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Rocky Church of

Rocky Church of "Madonna del Parto" - pilgrims on their way

Sutri is a town of very ancient origins and boasts ruined and surviving monuments from Etruscan times down through the Middle Ages. Next to the town is one of the most important Roman ruins of Latium: an amphitheatre dating back to 1st century BC to the 1st Century AD. The amphitheatre is entirely hewn out of the tufa rock. The pre-Romanesque Sutri cathedral was built over the ruins of an early Christian basilica and was consecrated in 1207 by Pope Innocent III. The interior of the cathedral has many important artistic treasures. The floor of the central nave is made up of Cosmati mosaics; the church also has a Roman School painting of the 18th century, a valuable wooden statue of Santa Dolcissima attributed to the Bernini School. The crypt dates back to the times of Longobards. Porta Franceta, also known as Porta Vecchia (the Old Gate) was built in the 14-15th century out of large blocks of tufa, peperino and travertine and is one of the most picturesque and engaging spots in the whole city. Villa Staderini was built in the 18th century by the Muti-Papazzurri family of Roman marquis. It is surrounded by an Italian-style garden which has many archaeological remains in it. The Church of Madonna del Monte (Our Lady of the Mount), built in 1725, contains a 14th-century painting of the Virgin and Child. Next to Villa Staderini is the ruined "Castle of Charlemagne", so called because the emperor is supposed to have lodged there once. In fact, the castle dates back only as far as the 13th century. The church of the Madonna del Parto (Our Lady of the Virgin Birth) is cut into the tufa and some believe that the church is built on the site of an ancient Etruscan tomb. Others believe it to be a former sanctuary to the god Mithras that was converted to Christian use. The original structure consists of three naves and the frescoes refer to legends connected with the Sanctuary of the Archangel Michael and the vision on Mount Gargano. This church is a must for tourists and scholars alike. Around one kilometre south of Sutri is the necropolis, an area made up of 64 Roman tombs of various types, all of them excavated into the tufa. The Church of the Madonna del Tempio (Our Lady of the Temple), formerly owned by the Order of the Knights Templar, is to be found amidst the hospices and churches that used to provide lodgings for pilgrims. Every 17 January, celebrations are held to mark the feast of St Antony, protector of animals, whose image is still to be seen in many barns. Starting from 10 September, the patronal feasts begin with the Blessing of the Bean and the artisan trade fair.

 

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