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Bill Thayer

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The City Tower

This webpage reproduces part of

Curiosità storiche trevane

Tommaso Valenti

Published by F. Campitelli,
Foligno, 1922

The Italian text is in the public domain;
this translation is © William P. Thayer 2016.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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City Hall

 p5  The Piazza

[ from La Torre di Trevi, Year I No. 2, January 16, 1898 ]

". . . . which is of a not mediocre size and in a commodious flat site, not far from the Porta del Lago, embellished on every side by good houses and beautiful also because it has remained partly covered by the arcades that let it be used even when it rains."

Thus Natalucci describes it.​a

The surface of the Piazza, now in poor condition, was paved long ago with bricks laid perpendicularly and in a herringbone pattern, divided into squares by stone stripes. Of this work, executed in 1476, there still remain traces toward the northwest corner.

Our Archive contains interesting and curious reminiscences of a very old popular entertainment held in this Piazza until not very many years ago: the Maypole, called the Maggio or Cuccagna.

 p6  In 1458, however, the custom of planting the Madio, as it was then called, was discontinued for a time; and in the place where the maypole used to be, in the center of the Piazza, it was decided to make a "triangle", or a sort of street shrine, with the likeness of St. Emiliano between two lions and the devices of the City and of the Church. And indeed, on May 28, 1458, the Town Council commissioned Massimo Citrini (Petrini?) of Venice to execute this carving. The triangle remained in this place, in the center of the Piazza, until 1462, when it was removed and placed over the main door of Sant' Emiliano, where it may still be seen today. If you take the trouble to go look at it, you will find that it does in fact correspond faithfully to the description of the work that we find in the old documents.

But an altar — protected by a roof, it is certain — remained in the center of the Piazza; on it new priests celebrated their first Mass, and the City gave the celebrant a coppa of grain and a pig, as we read in a Council decision of 1489.

How and when the altar came to be demolished, I have not succeeded in learning.

Another signal ornament of our Piazza was a beautiful and elegant fountain, which, from the reminiscences that I have been able to find,  p7 was situated at the southwestern end of the Piazza, beneath the Mattei house, now called the Pattofatto house.

Durastante Natalucci in his work says​b that the fountain on the Piazza was "roundly symmetrical, entirely of carved stone, divided into many compartments set apart by small columns." I believe that by "roundly symmetrical" a regular polygon must be meant, just like the "Chiesa Tonda" near Trevi (literally: the "Round Church"), which is in fact octagonal.

The fountain probably had ten sides, since we find it written that "every now and then", between the colonettes there were carved five coats of arms: those of the Varano family dukes of Camerino, of the Monaldeschi lords of Orvieto, of the Trinci of Foligno, of the City and of the Church.

The fountain properly speaking comprised a basin "adorned with eight faces" (masks?) and supported by a column. The basin collected the water "carried thru the air" and the column, pierced by a central hole, carried it in turn to a second basin beneath the fountain, "so as to provide a convenient watering trough for livestock". A comfortable bench surrounded this lower basin; we often find this bench mentioned in the deeds of 15c and 16c notaries, who would sometimes proclaim these deeds from it.

 p8  Of this monument of Trevi there remains no trace on the Piazza, but the basin and the column that now form part of the fountain in the Piazza del Mercato (Piazza Garibaldi), are certainly the very same ones which were once part of the old fountain in the Piazza: its basin has a hole in the center, which must have served as the spout; and the column beneath it, with its four lions' heads, was the one that carried the water to the cattle trough.

The fountain was removed from the Piazza, now called the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, to the Piazza del Mercato, in the first half of the 18c. Then in our own times it was moved again to where it now is.

There are no documents that would allow us to determine precisely in what period this fountain was built. The presence on it, however, of the coat of arms of the Varano family suggests that it may have been built in the first half of the 14c or shortly afterwards, in the time of Rodolfo I Varano, who was killed by his grandson Rodolfo II in July 1350, and who as lord of Camerino held sway over other cities as well.

Thayer's Notes:

a Durastante Natalucci, Historia universale . . ., pp45‑46 of the manuscript (in Carlo Zenobi's printed edition, p46).

b Ib., p61 (p56):

In the main piazza the fountain is roundly symmetrical, entirely of carved stone, divided into many compartments set apart by small columns, that every now and then bear arms believed to be those of the dukes of Varano, of the Monaldeschi, and of the community: *** (Petronius: Pretensioni della Coll. cap. 15 in fine f.35), in the center of which the water is fed by a basin supported by the column and adorned with 8 faces, which after having received the water carried thru the air, delivers it by the mouths of the same to fall into another single basin so as to provide a convenient watering trough p62for livestock . . .

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Page updated: 28 Sep 16