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A Frazione of Poggiodomo

A town in SE Umbria, a frazione of Poggiodomo: 42°41.5N, 12°56E. Altitude: 1001 m. Population in 2001: 13.

[image ALT: A clump of about forty 2‑ and 3‑story houses on a low ridge; behind it three successively higher ridges of hills and mountains, mostly forested with pine. It is a view of the village of Usigni in the comune of Poggiodomo, Umbria (central Italy).]

Usigni is a small village just off the road from Leonessa in the Lazio and Monte­leone di Spoleto (23 km and 8 km S, respectively) to Cerreto di Spoleto (19 km N); it is about 2½ km S of Poggiodomo, of which it is a frazione. I walked that entire road in May 2004, in three slow days, one of the most enjoyable walks of my life, and so thru Usigni: my diary entry for May 12, 2004 will give you a bit more context and feel for the area.

Just how small Usigni is, is hard for me to say. The 2003 census gives the comune as a whole just 165 inhabitants and the four villages all look pretty much the same size (see my photos on the Poggiodomo and Roccatamburo pages), so Usigni apparently has about 40 inhabitants — but the official 2001 figure for Usigni is a mere 13 inhabitants. On the other hand just look at these houses, and count them while you're at it. My solution is that many of the houses you see above must be empty, or seasonal residences belonging to people who live elsewhere most of the time, as is definitely the case in Leonessa up the road; but finally that's just a guess. If you have firmer information, please drop me a line, of course.

Small as she is, Usigni had a famous son to whom she owes her principal monuments: Fausto Poli (1581‑1653), private secretary to Pope Urban VIII and created cardinal by him in 1643, was born here and kept his home town's interests at heart, and his embellishments are very much in evidence: S. Salvatore its main church (built between 1631 and 1644 under the general supervision of Bernini), a nice house for himself as well, and a beautiful well-head that some attribute to that same celebrated Roman architect and that yours truly somehow managed not to see; the Usignani are quite proud of it, considering it the principal monument in town, and I've been regretting my oversight ever since.

Cardinal Poli's work for the town was more important than mere decoration, however. He sought to improve the region's economy by developing the local iron mines; and he was also so greatly devoted to the Blessed (now Saint) Rita of Cascia, to the adornment of whose church in that town he contributed, only 10 km away, that he is considered by some to have been the main force in establishing her cult and popularity: she remains a living and essential part of Usigni to this day.

Usigni in turn remembers Cardinal Poli; by the customary plaque of course, but also:

[image ALT: A small rectangular space bordered by three row-houses on the left, and on the right a glimpse of a similar house, with a low wrought-iron fence in the foreground. At the end of the piazza, an essentially undecorated 2‑story plastered stone church in the classical style: the ground floor has a single door surmounted by an arched pediment; separated from it by a thin horizontal course of stone with an inscription, the second floor has a blank rectangular niche; above a shallow-sloping gable bears a stone escutcheon. It is the Piazza Fausto Poli, the main square of the village of Usigni in the comune of Poggiodomo, Umbria (central Italy), and the parish church of S. Salvatore.]

The main square of Usigni, leading up to the church of S. Salvatore,
is the Piazza Fausto Poli.

[image ALT: A 2‑story rectangular building, of plastered stone, the upper story inset, both stories with shallow-sloping tiled roofs. A small square belfry, with a large arch on each face, also roofed with tile, projects one further story above the main roof. It is a side view, from the west, of the church of S. Salvatore of Usigni in the comune of Poggiodomo, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 6/5/05: 1 page, 5 photos ]

The church of S. Salvatore, built by Cardinal Poli, is the principal monument of Usigni. The page gives you a closer look at it, although — for now — not as close as one might wish!

[image ALT: A zzz. It is a war memorial plaque in Usigni, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 6/5/05: 3 pages, 5 photos ]

One of the things to strike the visitor's eye in Usigni is the assortment of commemorative plaques of various kinds; although of course there is no shortage of such inscriptions in other little towns, this crop seemed to me more interesting than most. Some are old, some not very, but each has its story.

[image ALT: A door in Usigni, Umbria (central Italy).]
[image ALT: A door in Usigni, Umbria (central Italy).]
[image ALT: A door in Usigni, Umbria (central Italy).]

[image ALT: A door in Usigni, Umbria (central Italy).]
[image ALT: A door in Usigni, Umbria (central Italy).]
[image ALT: A door in Usigni, Umbria (central Italy).]

Finally, an assortment of doors;
a click will "open" each larger.

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Page updated: 1 Jul 20