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Castel San Giovanni


Castel San Giovanni


San Giovanni della Botonta (its name disappeared in oral tradition, it dates back to Trevi commune's chronicles and reforms ) built under jurisdiction of Trevi commune, whose territory it belongs, being part of "terziere del piano" or "porcarie" along with S.Lorenzo Picciche and Cannaiola, likely between 1353 and 1358 as rampart fortified with a moat, terreplain and palisades to protect houses from mugging by Fra Moriale army, soldier of fortune no more serving cardinal Egidio Albornoz, organizer for "Papal State", against whom he was in open battle. The castle was built gradually, there are four towers at the corners linked by powerful boundary walls unmatched in the spoletinian plane, in the very beginning of 1400 and thirty years later riots begun to spread also because of spoletinians and edicts from Martino V definying first the parrish limit and full indipendence until year 1432 when they released communal statutes.
Manoeuvres are performed in the shadow of spoletinian strenght whom C.S.Giovanni inhabitants swear to offer the "palio" during S.Maria feast in middle August. Trevi does not resign and doesn't miss to ask for help from popes and powerful neighbours to get the important territory back: opportunity is given when the terrible pillage of 1474 striking the town of Spoleto dims its strenght and undermine expansionist claims. Amongst allies taking part in Spoleto's disruptions we see inhabitants of Perugia, Spello, Foligno, Montefalco, Bevagna and Assisi -also Trevi albeit playing a secondary role, fearing avenges once hostilities would cease- under patronate from Giuliano della Rovere ( soon to be Giulio II) and lead by Giulio Cesare Varano da Camerino and Braccio Malatesta Baglioni Lord of Spello.
Trevi stubbornly ask for rejoining of C.S.Giovanni through endless negotiations and countless messages to the cardinal until Sisto IV with papal bull ratify it on S.Lorenzo's Day, August the 10th 1474. Once enemies hold is relaxed, Spoleto recovers and , with support from castle inhabitants and Bernardino Manenteschi delivering the tower where weapons were kept, on 7th June 1502 it regains this castle destroying the stem and throwing in the ditch the S.Emiliano statue. Skirmishes and retaliations for ultimate achieving of this fertile, well farmed and for a long time contested land amidst territories of both the important towns (like the same toponym "botonta" seems to suggest) alternate with real battles like the siege lasting 13 days lead by famous Saccoccio Cecili on September the 1st 1503:"eodem Saccoccio ducente Castrum SanctiJohanni possessum... spoletini non parva obsidione recuperaverunt".
Chroniclers of the time provide us with many details: papal commissary Attilio da Soriano with two fellow-citizens, 14 people from Foligno, four from Bevagna, the constable, two people from S.Giovanni were killed, not to mention disruption of surrounding hamlets with houses destroyed and cutting of vines and elm trees.
Giulio II after verifying revenges taken by Spoleto and the bloodthirsty way the castle was deprived, gives it back to Trevi in 1504 thus leading again Spoleto to mug and pillage ruining the mill near Tatarena, they steal 33 domestic animals including cows, horses and mules. The peace is reached after reforming quarrels and lessening grudges and this allow to build the bridge(1508) but as soon as the Pope passed away (1513) Spoleto try to reconquest the castle upon pretext boundary quarrels arming over 7000 among soldiers and riders and set on fire, destroy houses, disrupts fields cutting vines and olive trees, causing offences and death: documents from the ancient Trevi archive list amongst assaulted hamlets Borgo Trevi, Collecchio, Matigge, Parrano, Santa Maria in Valle, Manciano, Coste, Fratta, Picciche.

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Hostilities between Spoleto and Trevi to get hold of C.S.Giovanni last from both sides: Trevi inhabitants bring damages in the Spoleto territory near San Brizio, Spoleto inhabitants on their side cut thousands vines and olive trees breaking Marroggia banks near Pissignano. In 1516 a man from S.Giovanni is hung in Trevi's main square, two young men from Campello are slayed, a Bazzano inhabitant is beheaded; Spoleto inhabitants bring death to Borgo di Trevi. Meanwhile S.Giovanni population wants to fortify again the castle and add a new watchtower.
Continuous further disruptions feed hate between Trevi and Spoleto and finally the Pope together with Silvio Passerini da Cortona grants for agreedments over controversial domain on C.S.Giovanni taken under seizure sub poena of 10.000 ducati until Leone X grants it to Spoleto "con motu" on 1520 under payment of 3700 ducati.
The Trevi community try again to recover the castle and for this reason it addresses various requests to the new pope Clemente VII so that he void decision taken from his predecessor and moreover place amongst people in charge of its administration two representers from S.Giovanni, according to "balie" of Picciche and S.Luca to have each one a counseillor missing , like it happened from 1474, custom enforced even until 1704. Life of the small rural commune C.S.Giovanni continues active in the shadow and under Spoleto jurisdiction until 1875 when a royal decree states its suppression and annexion to Castel Ritaldi's commune already enalrged thanks to achievement of Colle del Marchese: thus the denomination "Comune di Castel Ritaldi e S.Giovanni" design the enlarged communal territory until 1927 and the Spoleto's knight, standing out clearly above the entrance to S.Giovanni's castle and taking place of the papal lion in the communal gonfalon, marks out a prestige and power continuity echoeing from time to time in proud remarks by some C.S.Giovanni inhabitant.

"It costs more than San Giovanni to Trevi".

Did you know that in Castel San Giovanni there is an altar-piece made by a famous painter of 1600s ? Noo? Well, also neither almost all of us, living and born in this village, knew that: despite the fact that ten years ago, the painting was attributed by prof. Bruno Toscano to a famous painter: Giuseppe Ghezzi that, from Comunanza (Ancona) where he was born moved to Roma gaining an enormous success among noble and powerful families of the time and at papal court as well. There is an exibition at Palazzo Barberini care of the National Gallery of Ancient Art dedicated to his son Pier Leone, one of best painters of the time. The painting represents a nativity striking for brightness and contrast between white red and black, beside the clear post-Raffaellian inspiration. Upon request the painting can be seen at the parrishal church.

In the beginning of 1400 inhabitants of the Bastia di S.Giovanni community belonging to the countryside of the Trevi commune, started a sequence of oppositions and riots lasting decades and ending in a rebellion so diplomatically handled that even gained indipendence from Trevi. December the first 1423, pope Lartino V promote the Bastia di San Giovanni to castle and afterwards, 25th May 1428, with papal bull "Licet ex iniuncto" withdrew it from Trevi disctrict domain and jurisdiction and raised to the role of castle it was subjugated to the Holy See, like already happened to communes of Colle del Marchese and Castel Ritaldi.
After the papal disposal querrels and grudges involving both communities lasted for further two years ending with a new papal disposition on 28 March 1430, with the bull "sincere devotionis " ordining final separation from Trevi and immediate subjugation to Papal Court allowing a kind of self-administration controlled by clergymen directly placed in charge from Rome. At that time, the political issue assumed great stress and chroniclers report us this issue amongst them, a certain ser Francesco da Trevi describes it this way: "separoe papa Martino predicto la Bastia de Sancto Iohanni de Trevi et fo chiamato castello sancto Iohanni. Et pe piý de quattro anni prima sempre fue grande discordia tra quilli de Trevi et quilli de sancto Iohanni". Shortly after being granted self-administration from the pope and permission to enjoy privileges and immunities allowed by the Holy See in these circumstances,castle inhabitants quickly proceeded to regulate their life so that they managed on 11th March 1431 to extablish communal boundaries and on 18th September 1432 to promulgate Statutes of Castel San Giovanni, despite we miss documents of privilege and exemption definiying rights and duties of inhabitants.

First governor of Castel San Giovanni, after being granted indipendence from Trevi, was cardinal Antonio Correr, also known as "Il bolognese", who, on 18th September 1432, approved the first code for castle compiled by six community members and written by notary Giacomo di Cecco da Poggiodomo di Cascia. The body of C.s.G. Statutes is divided in four books: De redimine, De maleficiis, Causarum civilium, Dampnorum datorum, summing up to 158 surveys.
During 1444, while Amoretto Coldumario was governor of C.s.S. and Lord of the Rocca di Spoleto, , his vicar, Nicola Rigutii da Spello, rimise mano allo statute compiling an index based upon the different surveys of the four books. In 1463, while Bartolomeo Pieri Piccolomoni was Lord of the castle, six statutories were in charge to draft twenty surveys later transcribed in the statutes book by vicar ser Ludovico di ser Andrea a Recanati, without progressive numbering and titles these surveys, with approval from governor Bartolomeo Pieri released on 2nd September 1463, became the fifth book of statutes bringing the title "De estraordinariis". In the meantime the first four statutes books were submitted to Pietro Lodovico Borgia, rector of dukedom of Spoleto, who gave approval to them on 9th December 1456, so we can draw that at the time of approval by Borgia those sheets where later were added the twenty surveys making the fifth book were left blank. From the juridical material contained in them, it's not easy to argue the spirit giving life to the compiling of Statutes, it's still allowed to suppose that compilers were heavily influenced by that time general applicatione of Egyptian Constitutions on the whole Papal State.
We're uncertain about how far we can date the foundation of Castel San Giovanni, anyway it's possible to refer to, linking to the study of environment, the famous "Lex spoletina", Roman law from second half of III century B.C. found in two cippi, the former in St. Quirico church the latter near Picriche, where it's written that in these places, and below Castel Ritaldi to reach up over Mordicchia, there were oak woods dedicated to Jupiter whose cutting was forbidden, places therefore sacred by tradition and assuming settlements. Still nowadays many Farnia hygrophile oaks survive in the countryside between Castel S. Giovanni and Picciche, it's one of the most magnificient species amongst oaks, this alone could explain the roman law from the III century B.C. and also let imagine settlements dating back well before the XI century, time when we have first references from the oldest documents kept in the archives of Trevi and Spoleto.
This important settlement in the countryside of Trevi, in locality balža della Porcaria and terziere del piano, was initially defended by a stockade surrounded by a moat or charcoal pit filled by water almost stagnant fed by streams originating from a source called "Castle spring" located south east of the structure and from a web of rain-collecting ramifications drawing from Alviolo, going upstream, from "fiumicella", where it was forbidden to throw stones or to ret hemp or linen.
The fertile rural zone, where the population of Castel San Giovanni settled, bordered with Normannia, a little province including Castel Ritaldi, Colle del Marchese, Mordicchia, Castagnola, Macciano and Giano, with the Spoleto dukedom pushing as far as Villa di Berodi, later turned to castle, and with the territory of Montefalco below mountains but, together with "terzieri" of Picciche and S. Lorenzo, it was for long time given as fief and under jurisdiction of Trevi albeit contested, on alternate stages, with Spoleto.