Lanciano - Second itinerary

Second itinerary: the quarter of  Lancianovecchia

Starting from piazza Plebiscito, with the Basilica at your back, walk along Via dei Frentani, situated after the door to the town hall on the right, where after a few metres you will find the firs stop of our itinary. The Fenaroli theatre.

The  Fenaroli Theatre

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Lanciano - Fedele Fenaroli theatreThe communal theatre, named after the Lancianese musician Fedele Fenaroli, who lived in the XVIII century, was projected in 1834 by the engineer Taddeo Salvini from Orsogna and by the architect Carlo Ponza from Naples and it was built at the beginning of the Frentani street on the site of the church of Saint Joseph Calasanzio that was linked to the religious college of the Scolopi Fathers.

In honour of the Borbone dynasty it was named after the dead Queen Maria Cristina di Borbone and lately called “San Francesco” after the crown prince son of King Ferdinand II.

Luigi Galluzzi from the San Carlo theatre in Naples was in charge of the internal decorations.

The official inauguration took place in 1847 when Ferdinand II of Borbone, the Queen and their retinues visited Lanciano. The theatre had been open since 1841 with the representation of the works of Bellini and Donizetti.

After 1861, the theatre was named after the musician from Lanciano Fedele Fenaroli, one of the most important scholars of the Neapolitan School of the end of 18th Century and later was a teacher at the Saint Peter a Maiella Music academy in Naples.

In 1869, the engineer Filippo Sargiacomo widened and reinforced the posterior part while in 1884 they improved the front. The columns were reinforced with stone slabs from the Vesuvius, and the three entrances were closed with iron doors, because they had been lowered to road level.

The interior was renovated in 1897 and again in 1938 when it was elevated and adapted as a picture house. In the 90s the theatre was completely restored with an intervention that restored the dome and the last order of booths.

Continuing climbing via dei Frentani, after a few metres, on the left, there is the Captain’s building.


The Captain’s building

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Lanciano - The captain's building

Originally the main façade of this building, that belonged to the Bocache and then to the Murri and later to the de’ Giorgio family, was in a neoclassical style, that looks onto via degli Agorai, on the opposite side to the one we see today.

With the demolition of St. Martin’s Church in 1848 and the creation of the square of Largo Tappia the modest front looked out onto the new square.

A first intervention of arrangement is evident above all in the portal, surrounded by two pilasters on which you still can read the initials of the Murri family, and on the window and balcony ledges on the first two floors.

The façade we admire today is dated back to 1923 when Captain Alfonso Cotellessa to whom the building owes its name, husband of a de’ Giorgio widow, projected and added a storey to the building and modernized the front in different styles with floral elements.

In the internal rooms, the decorations are very interesting and are dated from 17th to 20th Century.

The mirror loving room, that still has the original furniture and drapes in the Rocailles style, and the room of “Love and Psyche” whose walls are decorated with papiers peints that depict Greek myths, and whose vault was painted by the painter Vincenzo Gagliardi from Lanciano at the beginning of 20th Century are worth visiting.

Continuing on this street, after a few metres, on the left, there is the beautiful church of  Saint Agostino.

Saint Agostino

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Lanciano - Saint Augustine Church

Saint Augustine’s Church in the quarter of Lancianovecchia, belonged to the complex of the Augustinian’s Monestry built at the end of 13th Century.

The façade of the church shows evident connections with the front of Santa Maria Maggiore’s Church, that shows the hand of the sculptor Francesco Petrini.

The harmonious portal is framed by little spiral columns, floral embellishments and diamond points of refined execution.

In the lunette, whose a restoration carried out at the beginning of the 90s highlighted traces of the original colours, we can find a Madonna with Child figure.

Zoomorphic figures are among the decorative elements carry symbolic values that are very difficult to interpret today.Lanciano - Saint Augustine Church

The lion that subjects the goat represents the Triumph of Good over Evil, the crucifer Lamb is an image of Christ that offers himself like the Lamb.

Beneath the precious archivolt supported by suspended columns there is a rose window that having lost its radial remains the last decorative crown of acanthus leaves.

On the capstone there are still clear traces of the places where the round elements in majolica were.

In the inside, where the restoration has discovered the original structure of the late 11th century, we can see a set of plasters carried out during the 1730 by the sculptors Gerolamo Rizza and Carlo Piazzoli.

On the rightLanciano - Saint Augustine Church side of the wave there is the chapel of St Simon and Giuda Taddeo, whose relics were stolen in 1439 by a priest from Lanciano from same Venetian church. After the theft, there was a military expedition against the city of Lanciano to take back the relics but the Venetians, instead of disembarking in the harbor of San Vito, they destroyed according to the legend San Vito dei Normanni because of a navigation mistake.

Considering the reputation of the sailors of the Inhabitants of the Lagoon, the event was considered prodigious and an expression of the will of the relics to remain where they were.

On the bottom wall there is an alter screen of the late 16th century and in the central part there is the depiction of Sant’Agostino between San Michele Arcangelo and Sant’Apollonia.

The Church is home to the oldest brotherhood in town the Confraternita dei Santi Simone e Giuda Taddeo.

Following the same street after a few metres on the left there is the church of S. Croce, where the second miracle of Lanciano is kept, whose story sees a woman named Ricciarella as  protagonist.



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Lanciano - Second Eucharistic Miracle - Ricciarella

The small chapel with the beautiful front in stone with classical lines, linked to the huge building that belonged to the Baroni Fiore Gigliani family, was built in 1583, according to the recordings of the  second Eucharistic Miracle in Lanciano.

The tradition says that by the half of the 13th century in this house lived a girl named Ricciarella, married to the wheeler Jacopo Stazio, who took advice from an older woman, did not hesitate to place a consecrated host on a hot tile to retake her husband’s love.

    At the moment of the desecration the very small fragment, that changed into flesh, started to bleed and Ricciarella, horrified, wrapped the fragment in a cloth and buried it under the bedding straw in the stable.

The story continues saying that when Jacopo, in the evening, tried to get the donkey back into the stable, the donkey after many attempts went in on its knees.

Lanciano - Second Eucharistic Miracle - Ricciarella

Seven years after these facts, in 1280 Ricciarella, upset, confessed her sin to a friar in the adjacent monastery of Saint Augustine, who dug in the  place shown by the woman and recovered the cloth and inside there still was the bleeding fragment.

The friar took the relics to his hometown, Offida, in Marche, and from that moment the adoration of the three most sacred relics started.

The painting on the high altar shows Saint Augustine, in the middle, that is holding the Cruciform reliquary of the Eucharistic Miracle while at the sides there are two figures of saints with the relics of the roof tile and the cloth.

In 2003 two fragments, one from the roof tile where the host was placed and one from the cloth that wrapped it, were donated by the emeritus Archbishop from Ascoli Piceno to the parish of Saint Augustine and are kept in the artistic reliquary on the altar of the small oratory.

A few metres further up the street there is a beautiful example of a medieval house of the 15th century with the workshop.


Medieval Workshops

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Lanciano - Medieval Workshops

It’s in Piazza dei Frentani , where S. Maurizio’s Church used to be before being destroyed in the XIX century, that it is possible to find one of the most interesting civil buildings in the City.

‘Nicolao’s Workshops’ were named after the Merchant Nicolaus Rubeus who had them built in 1432 using architectural elements typical of the Burgundian gothic style; the date is quoted on the inscription walled up between the two central arches which were used as shop windows -with their stone benches- while the architraved portal was probably the entrance to the above apartment and the last arcade allowed to get into the real workshop. The linear architraved double lancet windows, upstairs, are instead the result of a restoration carried out during the 1930s that removed the nice big Renaissance stone windows. After a wedding the house passed from the De Rubeis to the De Arcangelis family.

Giovan Tommaso de Arcangelis was considered one of the richest gentlemen in AbruzLanciano - Medieval Workshopszo during the XVII century. He was a clergyman with many duties, as apostolic Prothonotary, Vicar and Administrator for S. Giovanni in Venere’s Abbey. He died from the plague in 1656, when he was already old, leaving a huge fortune.


On the right of Piazza dei Frentani you can see the old church of Saint Biagio.



Saint Biagio

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Lanciano - Saint Biagio Church

S. Biagio’s Church is the most ancient Church in Lanciano since it was already quoted in a 1059 document. On the evening of  the 3rd of February every year the church is open to believers and the traditional throat blessing takes place. Legend has it that, when he was on the way to the execution, the Saint Bishop saved a child who was choking on a fish bone only by putting his hand on his throat.

The interior, restored in the mid-20th Century is made of a simple covered truss nave but it still keeps an element from the old decorative apparatus; a very rare stucco lunette from the Renaissance period portraying the Annunciation.

The church has got a Crypt probably being the original church. The bell tower was built between 1345 and 1400. It’s a strong masonry tower with a pointed double lancet window in the second order raising over  the church and an elegant window, also a double lancet,  in the lower part.

At its basis there was originally S. Giorgio’s little chapel.

The church was  a Parish until 1827 and was kept open as a place of worship until 1860 when it was reduced to profane uses, in particular as rehearsal studio for the ‘Banda di Lanciano’; it has been reopened to cult in the postwar period when it became the headquarters of the Confraternita (Brotherhood) di Maria Santissima dei Raccomandati which moved there from the destroyed S. Giovanni’s Church.

Inside the church it’s possible to admire three wooden statues, the oldest one being S. Biagio’s dating back to the 14th century. Then there are the 18th century S. Isidoro Agricola’s statue made in the workshop of the Lancianese sculptor Domenico Renzetti  and the Madonna della Candelora masterwork due to the Neapolitan Baroque sculptor Giacomo Colombo.

Going down the slope after a few metres there is the door of Saint Biagio.

S. Biagio’s Door

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Lanciano - S. Biagio’s Door

S. Biagio’s door is the only survivor of the nine doors opening into the defence walls to enter the City.

The door, taking its name from the close church entitled to the homonymous Saint, protector of the powerful teasers brotherhood, is made of a simple pointed arch that dates it in the 13th century. The arch is made of sandstone, a largely used material in Lanciano, being at easy disposal. The progressive lowering of the road surface has hugely modified its proportion leaving the foundation elements exposed.

From S. Biagio’s door it was possible to enter the core of Lancianovecchio, simply pointing the bell tower of the homonymous church, or to reach  Plebiscito Square going through Via dei Bastioni.





Via dei bastioni

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Lanciano - Via dei Bastioni

The street called ‘Via dei Bastioni’ goes along the east side of the Lancianovecchio neighbourhood and creates a suggestive itinerary to discover Lanciano’s ancient fortifications.

Lancianovecchio’s bastions exploited the extreme slope of the ground to make the city safe without using actual walls.

According to the tradition, around the year 1000, the Norman Ugone di Malmozzetto was asked by the King to forced Lanciano city to reinforce the ‘fortilium balistrarum in porta contro mare’, identified as the area around S.Biagio’s door, and unify the different areas of the city using walls. Going along Via dei Bastioni it’s possible to notice some structures which reinforced, from the external, the safety of the defence system in the access points -close to the no more existing Porta di Pozzo Bagnaro which was built on the area where a street goes up from the lower valley.

These structures, probably dating back to the Aragonese period, are probably contemporary to those visible on the other fortified side of the city, the one that goes from S. Nicola’s Church to Torri Montanare to defend the neighbourhoods of Sacca and Civitanova.

Along the itinerary on the left it is possible to admire the Basilica dedicated to the Madonna and it’s entirely built on a bridge.

Go to the first itinerary Borgo quarter

Go to the third itinerary Civitanova e Sacca quarters

(Text by Domenico Maria Del Bello)