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SS. Ippolito e Cassiano:

An 11c Abbey Church Near Umbertide

[image ALT: By the side of a two‑lane road that heads off into the left background, a rectangular building of mixed stone masonry, about two-thirds as wide as it is long, with a symmetrically sloping roof from the center of which a low two-arched gabled belfry of the type called a 'campanile a vela' juts out. The end of the building toward us bulges out in a circular arc, with its own roof, above which a small circular window occupies the entire space left before the main roof. It is a view of the apse of the church of S. Cassiano near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

The apse of the church (alternate views: 1 2) as the visitor comes up on it from the south, on the road from Umbertide.

[image ALT: A very plain rectangular stone masonry building, one story tall with a gable forming a second story. It has a central door, entirely unadorned; far above it, almost at the apex of the roof, a small circular window. It is a view of the façade of the church of S. Cassiano near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

The façade of the church (alternate view).

[image ALT: A small rectangular wooden door, closed, in a wall of irregular masonry of various kinds of stone and brick, much of it badly spalled. It is the side door of the church of S. Cassiano near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

The side door. The modern tympanum, depicting the church itself with a monk preparing to go out and work in the fields, is inscribed Preca e lavora: an Italian translation of the monastic motto more commonly seen in Latin as Ora et labora (Pray and work). It is not stone, but molded ceramic — see this detail view — and I believe it to be by the same artist as a similar but less successful tympanum at the church of S. Pietro in Verna, about 5 km N along the same road.

The variety of stone in this photo, seen thruout the church, is notable. At the bottom, to our right, a few blocks may be of Roman origin. The crisp rectangular blocks of white limestone suggest repairs, maybe in the 13c or the 14c. The larger blocks of badly spalling beige stone are local sandstone, referred to in the region as pietra morta or "dead stone" because of its extremely poor resistance to wear, and may well date only to the 17c or so: see for example this 18c inscription in Città di Castello, about 13 km N of here.

[image ALT: What appears to be a brick-paved hallway with arched openings on either side is in fact a view of the interior of the church of S. Cassiano near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy): the 'hallway' is the center aisle of the nave.]

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The interior is for the most part whitewashed; I don't know to what extent this either represents restoration — or on the contrary would invite restoration to see whether any frescoes or stonework underlie the modern paint. In the present condition of the church, two frescoes may be seen.

[image ALT: A two‑lane road, with on the left a small rectangular building of mixed stone and brick masonry, with a symmetrically sloping roof, a rectangular door and a circular window above it; and on the right, a compound of much larger buildings, several stories tall, one of them with a square tower yet two more stories in height. It is a view of the church and former conventual buildings of S. Cassiano near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

In this view south as if coming from Città di Castello, the large group of buildings on the right are the church's former conventual compound. They are now a ceramics manufacture.

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Site updated: 13 Aug 05