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Bill Thayer

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Ravaged Churches

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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and Thieves

 p77  A Historian of Trevi

[ from La Torre di Trevi, Year I No. 20, September 18, 1898 ]

From the first pages of this little book, my readers have seen recalled the name of Durastante Natalucci. I am therefore sure to be acting agreeably to them in giving some information on this deserving fellow-citizen of ours, who was so tenderly in love with Trevi and her history.

Durastante's parents were Giuseppe Natalucci and Maria Piccini. He was born September 17, 1687, a Wednesday, in the Piccini house at Picciche, a township of the Commune of Trevi, as his mother was returning from Montefalco, where she had gone on a devout pilgrimage to the tomb of the Blessed Clare.

The newborn received the names Durastante, Tommaso, Francesco, Emiliano.

When he was just seven years old, by the death of an uncle of his who was a priest, he received from Pope Innocent VIII the ecclesiastical  p78 benefice of the church of SS. Crocifisso, the living of which belonged to the Natalucci family. And it was on this occasion that Durastante was enrolled among the clergy, and received the first tonsure. He stayed in Trevi until 1704, when his folks sent him to Spoleto, to study with the Jesuit Fathers.

From Spoleto he went to Rome in 1709 for legal studies.

He did not content himself, however, with the arid speculations of the law, but following his own natural inclination, chose to study in depth history and related disciplines, being aided in that by Monsignor Cremona Valdieri and by Monsignor Ansaldi. Not long afterward, his mother having taken seriously ill, he had to return to Trevi. And from then on his entire activity and mind were completely absorbed by domestic cares and studies of the history of Trevi. By careful stewardship he increased the family's wealth considerably. The City benefited greatly from his work and in 1726 he was elected the City's attorney. He later also became city councilman, and in the following years he fulfilled further public duties no less important. He reorganized the City Archives and all the others that existed in Trevi, both public and private. By his enlightened, wise, and prudent approach,  p79 he helped many families recover from the low estate to which they had fallen. He reached the age of 60 without marrying. But in 1747 he decided to wed and he became engaged to a noblewoman, Elena di Francesco Ridolfi of Spoleto.

It happened, however, that not long after he promised marriage, Durastante became completely blind, due no doubt to the excessive strain he had suffered in reading and deciphering the numerous and very difficult ancient writings on which is based his History of Trevi.

He therefore wished to unbind himself, because of the misfortune that had befallen him, from the engagement he had taken toward his betrothed. She, however, did not wish to renounce her troth and was glad to become the faithful companion of the famous Man, who solemnly wed her on November 21, 1747.

From this union were born two children, Giuseppe and Maria, and another who died as soon as it was baptized.

Durastante, bereft of his sight, and thus also of the sweet occupation of study, lived another twenty-five years, dying in Trevi on May 22, 1772.

The indefatigable scholar left a precious remembrance of himself, however, to his family and to his native land. Having returned, as I have said, to Trevi because of his mother's illness, he gave himself straightway to  p80 research in the history of the city, a strenuous labor that continued for over twenty years: he completed his work in 1744.

The book is titled: Historia universale — dello Stato temporale ed ecclesiasticoa — di Trevi — anticamente città oggi terra non oscura dell' Umbria — di Durastante Natalucci — Divisa in quattro parti — Contenente la prima la descrizione di essa Trevi — del territorio suo la seconda — la terza il dominio e governo della medesima — e l' ultima la notizia delli habitatori, degli uomini e delle sue famiglie — Tomo unico — 1745. ("Universal History — of the Temporal and Ecclesiastical State — of Trevi — anciently a city and now a land of Umbria not obscure — by Durastante Natalucci — Divided in four parts — Containing the first, the description of Trevi — of its territory the second — the third the dominion and governance of the same — and the last, the record of her inhabitants, her men and of her families — In one volume — 1745.")

The large in‑8o volume, running to 1233 pages, is in a fine handwriting presenting no difficulties to the reader. It may leave something to be desired from the literary standpoint, but the shortcoming is forgivable.

Worthy of special praise is the meticulous critical method followed by Durastante in compiling this work; in which, every fact no matter how small is confirmed by documents. Sometimes maybe Natalucci was led into error as to the authenticity of some historical sources.

To collect these documents Durastante consulted 9 archives in Rome; the archives of Spoleto, Foligno and Todi; 38 archives in Trevi — 16 records offices, 12 of which were outside Trevi — many administrative offices of neighboring cities — the records of the Universities and of the Balìe — those of the chief families  p81 of Trevi — the deeds of 68 Notaries of Trevi and of as many from elsewhere — and finally 240 printed and 54 manuscript works.

After such a list, it is pointless for me to expand on the importance of Natalucci's work, which is precious also because he has kept for us the memory of many documents now destroyed, among them those of the Monasteries of Bovara, of S. Francesco and of the Madonna delle Lagrime, the archives of which were lost and almost completely destroyed when the French were in possession.

In addition to the History of Trevi Durastante compiled a documented history of his own family, and he was also the one who wrote the text of the relation of the visit of Monsignor Lascaris, Bishop of Spoleto, a work which has served as the basis of all the others of the same kind, and is even today still consulted with great interest by the Clergy of the Diocese of Spoleto as an authoritative source of historical and legal information.

Durastante Natalucci was thus one of the worthiest citizens that our Trevi has had. If in every City, in every Commune there were to arise someone to emulate him, the history of our beautiful Italy would be securely founded on the most solid bases.

In my turn, having used Durastante's work  p82 as a guide in collecting the historical information that I am publishing, I am bound to render public thanks to the most courteous Mr. Giuseppe Natalucci, a descendant of the famous Man, who with exquisite kindness has always desired to make available to me the precious manuscript.

Thayer's Note:

a The title of Natalucci's book, at least in the very careful edition published by Carlo Zenobi in 1985 — the first printing of the manuscript and to date the only one — has eclesiastico.

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Page updated: 28 Sep 16