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Michetti Museum (Mu.Mi.)
Mumi stands for the Michetti museum and it isheld in a building which was built in the first half of the sixteenhundreds.It was a Dominican convent which was adjacent to the Sanctuary “Madonna delle Grazie” which used to be where the lookout of Piazza San Domenico is now. The German troops destroyed the church and almost all of the convent during the second World War. After the war it was rebuilt in a classic style and it became the home of the Francavilla trown council. The council offices were later transferred across the road and the building was extended thanks to a design by Mose Ricci and Filippo Spaini. In 1997 it became the Michetti Museum. The entrance is formed by a cloister with a pointed arch and various cultural events are held here all year round. On the first floor there is the permanent art exhibition of the winners of the Michetti prize, anannual art competition held in Francavilla every summer. It was established in 1947 and is one of the most important events on the national an international calendar.Going back to the cloister, there is the entrance to the hypogeum an it is split into two levels. The top one holds art exhibitions and the Michetti prize. The bottom floor has two enormous canvases that Francesco Paolo Michetti painted for an international art exhibition in Paris in 1900.

San Francesco’s Church
The area at the top of the old town of Francavilla is called “la Civitella”, a name given to the oldest part of a town. Here, one can see the ruins of the very first church built in Francavilla. It was originally dedicated to san Giovanni Battista and later changed to San Francesco as a Franciscan convent was built next to it in the thirteenhundreds. Not much is left of the church, just the vestry behind the high altar and a small part of the transept. The two single lancet windows of the vestry in a calcareous frame and the capital of a corner column indicate that it was probably built around 1200 AD. The only remaining piece of the convent is a long, brick and stone wall. Next to San Franco there is Ciarrapico Tower. It is an incorrect definition as it isn’t actually a tower but an elegant residence on four floors. It was built between the sixteen and seventeenhundreds by the family who lived there at that time and whom the tower is still named after.

Ciarrapico Tower
On the top floor it has an open gallery with a spectacular view both of the coast and the hillside.An even better view can be obtaining by going up to the balcony on the roof.Opposite Ciarrapico Tower it is possible to see an ancient tower of the wall that surrounded the old town. It is a semi cylindrical building in brickwork, built in the year 1200 to guard the entrance named Porta Ripa. It was part of a defensive wall with seven towers to protect the three entrances to the town. One towards the sea and the other two towards the countryside, almost as if they characterized the inhabitants of the primitive town of Francavilla which were fishermen and

Michetti Convent
Just outside of the centre on a green hill overlooking the sea there is a building complex known as Michetti convent. It is made up of the church of Santa Maria del Gesù built in the fifteenth century, but renovated two centuries later, and a small Franciscan convent, bought in1885 by Francesco Paolo Michetti to live in and use as a studio for his paintings. Next to the church there is the charming pear shaped bell tower, typical of its era. During the last decades of the nineteenth century Michetti used the convent as a meeting point for local artists to work in peace an quiet. Some of the most famous works of Gbriele D’Annunzio were writen here, for example “Il Piacere” which was his first novel in 1889 and Il trionfo della morte and le vergini delle rocce. Memories of his fervid activity in the convent were written several times in his diaries. Other artists that worked there include the musician Francesco Paolo Tosti, the author of many novels admired by the English monarchy, the sculptor Costantino Barbella and occasionally Giulio Aristide Sartorio, Edmondo De Amicis, Ugo Oietti and other leading Italian and European figures who went to visit. Inside this simply styled building there is a small cloister with an ancient well in the centre. On each side there are theso called “big eyes” which are large circular windows desired by Michetti so he could see both the sea and the surrounding countryside. In the refectory there are dome photographs which show Michetti’s interest of these mechanical objects that recorded reality even though cameras were at an early stage. His palette and other instrumentscan be seen in his adjacent study.

CONVENTO “FRANCESCO PAOLO MICHETTI”

Noto più semplicemente come Convento Michetti o anche come “Cenacolo michettiano” o “Cenacolo dannunziano”, è divenuto oggi uno dei simboli della città. L’edificio fu eretto nel 1430 dai frati minori dell’Osservanza per poi passare al demanio comunale subito dopo il ricongiungimento dell’Abruzzo al Regno d’Italia. Fu acquistato, nella prima metà degli anni ottanta dell’Ottocento, da Francesco Paolo Michetti che, dopo averlo radicalmente ristrutturato, vi stabilì la propria residenza e ne fece un centro di incontri e di scambi culturali. Come si è già avuto modo di segnalare, fu frequentato da celebri intellettuali, letterati ed artisti che gli assicurarono una proiezione nazionale ed internazionale. Fra i suoi ospiti più assidui vi furono Gabriele D’Annunzio (da qui il nome di “cenacolo dannunziano” con cui è anche conosciuto), Francesco Paolo Tosti, Costantino Barbella, Basilio Cascella, Edoardo Scarfoglio e Matilde Serao. Il campanile è in stile orientaleggiante.

San Franco – the exeterior
In the heart of the old part of Francavilla there is monumental church of Santa Maria Maggiore, more commonly known as San Franco after the patron saint of Francavilla. The original building was a national monument built in the thirteenth century and destroyed under German occupation during winter 1943-44. A competiton was held by the sacred Art Commission to rebuild the church and it was won by Ludovico Quaroni, a professor at Rome University, the new church was rebuilt and consacrated in 1957. The exterior is unusual and quite bare with its brick walls, the white stone base and the essential reinforced concrete corner pillars.The actual size of this mighty church is amazing. It has an octagonal perimeter with different length sides, perched on the edge of a hill surrounded by pine trees and it isconsequently visible for miles around. On one side there is a bell tower, built with concrete pillars and a brick wall at the bottom. On top of the bell there is a lithe spire and a cross in wrought iron. At the front of the church a red stone and terracotta design of the Virgin Mary and child sits above the cantilever roof which is engraved with various images. Two symbolic statues sit by the door, a lion holding a snake between his jaws and a host spurting water. These plastic works of art were made by Andrea and Pietro Cascella. The white stone body of the parsonage extends to the right while on the right hand side there is a hexagonal tank with metal sides and a mosaic style bottom which subtitutes the baptistery indicated on the original design by Quaroni.


San Franco – interior
On entering the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore one remains surprised by the vast central space and the natural light that filters down through the high windows. The white walls rise up to form the vault in which there is a silhouette of a huge cross. The white impact is softened by a series of holes in the concave cover and the metal cables which link the peak of the vault to the octagonal shaped room. It is worth observing the mixture of lights and shadows, the central section filled with light contrasts with the semidarkness of the ambulatory sides. A terracotta frieze along the church wall by Andrea and Pietro Cascella represents the opposition between the hard life on earth and faith in God. There are also white statues by Pietro Cascella in the presbytery for example: the high altar, the choir, the ambo and the Paschal candle. Recently the floor has been resurfaced in polychrome bricks and the presbytery area has been restored where a large silver cross of Raimondo Volpe is on display. The windows with decorated grilles in wrought iron again made by the Cascellas have been replaced with polychrome panels. On the back wall there is the silhouette of the monument by Pietro Cascella which symbolizes the military destruction of Francavilla and its rebirth. The side walls are decorated with the stations of the Cross. Next to the church there is a collection of treasures. The most important piece is a monstrance by Nicola of Guardiagrele dated 1413. A fine example of late gothic chiselled silver jewellery and enriched by enamels. Among the other treasures there is a silver bust of San Franco, a seventeenth century work of art by the Neapolitan school, and a painting of San franco by Pietro Annigoni.


Gli storpi e le serpi
On the right of the entrance there is a painting by the Storpi showing a group of pilgrims heading to the sanctuary who see some beggars showing their illnesses in the hope of receiving money. On a slope there are two young girls who curiously watch this scene and in contrast there are two oxen which demonstrate the indifference of nature towards human suffering. On the opposite wall there is a painting of the snake procession held in Cocullo, a small village in the Abruzzo mountains on the first Thursday in May. Snakes are captured and then put onto the statue of Sain Domenico, completely covering it. The whole procession made up of all sorts of people and various colours seems in itself a slithering snake.