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Discovering Polistena

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Discovering Polistena
DISCOVERING POLISTENA
Progetto PON “Comunichiamo in Inglese”
HISTORICAL NOTES
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The origins of Polistena are uncertain. Located on a ridge between
the Vacale, Jerulli and Jerapotamo torrents, it was a crossing point
for the people of Locri along the road towards their colony, Medma.
Polistena probably existed in the Byzantine period, but there is also
important evidence of the Roman era.
In 1669 the town obtained the title of Marquisate and City,
consolidating the ancient role of urban centre, silk and art market.
The town was destroyed by an earthquake in 1783.
A TOWN OF CULTURE AND ART
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Polistena was a town of culture and art.
In Polistena there was a school of sculpture, stucco decoration and
painting.
Morani and Jerace were the most important sculptors.
Polistena has an important musical tradition. Antonello Marafioti
was the most important musician in the 16th century.
CHURCHES AND WORKS OF ART
Chiesa Madre, with its imposing three-nave form,
contains a marble column of the Deposition of
Jesus Christ, a sixteenth century work of priceless
value. There is also a marble altar of SS.
Sacramento with the painting of “The Last Supper”
by F. Jerace. The “Resurrection of Lazarus” is a
magnificent
canvas prominent in the vault,
realised by C. Zimatore at the beginning of the
twentieth century. Very interesting is the wooden
choir stall, the work of G. Silipo (1893).
CHURCHES AND WORKS OF ART
Chiesetta dell’Annuziata was rebuilt after
the 1783 earthquake. It is a small church
containing a wooden statue of the Blessed
Virgin.
Chiesa di S. Maria degli Angeli is
located within Palazzo Riario Sforza.
The church has an altar made from
multicoloured marble; a marble relief
of S.Maria di Loreto; inscribed
headstones; a holy water stoup and a
marble sarchophagus by G.D. Milano.
CHURCHES AND WORKS OF ART
Chiesa di S. Francesco has a façade with an
imposing lithic portal and two terracotta
statues. Inside there are two woonden statues of
S. Francesco di Paola, one of them attribuited to
Francesco Morani; a headstone with incriptions
previosly belonging to the Convento dei Paolotti
and a marble pulpit with sculptures by. M.
Parlato.
Chiesa dell’Immacolata has a
single-nave interior with a wooden
roof with stuccowork. On the altar
there are the statues of St. Lucia
(accredited to Bernini), St. Catherine
and the Immaculate Conception (by
unknown sculptors).
CHURCHES AND WORKS OF ART
Chiesa del Rosario is a magnificent
building with two bell towers. It has a threenave interior with stuccoes and neoclassic
high reliefs. Inside there are paintings by
R.Carignani,
R.Scerbo
and
M.Tigani
together with a number of valuable statues
and stained-glass windows.
Chiesetta di S. Anna may have been a Basilian
eremite grotto and it is considered to be the oldest
building in Polistena. It remained intact during
the 1783 earthquake.
CHURCHES AND WORKS OF ART
Chiesa della Trinità has a two-level
façade with a series of two granite
columns, a lithic portal and a dome
lined with polychrome majolica tiles.
Inside there is a reliquary, a valuable
example of Umbrian culture, a wooden
statue and a painting of the Madonna
dell’Itria.
Chiesa della Madonna della Catena
is a destination for numerous pilgrims,
especially during the holiday period.
AMID ANCIENT BUILDINGS: THE ROMANTIC
ITINERARY
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Immediately after the earthquake, the town
was quickly rebuilt and an interesting
urban layout was created in the upper part
of the town, known as Evoli.
Here important aristocratic buildings were
constructed with imposing frontispieces
featuring floral motives, festoons, volutes,
Spanish balconies and huge portals from
local granite.
Among them Palazzo Valensise with its
private chapel S. Domenico, Palazzo
Jerace, Palazzo Avati and the ruins of
Palazzo Tigani.
In Piazza del Popolo there is the War
Memorial of Francesco Jerace.
THE OLD MEDIEVAL CENTRE ITINERARY
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The earliest inhabited centre can be identified in the
compact area of houses on the site of the ancient
church of S. Marina.
The populace had to adjust to repopulating the
ancient historic centre
rebuilding both the old
“Muraglie” and the “Arco” and “S. Maria” districts.
Here visitors will find a distinct Mediterranean
atmosphere with stairways, alleyways, terraces,
bridges, poor houses, votive niches and ruins of
various ancient monasteries in close succession.
Following this itinerary it is not difficult to come
across the Casa dei Jerace, with its marble
headstone in memory of Polistena’s famous artist
Francesco Jerace, or the Casa di Francesco
Morani, symbol of the Morani family, that expressed
its genius in the fields of statuary, sculpture and
painting.
SQUARES, GARDENS AND MONUMENTS:
THE MODERN TOWN
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The villas and gardens of Polistena form the green lung of
the town: Villa Italia, Parco della Liberazione, Parco di via
Gagarin, Villa. S. Maria, Villetta Municipio, the latter of
which is home to the monument to Marino Tigani. The
characteristic Laghetto delle Papere, home to a monument
of the Blessed Virgin by G. Niglia, is an area where
greenery, imagination and antiquity blend in a harmonius
conception of art.
Along via Nenni is a monument to Francesco Jerace.
SQUARES, GARDENS AND MONUMENTS:
THE MODERN TOWN
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The modern town boasts the modern majesty of the “Amphitheatre” on the
Jerapotamo, the efficient Town Hall, the Auditorium, the elegant Guest
Rooms the new Council Chamber, the S. Maria degli Ungheresi Hospital,
the sumptuous Scholastic Building in via Trieste with the War Memorial of
Marino Tigani and the new sport facilities in the P.I.P industrial district
with its various businesses.
The Town Library, with approximately 50,000 volumes, tends to specialise
more and more on the subject of Calabria.
Joined to the library, the Municipal Museum contains fossil and
archaeological finds; artistic documents; local antiquity and an ethnographic
centre.
RELIGIOUS AND SECULAR FESTIVALS,
TRADITIONS AND POPULAR DEVOTION
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Most of Polistena’s traditions, passed down over the centuries,
are linked to a deep religious sentiment.
Particulary suggestive are the Holy Week Rites with the visit
to the Sepulchres; the morning procession of Our Lady of
Sorrows; the nocturnal torchlight procession of the “Mysteries”
and the “Affruntata” between Christ Resurrected and Our
Lady on Sunday.
The feast of S. Marina with the procession of the simulacrum of
the Blessed Virgin of Bitinia, accompanied by a long line of
saints venerated in the town, represents a day of great devotion.
The Polistena Carnival has remote origins and nowadays it
consists of multi-coloured allegorical papier-mâché
floats,
dances, fanfares and majorettes.
GASTRONOMY, CRAFTWORK AND FAIRS
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The gastronomy of Polistena is simple and natural, typical of traditional rustic
Mediterranean cuisine seasoned with natural olive oil: stockfisch, dried cod,
friscatuli (polenta with vegetables), zimbatò, struncatura, zippuli, pitti chjni,
homemade cakes: nacatuli, pignolate, mustazzola, etc. Pastry making also enjoys a
certain renown, in particular that of torrone, that is still exported all over the
world.
Polistena has a rich heritage of craftsmen including carpenters, cabinet makers,
blacksmiths, tailors and printers as well as weavers who continue the tradition of
producing the famous “pezzare”. Polistena boasts an ancient tradition of fairs
dating back as far as 1498. The only fairs that remain today are those of All
Saints, The Blessed Virgin and The Catena.
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