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Abbey of Santa Croce in Sassoferrato

■ 23 September 2011 by James Martin

abbey santa croce pictureSassoferrato—I’ve mentioned it before—is quite a place. There are lots of things to see and do in the little village in the little-touristed Marche region of Italy.

Just outside Sassoferrato is the Abbey of Santa Croce, dated to around the second half of the 11th century, and probably the work of craftsmen from Lombardy. The bell tower you see in the picture is later, and was possibly added to protect the church; it appears as if a “shell” has been built around it.

Many of the columns in the Abbey church come from the nearby Roman site of Sentinum, which you can easily visit on the same day (see below for a visitor guide and an article on the delights of “hidden Italy” in Sassoferrato).

santa croce abbey pictureIn the middle ages there was a pilgrim’s hospice nearby, and the church displays a terracotta statue of the Pilgrim St. Rocco with the characteristic scallop shell attached to his coat. St. Rocco is a protector against the plague and all contagious diseases.

There are signs that the Knights Templar protected the church, and carvings attest to their presence.

There’s lots of evidence that the spot the abbey sits upon has been sacred for a long while; the church was built over a Temple dedicated to Mithros.

santa croce abbey door pictureThe protection this abbey got is evident in its incredible state of preservation. The brilliantly colored altarpiece you see above hasn’t been restored, only years of candle soot has been removed.

The portal, which you see to the right, is hidden, the stone frames carved with floral, animal and geometric motifs—quite interesting animals, as you’re likely to find on nearly every Romanesque Church!

Below are some more pictures of the column capitals and a detail of the door frame. The first picture, I’ve been informed, is a carving depicting a knighting ceremony.

abbey santa croce column capitals picture

abbey santa croce door frame picture

While we visited, we found out that another part of the abbey was planned to be built into a spa.

Sassoferrato Visitor Information

Sassoferrato Visitors Guide

Finding the Hidden Italy in Sassoferrato

Where from here? The Frasassi Caves are nearby.

Check out Hotels in or near Sassaferrato

Looking for more tips for a trouble-free experience on your Italy Vacation? Download the mobile app for iPad or iPhone: Italy Travel Tips & Hints - Sutro Media | Android

Abbey of Santa Croce in Sassoferrato originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com Sep 23, 2011, © James Martin.

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