hall of fortunes

The Hall of Fortunes enriches Torre Alfina Castle

Restaurata e aperta da circa un mese la nuova Sala delle Sorti arricchisce la visita al Castello di Torre Alfina, destando grande interesse e curiosità tra i visitatori. Si tratta di una sala decorata con affreschi allegorici che risalgono probabilmente agli anni ’60 del XVI secolo e che trasportano gli osservatori in un mondo di mistero e divinazione.
Table of contents:
  1. The House of Monaldeschi
  2. Allegorical frescoes
  3. Vizi contro Virtù
  4. A historical-artistic testimony

The Prestige of the House

The decoration of the Hall of Fortunes was commissioned by Monaldo Monaldeschi della Cervara, canonico di San Pietro e illustre membro della famiglia Monaldeschi che per secoli governò il castello e il borgo di Torre Alfina. La mano dietro l’esecuzione di queste opere rimane avvolta nel mistero, anche se si ipotizza un’eventuale influenza del pittore veneto Bartolomeo Cinzio, che Monaldo Monaldeschi conosceva bene grazie al suo soggiorno padovano. L’intento della decorazione era rappresentare artisticamente il prestigio e la correttezza morale del casato dei Monaldeschi.

The Allegories of the Hall of Fortunes

Gli affreschi della Sala delle Sorti sono ispirati al libro Il Giardino dei Pensieri di Francesco Marcolini da Forlì, pubblicato nel 1540. Si tratta di un testo di cartomanzia e arte divinatoria per predire la fortuna, nel quale vengono rappresentati i vizi e le virtù umane. Nella sala del castello si alternano raffigurazioni dei Vizi, quali Insidia, Menzogna e Discordia, a quelle delle Virtù, come Fede, Carità e Temperanza. Questa contrapposizione riflette l’eterna lotta tra il bene e il male, la prevedibilità e l’imprevedibilità del destino. Ma se le Virtù sono ritratte in ambienti interni, a simboleggiare la loro presenza costante e il ruolo fondamentale nel mantenimento della morale e del buon governo, i Vizi sono raffigurati immersi in ambienti esterni. L’effetto visivo finale è la sensazione che nella sala si aprano delle finestre immaginarie che permettono di osservare il male che vive al di fuori delle mura del castello.

Vizi e Virtù

Il fregio si sviluppa lungo le pareti della sala e presenta uno schema ripetitivo: ad ogni raffigurazione allegorica dei vizi segue un telamone (una figura maschile che sostiene l’architettura del fregio) e poi una virtù. Così all’Insidia, una donna che pesca in un fiume affiancata da una lince, segue la Carità; alla Discordia, una donna che tiene in mano un mantice da cui esce del fumo. segue la Temperanza. Ogni rappresentazione è ricca di dettagli simbolici che offrono un panorama completo delle forze che plasmano il destino umano e invitano gli osservatori a riflettere sulle scelte e sulle azioni che definiscono il proprio cammino.

Historical Testimony

Il restauro e l’apertura della Sala delle Sorti nel Castello di Torre Alfina rappresentano un’aggiunta straordinaria al patrimonio storico e artistico della regione. Questo nuovo spazio incanta e ispira i visitatori, offrendo loro l’opportunità di immergersi in un mondo di simbolismo e mistero. Gli affreschi allegorici delle Sorti e le Virtù rappresentano una importante testimonianza storico-artistica del nostro territorio e dei personaggi che qui hanno vissuto. la sala invita alla riflessione sulle forze che influenzano il destino umano e sull’importanza delle scelte morali. La ricchezza dei dettagli e il significato profondo di queste opere testimoniano l’abilità e la visione dei suoi creatori, lasciando un’impronta indelebile sulla memoria di coloro che hanno il privilegio di visitarla.

Etruscan pyramid

The Etruscan Pyramid in the Heart of the Sacred Wood of Bomarzo

The small town of Bomarzo in the province of Viterbo is famous for its Parco dei Mostri, a magical and enigmatic place that attracts visitors from every corner of the world. But among the foliage of the thick vegetation that surrounds the park hides an even more mysterious and fascinating secret: the Etruscan Pyramid of Bomarzo, also known as the 'Preacher's Stone'.
Table of contents:
  1. The glorious Etruscan civilisation
  2. Discovery in 1911
  3. Hero Salvatore Fosci
  4. A walk in nature

Clear traces of the Etruscan civilisation

Nestled in the woods of Tuscia, in the Tacchiolo area, the Etruscan Pyramid can be reached from the Park of the Monsters of Bomarzo. It is located in a context rich in artefacts from the Etruscan and prehistoric eraenveloped by what is called the Sacred Forest. Walking along paths that wind between cave dwellings, megalithic rocks, altars and places of worshipone is confronted with an authentic oasis of history and mystery. Even a ancient early Christian cemetery lurks nearby, adding further layers of fascination and enigma to this region steeped in thousands of years of history.

The Discovery of the Etruscan Pyramid

Discovered back in 1911, this extraordinary pyramid has long remained in the shadows, escaping the attention of official archaeology. It is a  imposing structure, approximately 10 metres highwith its steps that ifmends ascending towards the sky. Its truncated pyramid shape is reminiscent of the religious altars of the Maya culture. But its dating, like its true nature, remains shrouded in mystery. Its original function is still the subject of speculation and theories that fascinate fans of history, and archaeology. But the thrill of seeing it emerge from the shadows of the forest is indescribable, as if time stood still before this tangible testimony to a past yet to be revealed.

The Past Comes to Light

From the day of its discovery, for a long time the Etruscan Pyramid remained in a state of total abandonment. Only since 2008 has the pyramid tbrought to light thanks to the dedication of a local resident, Salvatore Fosci. For years, Salvatore has dedicated himself to cleaning the vegetation and maintaining the paths leading to this mysterious place, while also activating a ambitious promotional work to publicise the Pyramid of Bomarzo to the whole world. Thanks to him, it is now possible to visit this masterpiece carved in peperino stone that has spanned more than two millennia of history to make us feel part of the civilisations that preceded us.

Route through nature

The route to the Etruscan Pyramid is anything but easy, but it is full of charm and adventure. These are the site coordinates: 42° 30′ 17″ North and 12° 15′ 60″ East. The main entrance to La tagliata delle Rocchette is the starting point, and from there, through woods and paths, you walk for about 400 metres until you reach the double uphill signpost in the trees. It is here that the Etruscan Pyramid unveils its grandeurwith its two flights of stairs leading up to the high altar, where the Etruscan priest perhaps once offered rites to the gods of the underworld.

Chinese imperial boat

The Chinese Imperial Boat Hidden in the Woods of the Cimini Mountains

Amidst the lush woods of Tuscia Viterbese, there is a place that has the power to transport the visitor to another space-time dimension. This is the Tenuta Sant'Egidio where the remains of the surprising Church of the Holy Trinity guard a precious Chinese Imperial marble boat.
Table of contents:
  1. Where the boat is located
  2. Love for China
  3. Extraordinary meeting
  4. The promise of conservation
  5. Brotherhood and respect between peoples

The Sant'Egidio Estate

La Tenuta Sant'Egidio is a private area of about 130 hectares on the north-eastern slope of Monte Cimino, which has become, by the owners' will, a educational forest. Walking through the woods of the estate you can admire monumental oak and beech trees, caves, springs and rocky outcrops. And then suddenly the remains of the walls of a church, the Holy Trinity, dating back to the 13th century and for centuries a hermitage of monks. Together with what remains of the ancient church a striking and alienating Chinese imperial boat in white marble. But how did this boat get here and why?

The Blessings and Love for China

The Chinese Imperial Boat came to Italy thanks to theItalian entrepreneur-philanthropist Eugenio Benedettifather of Azzurra Benedetti, the current president of the GEA Association from which the idea of the educational forest originated. Eugenio, nicknamed 'the new Marco Polo', was in love with the People's Republic of China and for many years travelled all over the country, contributing to its economic and cultural renaissance. One of his most famous operations was the opening of 34 marble quarries in the Hebei and Honan mountains, which are still operating today, from which he extracted one of the most beautiful marbles in the world. In 1965 Eugenio also had the opportunity to meet theLast Chinese Emperor Pu Yikey character in unravelling the mystery of the Viterbo imperial boat.

An extraordinary meeting

By now demoted to a simple citizen and appointed head of the Gardens of the Imperial Summer Palace in Beijing, Pu Yi commissioned Eugenio to save and restore the boat built in 1865 to mark the 60th birthday of Empress Ci Xi, his mother. The boat is still moored on the Kunming River at Peking Palace. In ancient China, boats were true masterpieces of craftsmanshipused to transport precious goods along the rivers and canals of the vast Chinese empire. The imperial boat was a symbol of respect, power and elegance.

Restoration and Conservation

The conservation operation succeeded and was greatly appreciated by the Chinese government; Eugenio received a gift for his 75th birthday as a thank you for his work, 100 tonnes of white marble composed of 3,000 hand-carved and chiselled pieces. The material was used for build a 1:3 scale replica of Empress Ci Xi's boatas a sign of love from China to Italy. The imperial boat was then placed inside the estate, where Eugenio expressed his wish to be buried when his time comes.

Symbol of brotherhood between peoples

Thus the mystery is explained. The Chinese imperial boat on the Tenuta Sant'Egidio is more than just a monument; it is a homage to brotherhood between different culturesa symbol of peace and cooperation between peoples. But, above all, it is a representation of the love of a son for his mother and of the interconnection between seemingly distant cultures. The marble imperial boat in the heart of Tuscia Viterbese is a precious testimony to historyan indelible memory of great modern characters. A historical memory to be preserved and handed down to future generations.

The Castle Wheel

The Mysterious Object: The Wheel of Torre Alfina Castle

In a hidden room of the castle is an enigmatic vertically mounted iron wheel. What is it and what was the wheel of Torre Alfina Castle used for?

Objects used in past eras often appear mysterious and intriguing to our contemporary eyes. Beneath the appearance of simple artefacts are often hidden ingenious and innovative solutions that have marked the history and daily lives of people. One of these fascinating objects is the large Iron wheel of the Torre Alfina Castleobject that played a key role in the distribution of water in the rooms of theancient dwelling.

Table of contents:
  1. Access to water in medieval dwellings
  2. Bathing culture during the Renaissance
  3. Historical testimony of human ingenuity

Water in Medieval Dwellings

In general, medieval castles and noble residences were equipped with wells, cisterns and decorative tanks, often located in inner courtyards or gardens. These structures served as domestic water access points. But in the Middle Ages, the need for water was limited almost exclusively to cooking. There were no plumbing or sewage systems. Toilets, when present, were either open seats directly on the moat or on holding tanks. Personal hygiene was an unknown concept. Only gentlemen indulged in the occasional bath in a basin and there were no real bathing rooms. The water distribution was therefore entrusted to servants who filled buckets or other containers and carried them to the kitchen or to the stately rooms to satisfy daily needs.

Renaissance and Bath Culture

It was not until the Renaissance period that a new functional bathroom concept. The increased care devoted to personal hygiene, the drive towards refinement and comfort for the environment dedicated to body practices, led to the need to create a mechanised water distribution system and more efficient.
So we come to the unravelling of our mystery. The large iron wheel of the Torre Alfina Castle is a flywheel, a heavy disc connected to a hand pump which allowed water to be drawn from the cistern located in the castle courtyard. By operating the large wheel, the water rose to fill other cisterns strategically placed on the towers. From here, using gravitational force, water flowed through an intricate system of pipes to reach all the rooms in the castle.

Testimony of Human Ingenuity

The flywheel of the Torre Alfina Castle remained in operation until 1960when the manual pump was replaced by an electric one. Despite this the distribution system remained unchanged and water continues to supply the castle rooms by cascading down from the castle towers. Today it represents a historical testimony to the power of human ingenuity of transforming an everyday object into a fundamental instrument of innovation. The preservation of objects no longer in use represents a tangible testimony of our historical and technological evolution. Keeping the memory of these objects alive, we preserve the link with our past. These objects are not mere relics, but bridges connecting the past to the future, offering valuable perspectives on our ever-evolving journey.

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