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mail: Bill Thayer 
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S. Cecilia di Acquasparta:
The Exterior


[image ALT: The rather plain pedimented plastered façade of a small 2‑story stone church, with a 4‑story unplastered stone belfry attached with a clock on one side. It is a view of the church of S. Cecilia in Acquasparta, Umbria (central Italy).]
Though the church dates to the 13c, a Renaissance façade (left) was prefixed to it in the 16c, so that the visitor walking around the building gets a bit of a surprise, almost as if we were seeing two different churches, whose main point in common is their austerity.


[image ALT: The almost completely unornamented stone apse, about 2 stories tall and windowless, of a medieval church, surmounted by a third story with a small window, and with an attached section with another small window. It is a view of the apse of the church of S. Cecilia in Acquasparta, Umbria (central Italy).]
Looking at the apse of the church (right), we find it hemmed in on all sides: the upper town of Acquasparta sits on a narrow little ridge where land is at a premium. The defensive, fortresslike character of the 13c building is hardly surprising; what's curious is that the token gesture was made to decorate the exterior at all. The four pilasters we see (there may well be, or have been, two more buried in the mass of adjoining building in the background), which with careful attention to proportions could have been quite elegant, awkwardly are instead interrupted by capitals, themselves fairly crude — although personally I'd be delighted to have carved anything as good:


[image ALT: A primitive stone capital, square with stylized foliage. It is one of a set of decorative capitals on the apse of the church of S. Cecilia in Acquasparta, Umbria (central Italy).]
		
[image ALT: A primitive stone capital, square with stylized foliage. It is one of a set of decorative capitals on the apse of the church of S. Cecilia in Acquasparta, Umbria (central Italy).]
		
[image ALT: A primitive stone capital, square with stylized foliage. It is one of a set of decorative capitals on the apse of the church of S. Cecilia in Acquasparta, Umbria (central Italy).]
		
[image ALT: A primitive stone capital, square with stylized foliage. It is one of a set of decorative capitals on the apse of the church of S. Cecilia in Acquasparta, Umbria (central Italy).]

That decorative impulse is manifested one level lower as well: notice the tiny face in #1, and the animal in #2. (No need for a magnifying glass, those pictures open much larger.)


[image ALT: The side of a small plastered building to which have been applied four shallow pilasters with Ionic capitals, surmounted by a broken pediment. It is a view of the S side of the church of S. Cecilia in Acquasparta, Umbria (central Italy).]

The S flank of the church, housing the funerary chapel of prince Federico Cesi, is the only one with a bit of room to be seen well: the inscription records the chapel's builder, Isabella Liviani (1581).


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Page updated: 26 Jul 04