of the area. They were both built between the 12th and 13th century on the side of Mount Solenne along the right bank of the River Nera (Matterella) and on the side of Mount Sant'Angelo along the left bank (Precetto).
This itinerary leads to the narrow streets of both sides of Ferentillo and allows the discovery of 'hidden treasures', like the Museum of Mummies, where the remains of the old inhabitants of the town can be seen.
Furthermore the itinerary guides up to the fortresses, from which one can enjoy a wonderful view of the Nera Valley (Terni side).
The church is characterised by a high bell tower and was built in the 13th century on the remains of a former paleochristian temple.
The current outlook of this parish church dates back to the 15th century. Over the main portal there is a lunette with the fresco: Vergine con il bambino (“Virgin Mary with Child”), attributed to the 16th century painter from Perugia Orlando Merlini. Inside, chapels with frescoes dating from the 16th and 17th century by Jacopo Siculo, who painted them in 1543, namely:
Padre Eterno e Santa Lucia (“Eternal Father and St. Lucy”), Agata, Caterina, Barbara e Apollonia (Sante Martiri) (“Agatha, Catherine, Barbara and Apollonia marthyrs), Sant’Antonio Abate (“St. Anthony the Abbot”) can be seen. Madonna del Rosario (“Our Lady of the Rosary”) by P. Cesarei; Madonna della Cintola ed Incredulità di San Tommaso (“Our Lady of the belt and Incredulity of St. Thomas”) by Piermatteo Piergili painted in 1557; Madonna tra i Santi Antonio e Bibiana (“Our Lady among St. Anthony and St. Bibiana”), from 1608 can also be seen. In the aspis some 15th- century frescoes are on display: Annunciazione (“Announcement”), Pietà and a fresco dedicated to St.Lucy, painted by Orlando Merlini in 1507.
Behind the altar there is a 16th century Madonna con Bambino (“Our Lady with Child”).
Santa Maria's Church hosts over fourty esoteric symbols sculpted on stones; for this reason it has been defined as 'Italy's Rennes-le-Chateau', since it has been holding the secrets of the Templar Knights along with those of the Cybo Family for over five centuries.
« Oggi a me, domani a te, io ero quel che tu sei, tu sarai quel che io sono. Pensa mortal che la tua fine è questa e pensa che ciò sarà ben presto. »
“Today for me, tomorrow for you. I am what you are, you'll be what I am. Mortal, think that this is your end and it'll be soon.”
This is the inscription over the entrance door of the Museum of Mummies , located in the crypt of Santo Stefano's Church.
After the issue of the Edict of Saint Claud by Napoleon in 1806, the exhumation of the deads that had been buried in the crypts for centuries begun. The exhumed bodies were found perfectly mummified, most likely due to chemical-physical processes, which are still under survey.
Thanks to these particular conditions, today mummified corpses still preserving many elements of their life and, in some cases, giving elements of the cause of their death can be observed.
In the crypt, some remains of fine frescoes dating back to the 14th and 15th century can also be seen.
For information and visits: www.mummiediferentillo.it
The main part of the church was built in the 14th century. In the 16th century the Cybo-Malaspina Family built a new Renaissance building on the original part. On the facade the clock, the rose window and the portal can be observed, all dating back to the 18th century. Inside there are some remains of 15th century frescoes:
Presepio e Madonna con Bambino (” Nativity and Our Lady with Child”) painted by Jacopo Siculo's disciples; Martirio di S. Stefano ( “Martyrdom of St. Stephen”), by G. Rosi in the 18th c. and Madonna del Rosario (”Our Lady of the Rosary”), 18th century. The Museum of Mummies can be found in the crypt of the church.
The fortress and all the defensive buildings were built to guarantee protection of Precetto. Centuries after the construction of the fortress, the mountain sloping towards the valley led to the damage of the medieval building, leaving just some remains of it.
It was built to guard the road to Monteleone di Spoleto going up along the stream Fosso del Castellone and it was one of the fortresses belonging to a defensive system created during the Middle-Ages to protect the major roads of the Lower Nera Valley.
The fortress stands on the top of a mount on the right bank of the River Nera. It is composed by a big quadrilateral tower guarded by a strong fortified tower in the three corners. It belongs to the past defensive system of the major roads crossing the area and nowadays it is an excellent example of a medieval fortress built to protect the old settlement of Matterella; the modern part of Matterella develops below the old part, where Santa Maria's Church is. The view from the fortress is astonishing: Lower Nera Valley and, upstream, the narrower Nera Valley with the sight of the village Monte San Vito along with the peak of Mount Eremita.