top of page
L'Abbazia di San Salvatore di Monteacuto e poi Montecorona
Il Ciborio di Montecorona

Monuments, Museums and Sacred Places

The abbey of S. Salvatore of Monte Acuto, then Montecorona

montecorona watermark.jpg

The abbey of S. Salvatore di Monte Acuto, then Montecorona, 4 km from Umbertide, was a powerful monastic institution, not a de facto hermit, but well rooted in the territory and an economic and jurisdictional interlocutor of both civil and ecclesiastical power .  

Despite the traditional attributions of its foundation to San Romualdo, this foundation does not seem to be a historical truth; although in a short time its "management" was entrusted to the Benedictine current which was based on San Romualdo. The "management" was then assigned to the Cistercians in the 13th century; substantially returned to the Camaldolese in the sixteenth century. Since then, its history has been linked to that of the hermitage above.

In this article we will focus above all on the possible history relating to the origin of the Abbey in the eleventh century. and up to the sixteenth century. Above all we will dwell on its foundation which, despite the erudite "assignments" of the seventeenth century, is neither certain nor known.

In the continuation we will dwell on the description of the beautiful 8th century ciborium brought back to the Abbey by San Giuliano delle Pignatte, because this is considered to be its original place. Its existence opens up scenarios, still not investigated archaeologically, of the early medieval presence of one  pre-existing religious structure on the same site as the abbey.


We will conclude with an in-depth study on the reuse materials present in the crypt of the Abbey.


By whom was the Abbey of San Salvatore di Monteacuto really founded?


In a historical conference in 2009 on the Abbey, its history and its characteristics, ("THE ABBEY OF SAN SALVATORE DI MONTE ACUTO - MONTECORONA IN THE XI-XVIII CENTURIES"), the problem of the foundation was retraced, presenting the few traces available, and highlighting the fixed points traceable after the destruction of the Abbey archive in the war between the Oddi and the Baglioni in the mid-1400s.


The professor. D'Acunto, during the study days of June 2009 dedicated to the Abbey, argued the possibility that the original building was even older than the indications of  early millennium. Perhaps a pre-existing structure, a hypothesis to be investigated with archaeological methods, could have arisen from the role of local early medieval aristocratic elites. Hypothesis that could explain the presence in the area of the "Carolingian" ciborium of the eighth century of San Giuliano delle Pignatte.

Tradition, on the other hand, has reported 1008 as the date of the foundation and the person of Romualdo as the founder. Felice Ciatti in the "Of the annal and historical memories of the things of Perugia, Part Four, that is, Pontifical Perugia", of 1638, supported the foundation by San Romualdo. This foundation is not confirmed, however, by all the sources that refer directly to San Romualdo. Ludovico Iacobilli, on the other hand, in his Lives of the saints and blessed of Umbria, published between 1647 and 1661, was the first to affirm that the abbey of S. Salvatore was founded in 1008, ascribing it to the Cistercian Order ... probable date of existence but we do not know from which sources it took this indication. In the following centuries, however, it was the Camaldolese who managed the institution.


Certainly, even if we are not sure that the reference is to the current building, since it was consecrated only in 1056, we have news of the role of San Salvatore di Monte Acuto in the territory as early as 1036. In fact on this date the papacy granted the exemption in S. Salvatore di Monte Acuto from the jurisdiction of the diocesan ordinary, or rather from the power of the Dioceses that surrounded it (Perugia, Città di Castello and Gubbio). This is a sign of the institution's rising importance. This information is provided to us by Stefania Zucchini who dealt with the question in “Umbrian monastic foundations between the 10th and 12th centuries and S. Salvatore di Monte Acuto”.


Giovanna Casagrande in "The Abbey of S. Salvatore di Monte Acuto in the Cistercian period through the Protocol of the notary Achille of Bernardino di Montone (XIII century)", underlines, however, how under the Emperor Henry VI, in 1186, we to indirectly identify the indication of the importance already acquired by the monastery, that its probable pro-imperial position in the clash between the Empire and the Papacy. In fact, Henry VI recognizes the jurisdiction over the countryside to the municipality of Perugia, but excludes some lay lords from this jurisdiction… and our monastery of S. Salvatore. This would find further confirmation in the diplomas of Otto IV (1210) and of Frederick II (1220).  


As regards the uncomfortable pro-imperial position of the institution, Prof. Casagrande points out that Gregory IX found a "solution" after the peace of San Germano in 1230, in the stasis clash between the papacy and the Empire. In fact, an abbey of the imperial part in the Perugian territory,  but close to the border with Città di Castello, it could well be a nuisance.  "So 1234 actually marks a turning point ...  On June 26, 1234 Gregory IX wrote to the abbot and the convent of Cîteaux so that the monastery of S. Salvatore di Monte Acuto does not remain "in spiritualibus et temporalibus desolatum" and intends to "ibidem Cistercensem fundare sistema" and orders that "immediate subiaceat reverentia filiali »To the abbey of Cîteaux.". In this way the monastery passed to the Cistercians.


Subsequently, with Pope Eugene IV, in 1434, the management of the institution changed again and returned to the Camaldolese, but the "handover" was anything but immediate. This was a troubled period, think of the noble conflicts in Perugia which involved the destruction of the documents in the Abbey's archive when the Oddi, based in Umbertide, were attacked by the Baglioni. In fact, the forces of the Baglioni also poured into the Abbey causing the destruction of goods and documents, only some brought by the Oddi to safety in the Rocca di Spoleto.


Finally, the canon Galeazzo Gabrielli da Fano, commendatory of the abbey, donated it in 1524 with all its appurtenances to the company of San Romualdo, including a small church dedicated to San Savino, not far from the Abbey. The company, in the general chapter of 1525 and more explicitly in that of 1530, which was held right in the abbey of San Salvatore, approved the construction of a hermitage that was to serve as the mother house, following the design of the Hermitage of Camaldoli, and at the same time it was decided to erect it near the abbey on the mountain called "Montecorona". From this moment the word "coronesi" is also used to indicate the monks of the abbey of San Salvatore and the hermitage above. The hermitage and the Abbey were thus connected by a long path called "brick", even two meters wide, built with blocks of dry-laid sandstone that can still be traveled today. After the foundation of the Hermitage, it is remembered as the Hermitage of Monte Corona, a name later extended to the abbey as well, which became San Salvatore di Monte Corona.


The abbey, in addition to the appurtenances not for religious use, is structured in an upper church, with a large nave at the entrance and the raised presbytery above the crypt, divided into three naves with an apse. Basement insists a crypt which can itself be considered a lower church with 5 naves and 3 apses. A bell tower that probably in some periods, given some slits, had different purposes from the current one and different construction moments that see it pass from a circular to an octagonal base.


The crypt:  


The basement crypt is of the “ad oratorium” type, a vast and unique room with 5 naves although it ends with 3 apses, divided into 30 cross-vaulted bays with Byzantine-style decorations from Ravenna. The cross vaults are supported by columns of various styles, reused material from the first century. BC to the fourth century. AD, except one which is later. Along the walls of the area the arches of the cruises fall on semi-columns leaning against pilasters, creating an articulation of the walls accentuated by the presence of arched recesses, in turn pierced by double niches.

The bare material, of the columns e  it could come from a pre-existing pagan or early Christian temple. For this reason, there would be a need for archaeological investigations on the site of the present abbey. Externally to it are visible vertical pilasters.


The upper church and the presbytery


The part of the church that stands above the crypt was built first and consecrated by San Giovanni da Lodi, bishop of Gubbio; the central nave was added to it in the 13th and 14th centuries; so the oldest part served as a presbytery with 3 naves marked by 4 round arches. Each nave ends with an apse. An arch divides the oldest part from the most recent one.


At the center of the great nave of the present Presbytery, there was an altar, whose table is now leaning against the wall of the left aisle. In 1959, in the execution of the renovation and restoration works, an 8th century Ciborium was placed in place of the great altar, present in the nearby Church of San Giuliano delle Pignatte. Later we will describe the Ciborium and the techniques of descriptions that were investigated in the 2009 conference on the Abbey.  A 16th century wooden choir is located in the apse which has an ogival arch. Here we have paintings by unknown authors, right above the wooden choir: the TRANSFIGURATION - CHRIST IN GLORY AMONG THE PROPHETS AND APOSTLES, sec. XVII, an oil on canvas measuring 340 x 190 cm; the MADONNA DELLE GRAZIE, from 1549, oil on canvas, 174 x 167 cm; the ASCENSION, from 1602, oil on canvas, 168 x 104 cm; the FLAGELLATION, sec. XVI, oil on canvas cm. 102 x 75 (which does not appear in the video images because it is covered by the Ciborium); S. Andrea XVIII century, tempera canvas measuring 160 x 76 cm; the MADONNA DEL ROSARIO AND SAN DOMENICO, sec. XVII, oil on canvas, 236 x 100 cm.


The most recent part of the upper church has a single large nave with two ribbed vaults and two chapels on the sides adorned with Baroque altars.


The bell tower


The bell tower which probably had different uses over the centuries has a particular structure diversified in three moments: the base is circular in shape, perhaps from the Lombard period, then it has 11 sides in the 14th century, endecagonal with battlements that were integrated, finally, in the octagonal continuation which now shows the large clock and bells.







  • Proceedings of the Conference (Abbey of San Salvatore di Montecorona, June 18-19, 2009)

  edited by Nicolangelo D'Acunto and Mirko Santanicchia in Bulletin of the National History Deputation for Umbria, CVIII (2011), fasc. I-II (pp. 165- 183). Monographic section: "THE ABBEY OF SAN SALVATORE DI MONTE ACUTO - MONTECORONA IN THE XI-XVIII CENTURIES" - History and art -

  - Nicolangelo D'Acunto: "The origins of the monastery of S. Salvatore di Monte Acuto and its monastic network"

  • Maria Teresa Gigliozzi: "From the Benedictines to the Cistercians: the architecture of the abbey of San Salvatore in Montecorona in Romanesque Umbria"

  • Giovanna Casagrande: "The abbey of S. Salvatore di Monte Acuto in the Cistercian period through the Protocol of the notary Achille of Bernardino di Montone (13th century)"

- Stefania Zucchini: "Umbrian monastic foundations between the 10th and 12th centuries and S. Salvatore di Monte Acuto"


-The indications on the paintings in the apse of the upper church come from the “Alto Tiber” Archaeological Group with the patronage of the Municipality of Umbertide: “Initiative“ adopt a work of art from your territory ”with the contribution of local companies.


For the images of the 2009 Conference see: 

montecorona sotto.jpg

Abbey of San Salvatore - interior of the crypt

P1020196_1_1archivio deplanu.jpg

The Abbey of Montecorona during the flood of the Tiber in 2005. By clicking here you can to download the photo in original resolution. For a study of the extent of the flood in Umbria you can see the IRPI report here   ( Tiber River Basin Authority).


The Monastery, the Montecorona Hermitage seen from Montacuto at the "Croce".

THE CIBORIO OF THE ABBEY OF MONTECORONA formerly of San Giuliano delle Pignatte

(By Francesco Deplanu, from the 2009 study days dedicated to the Abbey and indicated at the bottom)  


This artifact is one of the very few early medieval cibori that have come down to us intact. Its canopy has a square plan, and is made up of four slabs of equal size, two and two, placed on four supports with a monobloc capital and a crowning with an octagonal pyramid ending with a pinnacle.  


Where does the Ciborium come from


The Ciborium was moved (or moved again) in the 1950s from "San Giuliano delle Pignatte" inside the Presbytery of the upper church of the Abbey of S.  Salvatore of Montecorona. This choice is based on the certain inadequacy of the position of the Ciborium in the small church of San Giuliano delle pignatte, a photo from the 1950s shows it positioned with one side against the wall in a clear position that does not respect its function. The prevailing hypothesis is that it is a "dismantling", perhaps precisely from the place where the Abbey stands today. it underwent a period of near abandonment. It is probable at this point that the artefact was moved in that period, also taking into account the decorations on the wall of the small church.


Let's start with a "conclusion" before describing in detail this treasure of the Abbey of S. Salvatore, that of Donatella Scortecci in "THE CIBORIO DELL'ABBAZIA DI MONTECORONA" in the study days of 2009: "the stimulating reflections proposed by Nicolangelo D 'Acunto on a possible lay foundation of the monastery by noble elites would well explain the presence of a luxury artifact, such as the ciborium, a liturgical object for display, to be flaunted. Perhaps a donation from the founder, a treasure exhibited as was widespread practice in the early Middle Ages by the hegemonic classes who, through what have been defined earthly and heavenly treasures, represented themselves, reaffirming their status to the religious and secular community, earning, if anything, also a place in paradise ".


The Ciborium is an artifact of the "Carolingian" period, built in the eighth century. d. C .. With this identification, Prof. Scortecci recalls how it is not possible for the sculptural creations of the period to catalog them as "Lombard" or "Byzantine", or "barbaric", because there is "evidence of a variety of languages that contribute to the definition of a unitary context ". Furthermore, it must also be considered that the difference between the client and the workers who then create the artifacts must be considered, with their more complex ethnic, social and economic origin. We can therefore, in summary, indicate the sculpture as "early medieval".


It is clearly a liturgical furniture that we can define as "luxury", and which is the testimony of a religious commission of high prestige, probably also economic.


By indicating the front plate that looks at the faithful as plate "A", it can be seen that it is of a different material than the rest of the artifact.


Also with regard to the Ciborium of San Prospero in Perugia, always “early medieval”, the tendency to standardize production is clear, reserving only the front plate, the more complex and full of symbolism decoration. In fact, the two side faces "B" and  "D" and the back, indicated with "C", are also similar in the decorative motifs, with the body of the slabs having the same three-ply braid with buttons that accompanies the archivolt, and the same palm with long fringed leaves that fields the resulting spaces. However, only the frames of the upper margin have three variants of the usual spiral motif.


In the front plate you can see a “cantharos” where two large peacocks cool off. The peacock, an immortal bird, which drinks from the cantharos is an iconography that goes from antiquity to the whole of the early Middle Ages. However, its extensive use does not make it possible to trace back to specific customers or workers. Harmonic forms are certainly not found here  in the arrangement of the drawing of that of the aforementioned Perugian Ciborium; the birds in our ciborium are more cumbersome and a kind of "horrori vacui" with S-shaped "volutine", small circles with quatrefoil flowers and a short intertwining of mesh, this above the "braid" that runs through the arch, seems to prevail.


How the Ciborium was built  


The structure of the Ciborium rests on four columns that form a quadrilateral with monolithic capitals in sandstone. Columns and capitals that support four variously sculpted stone slabs. 

Indicating the front plate that looks at the faithful as plate "A", it can be seen that it is of a different material, pietra serena, of a blue-blue color, like the columns, compared to the side ones, all instead of different materials, always sedimentary, or compact micritic limestones, which we can indicate as tending to a white color.

Above the front slabs rises a pyramid made up of 11 slabs: eight major stone slabs, triangular in shape, as well as three smaller ones used to close the gaps left by the placement of the first eight. This can only be seen from the inside due to the “dull”, grayish plaster applied  in previous restoration interventions. On the top there is a pinnacle that may look like a bell even if, again due to the "dull" present, it is difficult to see well.

These indications come to us from Laura Zamperoni  in "Stone materials, executive technique and state of conservation" presented again during the days of 2009 indicated in the notes. This distinction is important because in addition to the different color that can be immediately identified, the different stone nature has led to a different destiny of conservation: the pietra serena of the front facade has been damaged more than the "white" parts of the three "secondary" facades "(" B "," C "and" D ") in limestone. In particular, plate "A" has a fairly thin grain size and free from large colored impurities; the other three, on the other hand, are characterized by extremely small and homogeneous alveoli. What is worrying, as mentioned before, is the durability of the sandstone of the columns and related capitals. Sandstone (and pietra serena) which is exposed to an important erosion phenomenon that "pulverizes" it. Erosion also present in the front plate visible to the faithful but fortunately to a lesser extent than the capitals. Erosion that does not affect the "white" parts in limestone.

These considerations lead Zamperoni (... and all of us) to say that "given the exceptionality of the artefact, a conservative restoration intervention would be desirable both to improve the state of alteration and to block its deterioration, and to enhance its historical-artistic importance. … ".


Furthermore Zamperoni writes, after having studied the artefact in detail that “interesting considerations can be drawn  on the working technique of stonemasons. The tools and the work of the artisans are characterized by a strong conservatism that has contributed to maintaining almost unchanged, until the 19th century, working methods and tools, with a certain reluctance to introduce innovative elements. As is well known, the tools for working stone essentially belong to two large classes: percussive and abrasive. In the first group are inserted the various hammers and cutting tools (chisels and the like), in the second the saws, drills, files and all the powders used for polishing. The percussive instruments shape the stone by striking and crushing it, the abrasive ones by rubbing it. Most of the early medieval and medieval stone sculptures were made with the direct cutting process, without making use of models in ductile material: the design was traced directly on the planes of the block (front and side) to then be engraved. ". This allows her to argue that flat and sharp edge chisels were used for the construction. Specifically, a chisel called "little nail" seems to have been used: thin but sturdy which allowed to reach fine but deep carvings; but also a "group of flat and sharp edge chisels (from 3 mm up to 8 mm) capable of smoothing the surface producing shading effects that essentially depend on the angle at which the instrument was held on the stone and on the intensity with he was hit. "In addition, the flat chisel was also used for the low-relief creations; finally he identifies a series of" bush hammering "in the intrados of the arches but also  on the shafts of the columns and the capitals in the non-decorated parts, the latter probably not contemporary. 


Front plate of the Ciborium of the eighth century AD

I ruderi della chiesa della Madonna della Costa

Stone carving in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Having placed the attention on the methods of construction of the Ciborium, the use of the tools used, has highlighted the strong conservatism of the masons' workers over the centuries. This allows us to indicate a hypothesis of "continuity", clearly only spatial to the state of knowledge, on the methods of sculpting stone in the areas under the influence of the Abbey of San Salvatore and the Hermitage of Montecorona. That is to remember, without clearly claiming to establish a real connection, how even the workers of the 19th-20th centuries of Niccone's stonemasons used tools that were partly similar: think of the “bocciarda” who had become the “liar” in our dialect. We also add, more to meet some curiosity, news of much later on the stones that could still be found in the nineteenth century in the area of the discovery of the Ciborium and the Abbey of San Salvatore. In the text of  Bernardino Sperandio, "Of the Umbrian construction and ornamental stones" a document is reported among the "Inventories"  entitled "State of Mines, Mineral Sources, Quarries, Workshops existing in the Municipality of Fratta, province of Perugia, district of Perugia", ASCU year 1861. This inventory indicates the "Quarries and Torbiere" of Fratta (cited in the text "Umbertide" also if in fact his name hadn't been changed yet). The document reports various types of stones, among these the "Strong sandstone or stone are used for use [...]" (the "pietraforte" in Tuscany is a very solid sandstone) and their presence is indicated as well as in the Parish di Romeggio, also a site in the “parish of M. Migiano owned by the suppressed Eremo di Montecorona”. As far as quarries and peat bogs are concerned, the "substances" indicated in 1861 were "white marble", "dark red or white marble", "cenerino marble", "red veined white marble", "white veined marble", "black marble" , "Sand quarry", "Clay quarry", "Pozzolana quarry", "Quarry for Macine" as well as "Strong sandstone stones".  The "quarry for millstones" was located at the Parish of San Giuliano, or in the area of San Giuliano delle Pignatte. Precisely the Montecorona area, along the Nese stream, was characterized by the presence of "calcarenites", or "marbles".  




-Donatella Scortecci, “The ciborium of the Montecorona abbey”, with a contribution by Laura Zamperoni, “The ciborium and early medieval sculptural material. In "THE ABBEY OF SAN SALVATORE DI MONTE ACUTO - MONTECORONA IN THE XI-XVIII CENTURIES" -

Bulletin of the National History Deputation for Umbria, CVIII (2011), fasc. I-II (pp. 165- 183).

Proceedings of the Conference (Abbey of San Salvatore di Montecorona, June 18-19, 2009)

  curated by Nicolangelo D'Acunto and Mirko Santanicchia


- Bernardino Sperandio, Of the Umbrian construction and ornamental stones., Perugia, Quattroemme, 2004 (p. 265, pp 288-289).






-Image of the Ciborium located in San Giuliano delle Pignatte by Mons. Renzo Piccioni Tignai published in the “Bulletin of the National History Deputation for Umbria, CVIII (2011), fasc. I-II (pp. 165- 183). "


- Other images and videos: Francesco Deplanu.

The Church of the Madonna della Costa and the wooden statue

(Curated by Francesco Deplanu)  


The Church of the Madonna della Costa of Monte Acuto


This little one  church on the slopes of Monte Acuto, known among other names over time as “S. Giovanni della Costa ”,“ Santa Maria della Costa ”and later known as“ Madonna della Costa ”, is located on the southwest coast of Monte Acuto. This church today is dilapidated but until 70 years ago it was a popular place of worship that is still lived and deeply felt. Anciently  it was employed by the Abbey of San Salvatore di Montecorona, then passed under that of the Perugia dioceses. The church has a rectangular plan, with an entrance door under the bell tower and, opposite to it, a small door to the right of the altar connected to a small sacristy is still visible. The building shows its different construction phases with a lower part in well-worked stone masonry ceasing on a floor highlighted by a frame above the entrance door. Above this frame, on the main gabled façade, the bell gable was built. On the entrance a small niche above the architrave bore a dedicatory inscription which is now illegible. The left facade of the church  is  partially embedded towards Monteacuto. The opposite facade, on the right,  it bears the trace of a loophole and “looks” at a panorama that opens up between valleys and high hills. The added walls are in unworked stone and everything had been plastered both inside and outside. The roofs appear to have been trussed and  on the back wall a niche is still visible where the statue of the Madonna with the child was housed. Several photos from the recent past show signs that look like those of frescoes in the part near the altar area.

foto mariotti madonna della costa.jpg

Immagine 1: Chiesa della Madonna della Costa. Campanile a vela visibile tra la boscaglia; facciata principale (foto di Fabio Mariotti,  scattata circa  nel 2000).

La Storia

Una struttura per il culto è presente fin dal 1145:  è documentata la sua presenza nella Bolla di Eugenio III del 1145 vche ede tra i beni confermati all’Abbazia di San Salvatore la “Cellam Sancti Joannis in Monte Acuto, cum Ecclesiis, & pertinenti suiis”. Nel primo elenco delle comunità perugine del 1258  è indicata come “Villa S. Iohannis de Costa”. Dal 1361 la parrocchia “eccelse S. Iohannis de Costa Montis Acuti” possiede un catasto di beni propri e nel 1367 si ha notizia della dotazione di una campana. Nel 1564, sotto il Vescovo Della Corgna, alla parrocchia di San Giovanni, denomina in questo periodo sembra anche Santa Maria, fu unita la chiesa diroccata di Santa Lucia, che sorgeva presso il castello della Fratticiola di Montacuto. Altre notizie più recenti ci attestano della diminuita importanza del luogo, perlomeno dal punto di vista dell’organizzazione parrocchiale, tanto che nel 1821 la parrocchia di San Giovanni/Santa Maria fu unita provvisoriamente alle parrocchie di San Simone in Monestevole, San Bartolomeo in San Bartolomeo dei Fossi e San Michele Arcangelo in Racchiusole. La chiesa, in tempi più recenti, venne chiamata della “Madonna della Costa” di Monte Acuto, per via della statua lignea medievale della Madonna con il bambino che lì si trovava.


L’insediamento in età alto medievale attorno a questa zona vide una quasi costante presenza di una quarantina di “fuochi” (come media gli storici riferiscono che un fuoco era composto da 4 persone. n.d.r.): nel 278 sono riportati 42 “fuochi”, nel 1882 sono 32, nel 1410  supponiamo circa 38 (perché si contarono 152 “bocche”, cioè persone); ma già tra il 1438 ed il 1501 si contavano un numero minore di popolazione dimorante, tra i 20 e i 29 fuochi. Sicuramente l’insediamento sparso dei secoli a venire mantenne parte della popolazione nelle zone nelle vicinanze della chiesa, vista la necessitata di un popolamento connesso al sistema produttivo. Quasi in concomitanza con la fine della mezzadria, che possiamo datare ad inizio anni’60, nel 1954, crollò il tetto della chiesetta che fu dichiarata inagibile.  Fino a quel momento, la domenica dopo l’Ascensione, veniva festeggiata in loco la festa della “Madonna della Costa”, che vedeva anche la presenza della Banda di Preggio; notizia attestata almeno fino al 1947 a causa di uno scontro politico che in quell’anno ebbe un certo risalto. 

La statua della Madonna con il bambino

Che sappiamo al momento della storia della “madonna con il bambino” nella chiesetta della Costa di Monte Acuto ? E’ una statua lignea di un autore ignoto del romanico umbro del secolo XII (datata  1150 - 1199), alta cm 132 e dipinta in maniera policroma. E’ difficile pensare che nel corso di 8 secoli dalla sua realizzazione datata già dalla seconda metà del 1100, cambiando la tipologia di popolamento e di conseguenza il valore e la funzione dei luoghi di culto, la locazione della statua sia stata la stessa. Anche le indicazioni delle fonti storiche indicano un “peregrinare” della statua, “peregrinare” influenzato anche dalla dottrina della Chiesa dopo il Concilio di Trento. A questo proposito si può affermare che la statua lignea della madonna con bambino non fosse posizionata fin dalla sua realizzazione  nell’attuale chiesa, ridotta quasi in cumuli, o nelle strutture originarie dedicate al culto in quel luogo. Seguendo le indicazioni di Elvio Lunghi, professore di Storia dell’arte medievale a Perugia, lo spostamento sulla “costa” di Monte Acuto della scultura lignea dovrebbe essere avvenuto successivamente alla seconda metà del XVI sec.: da San Giuliano delle Pignatte dell’Abbazia di Montecorona dove venne descritta come una “madonnam rilievi” nelle fonti delle visite pastorali del Vescovo Fulvio Della Corgna . Infatti nei decenni seguenti la conclusione del concilio tridentino i vescovi furono particolarmente rigidi verso le immagini obsolete o semplicemente mal conservate oltre che all’uso di statue lignee utilizzate in maniera lontana dalla liturgia, in questo periodo è anche possibile che le immagini sacre meno adeguate fossero destinate a una sede meno prestigiosa. Questo potrebbe essere stato il destino della nostra statua ritenuta comunque di “valore” e, piuttosto che eliminata, venne spostata in un luogo meno importante. Spostamento funzionale a salvarne il valore popolare di devozione; devozione molto sentita nella zona tra Romeggio e Preggio e proseguita fino al dopoguerra. 

madonna costa beweb chiesa cattolica.png
madonna costa lunghi.png

Immagine 8: Statua della Madonna della Costa da:,+Statua+della+Madonna+della+Costa

Immagine 9: Statua della Madonna della Costa pubblicata in: Elvio Lunghi, “Considerazioni e ipotesi sulle sculture lignee nelle chiese dell’Umbria tra XII e XIII secolo” in “Umbria e Marche in età romanica. Arti e tecniche a confronto tra XI e XIII secolo”, a cura di E. Neri Lusanna, Todi, Ediart, 2013, pp. 203-212

Il destino delle opere lignee delle nostre zone sotto il potere temporale della Chiesa, risentì notevolmente del Concilio post-tridentino. Basti pensare al bellissimo gruppo della “Deposizione” di Montone, originario della Pieve di San Gregorio, che fu trasformato per secoli in “Crocifissione” con braccia e piedi non coevi e con la sparizione certa, perché poi ritrovata, della statua di Giuseppe d’Arimatea. Questa statua fu “ricomposta” con la testa ritrovata sempre nella Pieve di San Gregorio nel 1956, mentre il resto del corpo venne ritrovato sempre qui, nel 1977, tra le macerie di una volta crollata, e poi individuato come parte del San Giuseppe dal prof. Toscano nella Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. Solo da allora si prese consapevolezza dell’originaria disposizione e funzione che si può godere oggi nel Museo di San Francesco a Montone. 

Schermata 2022-04-30 alle 18.01.45.png

Immagine 9: Deposizione della Croce di Montone (particolare) (foto di Francesco Deplanu).


Immagine 10: Deposizione della Croce di Montone (particolare). Statua lignea di San Giovanni d’Arimatea ricomposta (foto di Francesco Deplanu).

Per capire la portata del cambiamento che avvenne nel periodo post-tridentino basta leggere, riportate nelle pagine di Lunghi riprese dall’Archivio Vescovile di Perugia che riporta le visite pastorali sempre sotto il Vescovo Fulvio Della Corgna. Ad esempio nella chiesa di San Giustino alle porte di Perugia una statua della Madonna fu direttamente data alle fiamme: “Visitavit figuras virginis in quadam nicchio cum filio in brachio vetustate consumptas / quas igni comburi iussit». Ovvero:  “In una  nicchia ispezionò una statua della Vergine col figlio in braccio consumata dal tempo che ordinò fosse bruciata dal fuoco.”.

Ma vediamo cosa scrive  a proposito della statua lignea della madonna Elvio Lunghi,  in “CONSIDERAZIONI E IPOTESI SULLE SCULTURE LIGNEE NELLE CHIESE DELL'UMBRIA TRA XII E XIII SECOLO”: “Nel Museo del Duomo di Perugia è conservata una scultura romanica in legno policromo di una Madonna in trono con il Bambino benedicente in grembo, che vi è stata depositata per esigenze conservative dall’abbazia di San Salvatore di Montecorona. È agevole riconoscervi una statua della Madonna che il vicario del vescovo Fulvio Della Corgna vide il 24 novembre 1564 sopra l’altare maggiore della chiesa di San Clemente nel villaggio di San Giuliano delle Pignatte, nelle immediate vicinanze di quell’abbazia cistercense. La Madonna era in rilievo e era posta tra due tavole dipinte con le storie del Santissimo.”


Riportiamo per intero, vista la brevità, il passo che nelle note il Lunghi ripropone della visita pastorale, testo sempre conservato nell’Archivio Diocesiano di Perugia: “«Visitavit madonnam rilievi cum tabulis pictis Santissime inde / quas reaptari si potest santissimi aut retineri quanto decentius». Ovvero “Ispezionò una madonna in rilievo con tavole dipinte della storia del Santissimo, poi le quali se è possibile siano restaurate o conservate nel modo più decente”.


Il passo è brevissimo ma accerta la presenza certa di una statua della madonna nella zona, difficile pensare che non fosse quella poi finita sulla Costa di Monte Acuto. Gli sportelli laterali sono andati perduti ma la madonna in legno con il bambino ha “proseguito” il suo cammino. In una data imprecisata, ma successiva chiaramente a questa visita pastorale del Della Corgna, arrivò alla chiesa di San Giovanni della Costa .”. Lo scopo di queste visite pastorali post tridentine era anche di “correggere la dottrina cattolica, espellere le eresie, promuovere i buoni costumi, e per quanto riguarda l’aspetto degli edifici religiosi era accertare l'idoneità degli edifici di culto e la celebrazione degli uffici liturgici secondo le nuove regole stabilite a Trento.


  • Elvio Lunghi, “Considerazioni e ipotesi sulle sculture lignee nelle chiese dell’Umbria tra XII e XIII secolo”, in Umbria e Marche in età romanica. Arti e tecniche a confronto tra XI e XIII secolo”, a cura di E. Neri Lusanna, Todi, Ediart, 2013, pp. 203-212.

  • Luca Mor : “Esposte a Montone le sculture lignee medievali della deposito Christi, Bollettino d’arte” del Ministero per i beni  e le Attività Culturali”, n. 108 - Aprile Giugno 1999. Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, Libreria dello Stato


  • Giovanna Sapori, “Il Gruppo Ligneo di Montone”, in Museo Comunale di San Francesco a Montone - Regione dell’Umbria - Electa Editori Umbri Associati, Perugia 1997.











Under construction...

The "Croce" of Montacuto and the Apennine chain behind it. Photos before the restoration.

PIAZZA GUARDABASSI - 1918Storiche archiv

The Collegiate Church in 1918

PIAZZA XII SETTEMBRE - 1910 Storiche arch

Piazza XII Settembre in 1912

Piazza San Francesco and the Deposition by Signorelli


- Photo by Francesco Deplanu, Giulio Foiani and Anna Boldrini.

- Photo: historical photos of Umbertide from the web and from various private archives  to which  we applied the " umbertidestoria " watermark  in this way we try to avoid that further disclosure on our part favors purposes that are not consonant with our intentions exclusively  social and cultural.

Help us remember

bottom of page