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MASSAQUANO - SAN SALVATORE

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The term "Massae Aequanae" was likely used in the past to indicate general settlements in a large territory, with the casale of Massaquano probably being the most consistent one. At 330 metres above sea level, Massaquano therefore likely has early mediaeval origins, owing its population to security reasons popular at the time: rural masses that settled in the plains moved to the hills for refuge, essentially altering the scenery so that the once sparsely-placed farmhouses were replaced by the rambling “borghi”. The long and narrow square is characterized by two buildings from the 1300s: the curch Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista all'Olmo upstream, and downstream the small chapel Cappella di Santa Lucia, decorated in late Giotto style frescos, which a surviving foundation document assigns to 1385. This rare and surprising gem is a treasure of the late 1300s painting style, and the most precious finding in the entire territory: the iconography is fascinating and at times enigmatic, the pictorial quality is highly qualified, the states of conservation and restoration are excellent, and rarely is it possible to view and investigate such work so up close. Next to the Chiesa dell’Olmo is the Oratorio di Santa Maria a Chieja, ancient seat to the Confraternity which, every year on Pentecost Tuesday, moves in procession the solemn and beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary, garbed in festive clothing quilted in gold, underneath a spectacular shower of rose petals. Not far from Massquano is the borgo of San Salvatore, a rural settlement around the church by the same name. Along the small road branching off the church we arrive to the small church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, built on the site where farmers discovered a fragment of painted wall with the image of the Virgin. The same pathway, through uncontaminated nature and breathtaking views, leads to the cave Grotta del Romito, where an unknown, faithful hand modelled the image of the Holy Family. From San Salvatore, turning downstream, is the “contrada di Avigliano”, where a more careful eye will identify parts of the structure and carvings of Catalan matrix. .

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