Sanctuary of Maria Santissima Assunta in Rasina
The ruins of an imposing architectural structure in the hills of the Niccone valley
curated by Fabio Mariotti
The Sanctuary is located in the Municipality of Umbertide, on the hills north of the Niccone valley, in the immediate vicinity of the Rocca di Rasina, in the center of a plateau about 600 meters high and surrounded by thick wood.
Very little is known about this imposing church also because there is no historical documentation on its origins and the writings that are interested in it can be counted on the fingertips.
The information reported here is taken from the book "The Sanctuary of Maria Santissima Assunta in Rasina" by the Perugian architect Luca Sportellini published in 2011 which has as an interesting subtitle "Analysis and proposal for attribution to Francesco di Giorgio Martini". Lo Sportellini, in fact, on the basis of an accurate technical study and on the historical period in which the work is presumed to have been completed, puts forward the fascinating hypothesis that the project of the church was drawn up by the famous Renaissance architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini, among other things, for the project of the Ducal Palace of Urbino. It is clear that this is only a hypothesis and, to use the same words of the author of the text, "this hypothesis is still considered an open question that will have to be carefully evaluated by specific skills before being able to definitively establish if really there was an involvement of the great architect and if so, to what extent should a debt be recognized to his work ".
To enter into the merits of the structure, it is an organism with a central Greek cross plan, whose arms measure up to 24 m. and whose vault reaches a height of about 14 m. (a considerable size, considering that it was built in the open countryside, in a particularly isolated area).
In Sportellini's opinion, other elements, "including the presence of Doric architectural orders, the pre-existing chapel incorporated in the Lauretan manner, the crossed vault set on a basic pseudoctagon, make this building exceptional to the point of being able to a certain interest in the history of Italian architecture of the late 15th century ".
It is assumed that the construction of the sanctuary began between 1485 and 1491 and ended between 1501 and 1504. The construction of sanctuaries dedicated to the Madonna is in fact one of the main trends of Italian architecture at the end of the 15th and the beginning of the sixteenth century.
It is therefore very probable that the foundation of the Rasina church was due to a miracle that occurred through the intercession of the Madonna to whom the chapel on which the sanctuary was later built was dedicated. This would also explain the location of the structure in such an isolated and not easily accessible place.
From the few archival information found, it appears that the church in 1800 must have already been in a state of semi-abandonment and then finally went into disuse with the first collapses and structural injuries that occurred at the beginning of the 1900s, in particular on the occasion of the Umbrian-Aretino earthquake. in 1917, while the definitive collapse of the central vault, already seriously compromised, was determined by the 1997 earthquake.
The now secular state of neglect and its considerable size unfortunately suggest that its complete reconstruction is difficult if not impossible. At least an intervention that would prevent its definitive disappearance would be desirable.
- Superintendence for Historical, Artistic, Ethno-anthropological Heritage (1942)
- Peppe Cecchetti - Amedeo Massetti (2011)
"The Sanctuary of Maria Santissima Assunta in Rasina" - Luca Sportellini - EFFE Fabrizio Fabbri Editore Srl - 2011