I am finally back from my field week in Rocca Imperiale! What an experience, Southern Italy is so scenic and beautiful!
A small congregation of only about 2,000 homes, the entire town is built into the side of a mountain. Rocca Imperiale is straight out of a storybook; its thin, cobblestone roads snake around small, colorful homes on its way to the medieval castle on the very top of the mountain. Built in the 15th century, this fortress was once one of the most important Greek trading posts and vantage points in all of Southern Italy. There are still holes in the foundation where secret passageways were laid for a straight route from the sea, only 4 kilometers away, to inside the castle.
My class went to work in the Church of Santa Maria in Cielo Assunta; it was first church built in the town beginning in 1239. There, we worked to restore the 17th century poliptic painting and sculptured frame of the main altarpiece. We also restored a few other small pieces from the interior of the church, and a few students worked on the door of the the former Franciscan monastery (16th century). The bed and breakfast we stayed in fed us abundantly and was very accommodating when taking my vegan diet into consideration. Every dish they made was produced with the fresh produce from around the area, molto delizioso!
I feel that I am absorbing so much while being immersed in the conservation and restoration processes our professor is teaching us on real works of art! Not to mention my Italian greatly improving from spending an entire week in a small Italian town where there was no internet, no phone service, and no English speakers aside from our professor. Another challenging but wonderful week in Italy! 🙂
It was a 9 hour drive from Florence to Rocca Imperiale…BUT a nice one 🙂
Europe is cool. They have roads through mountains.
First sites of Rocca Imperiale, the city on the side of a mountain!
My roommate Nina and a beautiful view from where we had to park near the base of the town; everything up from there was mainly walking only!
My roommates Nina and Dona exploring the town; Dona was very excited… hahah
Tiny doorways and cobblestone roads 🙂
Rocca Imperiale at dusk.
Every day there was gorgeous just like this! View of the facade of the Church my class worked in.
Interior of the Chiesa Madre (Mother Church).
Interior of the Chiesa Madre (Mother Church); you can see the scaffold over the altar we were restoring.
Ceiling of the Chiesa Madre.
Small shrine to the Maria della Nova; our class removed oxidation from the base.
Remnant of the original facade of the church from the 13th century.
Awesome, gruesome crucifixion displayed near the altar.
View of the altar with the scaffold still attached in the Chiesa Madre.
My class working on the poliptic altar.
Me dusting the wooden frame of the altar to prepare it for in-painting.
Professor Lorenzo Casamenti describing the process in which a past group of LdM students cleaned this previously brown-clothed sculpture to find the intricate gold detailing underneath.
Amazingly detailed sculpture near the altar.
My classmate Vicky restoring a painting from the Chiesa Madre with in-painting after she cleaned off the grime.
Door of the Monastery that I and three other students removed old, decrepit varnish from and sanded.
After six days of hard work, the fully cleaned, restored, and freshly varnished altar of the Chiesa Madre!
My classmates and I waiting to enter into the castle of Rocca Imperiale.
The Castle of Rocca Imperiale (15th century).
View from the Castle of Rocca Imperiale (15th century).
Sitting in a window made so archers who were defending the castle were protected by shooting through that tiny window behind me.
One of the original “secret passageways” from the castle to the sea, now closed up!
Large doorway in the interior of the castle that used to show a fresco, now deteriorated from lack of care during the 18th cenutry.
Lemon tree in the square at Rocca Imperiale.
Toured a lemon, orange, and kumquat grove on the outside of town in Rocca Imperiale.
Eating kumquats straight from the tree in Rocca Imperiale! They tasted like Starburst candy.
Olive tree in Rocca Imperiale, but olive season isn’t until the end of summer.
Toured a honey farm in Rocca Imperiale.
Toured a winery in Rocca Imperiale.
My mementos! Honey made from the pollen of orange trees and Rocca Imperiale’s famous Lemoncello liquor.
Dining room from the bed and breakfast in Rocca Imperiale.