|Edward Lear- Ponte Clementino and Fortezza Sangallo|
with Monte Soratte in the background
Recently Italian Culture Minister Franceschini announced that museums in Italy would be free on the first Sunday of each month. At the same time he annulled the existing free entrance for citizens over 65, annoying pensioners who had been enjoying this valuable cultural opportunity during the week.
|one of many papal monuments|
|Julius II fireplace|
He is also getting into hot water with other European member states for cancelling existing reciprocal agreements. Somehow it doesn’t make sense to be able to visit state museums in France, Spain and other European community cities freely while paying a full price entrance ticket to visit museums in one's own country.
|main courtyard of the Fortezza di Sangallo|
It was a nice surprise then to visit Civita Castellana’s Museo dell'Agro Falisco last Saturday and also enjoy a free hour-long tour with the head of the museum for the past 30 years.
|with Claudio, Caposervizio at the Museum for over 30 years|
Signor Claudio showed us and another couple around, explaining the history, architecture and exhibits as if he were showing friends around his own home.
The imposing fortress/museum was built by Sangallo the Elder for the Borgia and Della Rovere popes (Alexander VI and Julius II) in the Renaissance years in order to guard the roads to Rome, a day's march away.
Later it used as a prison for the Papal States and during the second world war numerous homeless families found refuge here after the city was bombed.
The fortified castle has a very picturesque setting with towers and moats overlooking steep gorges and the Clementino bridge. Since it was constructed in 1712, the bridge has been a favorite subject for painters of the Grand Tour as well as those contemporary artists who come to paint here each summer.
|well head with Pope Julius II's coat of arms|
|crossing the drawbridge|
|one of the painted loggias|
The museum’s collections include Etruscan and Greek vases once belonging to the local noble Feroldi family, a unique Etruscan chariot, terracotta and marble sculpture and funerary monuments.
Visitors can admire objects of the Faliscans and realize what a shame it is that so little is left of this pre-Roman civilization which flourished in Falerii Veteres, nowadays known as Civita Castellana.