Urbisaglia and the Abbey of Santa Maria di Chiaravalle di Fiastra
The Cistercian Abbey of Santa Maria di Chiaravalle di Fiastra was built in 1142 by a group of monks from Milan on a territory donated by Werner, Margrave of Ancona and Duke of Spoleto. The monks took the building material from the destroyed Roman city of Urbs Salvia and began the reclamation of the surrounding territory.
In addition to the privileges granted by popes Eugene III and Gregory VIII, in 1210 the Cistercians were also favored by emperor Otto IV, who ordered lay and ecclesiastical lords not to interfere in the life and goods of the monks by prohibiting the introduction of weapons in the territories of the monastery.
In 1242, Frederick II confirmed their benefits by ordering not to bother the vassals of the Abbey and to respect their privileges. Such a choice was part of the common attitude of protection of the Cistercians, already implemented in the Kingdom of Sicily. With a diploma dated 1260, Manfred legislated in favor of the monks, defined as “our faithful subjects”, and ordered his vicar Enrico da Ventimiglia to protect them.
In 1237, the Offoni family’s goods were divided between the Abbey and Urbisaglia’s Abbracciamonte lords, who did not tolerate the power of Fiastra’s abbots. A slow (and military) collapse forced the Abbracciamonte family to leave Urbisaglia under the control of nearby Tolentino, which had expanded its borders by convincing many lords to move their homes within the Tolentino community.
Tolentino, almost always faithful to the Church, did not refuse the empire’s profitable interference. Enrico da Ventimiglia, Manfred’s vicar general, donated the castle of Belforte, while in 1262 the new vicar of the Swabians, Conrad of Antioch, also granted them further privileges to keep them under the control of the Swabian side.
A journey through Urbisaglia’s history and art
The majestic Roman ruins of Urbs Salvia recall a flourishing and ancient history that probably began in the first half of the 1st century BC. In the Republican era, it became an important independent Roman municipality led by the noble Salvia gens (family). The bad relation with Augustus downgraded it to a simple colony, but under Tiberius it experienced years of great splendor with the construction of an amphitheater, theater, temple, aqueduct that are still visible in the Archaeological Park. The end of the Roman empire was also that of Urbisaglia, abandoned by its inhabitants who sought shelter on the heights until the definitive destruction imposed by Visigothic king Alaric. In front of the solemn remains of the Roman city, they stopped to observe and write. Procopius from Caesarea, almost a century after Alaric’s destruction, bitterly stated that “nothing remained of the pristine splendor but a single door and few remains of the floor...”, and Dante Alighieri in the 16th Canto of the Divine Comedy’s Paradiso:
“If thou consider Luni and Urbisaglia
how they have gone, and how now in their wake
Chiusi and Sinigaglia go their way,
it will not seem or strange for thee or hard,
to hear how families degenerate,
since even cities have their term of life.”
On the top of the hill, the current look of Urbisaglia’s Rocca stronghold dates back to a series of modernization and extension works completed in 1507, when the use of gunpowder forced the revision of military architectural techniques with massive wall slips.
Besides the stronghold, the beautiful Piazza Minerva designed by Giuliano Giganti, the Museo delle Armi e delle Uniformi (Museum of Weapons and Uniforms) from the period of Italy’s unification to World War II, and the Archaeological Museum that houses some of the remains from Urbs Salvia are worth visiting. The Abbey of Santa Maria di Chiaravalle di Fiastra is the most important monastery in the Marche region with its Lombard Cistercian style and the superb 72-meter church. Today the entire structure is nestled in the nature reserve of the same name with an active offer of history, art, and nature with guided tours, picnic area, horse riding and cycling routes, a sensory path for disabled visitors, rest areas and local product stores, convention area, Museo della Civiltà Contadina (Museum of Peasant Civilization), Museo del Vino (Wine Museum), and Museo Archeologico (Archaeological Museum).
The IME - The Marches Food and Wine Institute recommends:
Ciauscolo, also known as ciavuscolo or ciabuscolo, is certainly a "family jewel" of Marche region's pork butchery. It can be immediately told apart from other cured meats because it is a meat spread. For this reason, many compare it to an extraordinarily tasty pâté. Its scent is delicate, aromatic, typical, firm and spicy. Its origin is lost in the mists of time and goes back to the traditional farming practice of processing pork.