Acquaviva Picena and the Acquaviva family
One of the most significant members of the Acquaviva family we know of is the leader Rinaldo Acquaviva, son of Rinaldo known as “il Grasso” (the fat man) who had received some land from the emperor Henry VI of Swabia.
Another Rinaldo led the Swabian troops against Viterbo in 1231 and then became Cremona's Podesta.
With Enzo, Frederick II's son and vicar of the Marches, he led an army that is said to have consisted of 200 horsemen and 500 Saracens. It was employed to regain the Marches communes from the Pope in 1239.
His loyalty to the Swabian house never flinched and was sealed, in 1234, by the marriage of Forastéria, daughter of Rinaldo Acquaviva, with Rinaldo di Brunforte, self-appointed vicar of the emperor Frederick II of Swabia and very powerful lord of Sarnano.
During the first siege of Ascoli Piceno, in 1240, Frederick II chose the clergyman Rinaldo Acquaviva and took him to Agrigento where he became bishop. In 1258, he celebrated the mass for Manfred's coronation and was excommunicated by Pope Alexander IV. After reconnecting with his successor Urban IV, he always remained very close with Manfred.
In the years 1290-1292 the Acquaviva castle's territory was equally divided among three different branches of the house, that is among:
-Matteo di Gualtiero, lord of Morro, Canzano and Sant’Omero
-Corrado and Pietro, grandsons of Riccardo di Acquaviva, counts of San Valentino
-Forasteria, Tommasa and Elena (who had already died, leaving the other two sisters as the heirs), daughters of Rinaldo il grasso.
Matteo and Corrado denied the two women their share of inheritance, so much so that they appealed to the court of the Marches Rector, who recognised the legitimacy of their share.
The family's rise did not stop and in mid-fifteenth century, with the marriage of Andrea Matteo Acquaviva with Isabella Piccolomini of Aragon, they became one of the most important and long-standing Italian noble families, which last member was General Luigi Acquaviva, senator of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860 under the Cavour administration.
Between late 12th and early 13th century the Acquaviva family built their mighty Fortress here, which was conquered in July 1438 by Francesco Sforza, who drove Giosia Acquaviva out for good. The castle remained under Sforza domination until 2 June 1448, when the act subjecting Acquaviva to Fermo was drawn up.
Between 1486 and 1494 the castle's fortifications were rebuilt and the keep overlooking the current piazza del forte was added. Certain documents suggest that the very Baccio Pontelli may have contributed to the basic castle fortification design.
A journey through Acquaviva Picena’s history and art
Of Piceno origin, the town was owned by the Acquaviva family, a pro-Imperial family who built the fortress here, expanding the previous small fortification. In late fifteenth century, newly created firearms forced the old castles to modify their walls with high scarps and ramparts to ensure greater strength against artillery. Baccio Pontelli is presumed to have designed this upgrade and local skilled workers implemented it. The keep houses the Museo La Fortezza nel Tempo (The Fortress in Time Museum) featuring a mini tactile exhibition for the visually impaired, precious Piceno artefacts found in the Acquaviva area, and a VR video narrating the historical-architectural development of the Fortress. Enclosed in the walls is a village of rare beauty with little gems such as the fourteenth century church of St. Nicholas, now St. Rocco, with its Romanesque facade decorated with ceramic bowls, the parish church of St. Nicholas built between 1570 and 1602 by expanding the original church (community centre) of St. Rocco, the church of St. Lawrence established by the Augustinians in 1613, the church of St. George and the church of Santa Maria delle Palme. You cannot miss Palazzo Cancelli, the town hall, with its magnificent rooms frescoed with mythological scenes and, on the ground floor, the Sale del Palio ("Palio Halls") dedicated to the Sponsalia re-enactment and venue for exhibitions and conventions.
Outside the city walls is the oldest Franciscan convent in the Marche region, perhaps founded by the very St. Francis with the support of the Acquaviva family and, according to undocumented sources, with a donation by the very Frederick II. The Terraviva Association has been promoting and preserving the wise art of straw weaving for several years, called pajarola here, with exhibitions and training courses held by Master Straw Weavers.
The town's main event is Sponsalia, the re-enactment of the marriage between Forasteria d'Acquaviva and the great Rinaldo di Brunforte, Frederick II's vicar, which is celebrated inside the Fortress amid medieval banquets and fireworks that "light up" the Fortress.
The IME - The Marches Food and Wine Institute recommends:
Among white wines, Passerina di Offida DOCG has been cited since the 17th century and is a perfect match for shellfish, aged cheeses and dry pastries.
Falerio dei Colli Ascolani DOC is named after the Roman city of Faleria Augusta, which used to send excellent wine, wheat and oil to Rome. Perfect with fish soups and fried dishes like Ascoli-style stuffed olives.
Among red wines, Rosso Piceno DOC and Rosso Piceno Superiore DOC seem to be very ancient wines which are described by the Latin poet Polibius, who tells how Hannibal, on his way to Rome, had his tired horses massaged with local red wine. A firm wine that deserves to be matched with meat and truffle.
This is a traditional Marche dessert that has its roots in the farming tradition and is a real feast for the eyes and the mouth. A sweet shortcrust pastry shaped like the two halves of a peach filled with mouth-watering cocoa cream. To make them resemble even more the fruit they are inspired to, they are coated with Alchermes and sprinkled with pearl sugar.