Visit to the Old Town Centre and the Surrounding Area
Coming from the plain below, where the Caina torrent flows, half way up the hill towards Magione stands the ‘Badia’, or the castle of the Knights of Malta. Originally a Benedictine abbey in Romanesque times, the structure later appears mentioned as the hospital of San Giovanni in the early 13th century until it was rebuilt as a castle in the mid 15th century by Fieravante Fieravanti, who joined togther the pre-existing buildings. The castle is not open to the public. In 1502 the nobles from Umbria and the Marches who had lost their lands to Cesare Borgia met here to forge an alliance against the son of Pope Alexander VI. In retaliation Borgia had them all murdered at Città della Pieve and Senigallia a year later. Not even Count Paolo Orsini and Duke Paolo Gravina managed to escape the revenge of this ruthless man, arguably one of the most colourful characters of his time. The castle was used as a residence of the Knights of Malta, with the name of mansio, a term that eventually gave the town of Magione its name, substituting its previous denomination as Pian del Carpine. Magione’s best known child is probably Giovanni da Pian di Carpine (1190-1252), the Franciscan friar who preceded Marco Polo in his Far Eastern travels when he went to the Great Khan of the Tartars as a messenger of Pope Innocent (1245-47). He also wrote the ‘Historia Mongolorum’.
A large scale painting remembering his deeds, by Gerardo Dottori, hangs in the council chamber of the Palazzo Comunale. Dottori also painted the frescoes on the ceiling, which feature views of all the villages in the Magione area. Dottori also completed an interesting cycle of frescoes in 1947 for the local church of San Giovanni Battista, which was restored during the 20th century. The church contains two frescoes attributed to the school of Pinturicchio.
By following the old road towards the lake, after 1 kilometre from Magione there is a turning to the left for Montecolognola, a fortified village that looks over the lake from a 410 metre high elliptical promontory. The dell’Annunziata church was altered between 1946 and 1947 but still contains 15th and 16th century frescoes inside. The triumphal archway is surmounted by a 1584 ‘Annunciation’ painted on Deruta majolica tiles.
The road that descends towards the lake and runs around it leads to Monte del Lago, a charming village that stands directly over the water. Its beauty so seduced Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria that he spent a holiday here in 1823.
The road that leads to San Feliciano passes by the ruins of what was once the largest castle in the area, the Castello dello Zocco. Built in 1274 on a pre-existing religious structure, only its perimeter walls are still standing today. The powerfully fortified 14th century Rocca Baglioni, or Pompili, is on a small hill a short distance away.
|Museo della Pesca|
Another typical fortified village is San Savino, not far off, on a circular hill that stands above the lake. It is dominated by a majestic triangular tower.
Other fortified villages of the area include Agello, Montemelino and Montesperello.
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