Friday, July 27, 2012

Hidden Towers of Etruria

the bell tower  hides  a medieval tower within  
The square  bell tower guarding the entrance to the medieval hamlet of Bassano in Teverina  holds a secret. 
Its stout 17th century walls hide another, medieval tower  invisible to the outside world. 
entrance to  medieval town center across a moat bridge

1700s tower  decorated with a ceramic clock 

This   tower within a tower is   unique, definitely   material for  the Guinness book of records.
How did it happen? It seems that the original tower  was enclosed by the "modern"  one when  the town's defenses  were  updated in the  1700s. 
It was easier to enclose the existing one than to destroy it then rebuild.

sign on the tower entrance 

Santa Maria dei Lumi -also open during festivities
 During the weekend of July  28-29 the annual festivities in the town of Bassano in Teverina will include  guided visits of the double  bell tower, now restored and fitted out  with a lift, allowing visitors to admire the decorations on the medieval tower as they ascend to the top.  

view over Tiber valley from Bassano in Teverina

The hamlet suffered from bombing during the last world war  and over several decades restoration has taken place to transform the castle ruins  into an apartment building housing about 30 families. 
economic council apartments have risen  from castle ruins

view  with swimming pool 
In the  18th century large palazzi were built in the newer part of the town and today they contain holiday apartments, a restaurant and even a swimming pool hidden behind high walls.

holiday apartments  in an ancient palazzo

another  private pool lies behind these walls

 Bassano in Teverina from the double tower

Not too far away, along the Orte-Viterbo superstrada, another  tower can be seen rising above the Mediterranean brush  near the tiny village of  Chia.
Chia medieval tower and residential complex  

Pasolini's tower located  near Soriano nel Cimino and Bassano in Teverina

 This is  Pasolini's  tower , once the hideaway of  famed Italian  poet and film director, Pier Paolo Pasolini.  
Years ago, when the construction of the  modern complex  was still under way, the builders  let me look around. The modern living quarters built  beneath the tower resembled a ranch house and contained five ensuite bedrooms  for  guests.

The complex is private property and officially not visitable, but it seems that a cultural association is planning a Literary Park in the area along the banks of the stream once used as a film set by  Pasolino. 

There is such a wealth of interesting sites and possibilities for tourism in the area of Tuscia/Etruria yet many remain  forgotten  and abandoned.  

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  1. fascinating post about these towers. Although you cannot go inside the Pasolini tower of Chia, you can wander about the grounds, where there is, or was when I visited there some time ago, a picnic table for hikers. It's a haunting spot. I used it as a model for the tower of Federigo del Re in my novel The Etruscan. Thanks also for posting a link to my travel essay on the tower. --Linda Lappin

  2. and thank you Linda for taking a look and the time to comment. Is your book "The Etruscan" now available in ebook format?

  3. Today the Mayor of Bassano, Alessandro Romoli, gave us a private tour of the hidden tower. Full report and photos next week. Learned that the palazzo with altana(arched tower) that you see in the photos above, belongs to recently deceased artist Cy Twombly. His son Alexander was a student of mine years ago.