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
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.
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
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
"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 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
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
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
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
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.