Traveling five minutes from Dimora Fontemaggio, you can visit Castignano.
Castignano is located on the slope of Monte Ascensione. The name comes from the Latin “lucus castineanus”. Indeed, a large chestnut forest surrounded the ancient medieval town and the chestnut tree is depicted on the coat of arms and also mentioned by the Latin writer Pliny. According to other historical sources, the name comes from the Roman consul Castino (424 a.C.)
During the eleventh century the city was large in size, but unfortunately was reduced due to many landslides. After a period under the protection of the monks of Farfa, began to be under the jurisdiction of Ascoli Piceno. In the second half of the 16th century, Pope Sixtus V placed the city under the episcopate Montalto Marche.
Castignano has the great merit of having given the Italian history the earliest Italic alphabet so far found. It is contained in the famous “stele of Castignano”: is a tufa rock which is now in the Archaeological Museum of Ascoli Piceno. It ‘a funeral stele that has the shape of a memorial stone roughly pyramidal.Scholars date it back to the sixth-seventh century BC. Registration is bustrophedic: alternately reads from right to left, from left to right. The alphabet seems to derive from a tradition greek-archaic or greek-Mediterranean origin from the Aegean-Anatolian. Today is preserved in Archaeological Museum of Ascoli Piceno.
Places of interest in Castignano
The old centre, with its Romanesque churches, Renaissance and medieval houses, its labyrinth of narrow streets looks very suggestive
Santa Maria del Borgo Church
The Church of Santa Maria del Borgo, called Templars’ church, shows in the present structure dates back to centuries XIV, two magnificent “portals” on the facade that runs along via Margherita, characterized by brick cornices. The left portal is topped by a panel with T (TAU), the symbol of the cross used in the Middle Ages and hired by the powerful Military Order of the Knights Templar; the other to the right bears the ancient coat of Castignano with chestnut on three hills. To the right stands the “bell tower” added in 1517.
Several historical evidences testify that the church was founded by the Templars before the arrival of the monks Benedictine, which they expanded and changed the church. A clear indication of what the adjoining hospital, working until the eighteenth century. The “hospitalium” always present in the churches of this order warrior.
Peter and Paul Church
It stands on the highest part of the city, it dates back to centuries XI and has a fourteenth-century structure in the Romanesque style. In the main facade is placed a magnificent “rosette” travertine with twelve columns arranged ray, with center the face of the “Redeemer” and a “portal” terracotta consists of three overlapping arches. The majestic “bell tower” of the fourteenth century, on the left side of the church, it houses a fresco of the fifteenth century, depicting the “Madonna and Child with St. Lucia.”
In the church, on the right wall fascinates the fresco of the “Last Judgment”, painted in the fifteenth century, with the description of the afterlife: the Angel who reads the book of life and the weighing of souls with the balance davanti to St Michael. They also show that, at the right hand of Christ as Judge, the “blessed” by the Angels serviti while, to your left, the “damned” are tortured by devils with pits Dante.
The crypt and Vittore Crivelli
The crypt is dating from the period Farfense, it is more aisles, divided by columns supporting vaults. The church has two remarkable frescoes: the first attributed to Vittorio Crivelli (XV sec.) depicting “The Madonna of Humility” or “Milk” between St. Augustine and St. Peter, the second by Vincenzo Pagani with the “Virgin with Child and Saints “including St. Rocco and St. Sebastian. The most notable is a “Pieta” sculpture in polychrome terracotta of Nordic art of the fifteenth century, Loved and venerated by Castignanesi since antiquity.
The Reliquary monstrance of the Holy Cross
In the Diocesan Museum Sistinum (set up now inside the Museum of Icone), you can admire one of the most valuable works: the “Reliquary monstrance of the Holy Cross” silver gilt, revered by Castignanesi, late Gothic work of jewelery, finely worked chisel, commissioned by the Conventual Friars nel1488 Ascoli goldsmith Pietro Vannini. It consists of a pedestal with the figures on enamel plates, one of which carries the coat of arms of Castignano. The central part consists of a small temple consists of six spiral columns where is placed a cross patriarchal the relics (fragments of wood of the column on which Christ was scourged) donated by Pope Nicholas IV in 1288.
The Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions
The museum collects a large number of ancient work tools, in many cases related to the activities carried out in the area since ancient times, such as the breeding of silkworms and the cultivation of green anise, and many curious objects related to popular tradition.
Most important events in Castignano:
To the Templars order and the medieval tradition each year in summer the festival “Templaria” is dedicated, a cultural event with theatre, music and dancing shows. An event, which every year recalls enthusiastic visitors. It consists in a representation of the atmosphere of the Middle Age through musics, acrobats and jesters. It is dedicated to Knight Templar, who were responsible of the defence of the Holy Land during Crusades. Moreover there will be Medieval menus’ banquets in the old town’s taverns, grottos or squares.
Of very old origins is the traditional Carnival of Castignano, which belongs, with a few others, to the Picene historical carnival. Very striking is the Moccoli parade. It’s a spectacle of colourful paper lanterns, which takes place on Shrove Tuesday and puts an end to the carnival.
The Historical Carnival of Castignano is linked to the “moccoli”: lanterns are multicolored, in the shape of diamonds with 4, 5 or 6 faces, of various sizes built with great skill by local artisans. Inside the lantern, in which, one side remains open, a candle is inserted that lights up before leaving for the procession of the Moccoli. After the unification of Italy, 1861, this custom was lost everywhere except Castignano, which preserved this tradition.
At the sound of the “Catubba“, a popular musical instrument consisting of a bucket and a broom pole. The first moccolo invade the streets of the medievalhamltes, inviting everyone to leave It takes place in the dark, without public lighting. The hamlet becomes a colorful river of colored lights and one in a crescendo of voices, light, and joy creates a magical atmosphere! An ancient and amazing rite aimed at exorcizing the ills of the past and to propitiate luck for the future and in a suggestive crescendo. At the end the fireworks that sanction the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent.