Genazzano is a village of 18th century, just 40 km from Rome and is built on a narrow spur of volcanic tuff. Known already in ancient Rome when it was a holiday destination for the Gens Genucia, Antonina and Iulia, it became a historical fief of the Colonna family, which from the Baronial Palace, commonly called "Castello Colonna" controlled the way to Naples and Rome. He gave birth to Pope Martin V Oddone) Colonna and to Giovanni Bracalone de Carlonibus called Brancaleone, one of the knights of Barletta's challenge.
“Sull'estesa collina rocciosa che domina questo paesaggio si trova Genazzano in una stretta striscia, nera e grigia di aspetto come le rocce di tufo sulle quali è situata. Le case sembrano dirigersi in processione verso la chiesa di Buon Consiglio, il più grande santuario della campagna laziale e verso il castello baronale dei Colonna che occupa la sommità.”
Ferdinand Gregorovius - Passeggiate romane
To the north, on a tufaceous hill, the Colonna’s Castle dominates Genazzano. As its name witness, its history is linked to the Colonna family, which over the course of time, from generation to generation, thanks to expansions, modifications and embellishment, has transformed the castle from a simple defensive fortress into a master residence of great artistic and architectural importance. The first document dates back to 1022, while only around 1200 work is started to use the structure as a defensive outpost. The fortress is in fact located to the north and has two towers to better defend the site from possible enemy attacks. Important transformations took place with Oddone Colonna, born in Genazzano at the end of 1300 and then became Pope in 1417 with the name of Martino V, who had the west part of the castle restored to be used as his residence. Under the pontificate of the Genovese Pope, which sanctioned the end of the Western Schism by reestablishing the papal seat in Rome, the village goes through its most flourishing period with important urban transformations and the castle abandons its origins of military fortress to finally become luxurious stately residence. The marble frames of the windows, the fireplaces and the marble seats of the halls of representation are opposed to the travertine elements of the eastern side of the castle, so-called "Borgiana wing" (between 1500 and 1503 the castle was owned by the Borgia family who contributed to fortification works in the eastern part). In 1943, a bombing of a squadron of the RAF, to destroy the furnaces set up inside the castle by the German army that supplied Cassino, caused considerable collapses on the north side. Immediately after the Second World War, the Civil Engineering Department, completely demolishing the old bridge and rebuilding it with a single reinforced concrete span, made its first construction replacement. After 40 years of abandonment, in 1979, the Castle was bought by the Province of Rome and transferred to the Municipality of Genazzano which started the first renovation works, completed with a major intervention in the context of the work for the 2000 Jubilee.
Today the Castle returns to dominate in all its majesty with its original colors and its remarkable architecture.
With an area of 3000 square meters divided into more than 20 rooms have been hosted prestigious art exhibitions. Inside, in fact, there is an important and prestigious museum of modern and contemporary art known as CIAC, International Centre of Contemporary Art, one of the most active and qualified in the province of Rome and the entire region.
Church of San Giovanni
The small church is located in the square below the Colonna’s Castle.
The presbytery of the church preserves, walled in the wall, a stoup with overlapping housing of the holy oils carved in low relief, both in 15th century marble and a late Gothic marble column.
To the right of the entrance is a marble baptismal font covered by a fifteenth-century wooden dome with an octogonal base and a lantern.
The church, dedicated to the patron saint Nicola di Bari, is one of the most beautiful and ancient of Genazzano Located in front of the Castle, it was part of the Castelluccio, of which it was the official church. Pope Martino V, born in Genazzano and probably baptized in this church, was particularly attached to this. Thanks to his work, he was elevated to the Collegiate with privileges, relics and income, and was expanded into late Gothic forms, found in the capitals of the apse and in the side portal, and embellished with the creation of the polychrome wooden ceiling and the spectacular Cosmatique paving in the which can be traced fragments of ancient tombstones and medieval tombs. Among the tombstones stands out that of a princess gota, Flavia Amalafrida Theodinanda, relegated to exile in a villa of Genazzano and that of the family of the hero of Barletta, Giovanni Brancaleone. The two central columns frame a kiosk containing the painting of St. Nicholas with the Virgin and Child by the Genovese painter Carlo Ascenzi. . The organ, located on the cantoria above the main portal, by the famous family of organists of the Catarinozzi family, and the wooden choir in the apse date back to the mid-eighteenth century. After about 30 years of closure and subsequent restoration phases, the Church restored to its original splendor was reopened in 2013
In the Aragonese style Gothic building, the tradition wanted to recognize the birthplace of Pope Martin V, but most likely it was the home of a noble courtier, who gave the unquestionable elegance of the precious mullioned windows in tufted windows with rich twisted columns, of carvings in the rose window, and the lowered arch portal, frames with dentils, leaves and friezes. Once owned by the Apolloni family, the so-called "Uditorato" building was the seat of the Baron's Court. In 1910 the Palace was purchased by Cardinal Vincenzo Vannutelli who commissioned the restoration of the architect Giovenale, who founded his principle of restoration on the reconstruction of the building through the reproduction of original elements. Valuable examples of mullioned windows can be found in other buildings overlooking the main street of the town, including the most important just opposite Palazzo Apolloni.
Sanctuary of Madonna of Good Counsel
The original church of Santa Maria dates back to the end of the 10th century. It was then transformed into a cemetery, which is today below the current paving of the sanctuary. In 1356 Pietro IV di Giordano Colonna entrusted the parish to the Hermit religious of Sant'Agostino. The apparition of the miraculous image of Mary, venerated with the title of Good Counsel, marked a fundamental moment for the history of the church: tradition has it that the image detached itself from a church in Scutari in Albania, when the Muslims, and reached the church of Genazzano accompanied by a host of angels during the vespers of April 25, 1467. The sacred image went to rest on a wall of the church that at that time the Blessed Petruccia, widow and Augustinian tertiary lived in the second half of the fifteenth century, he had begun to build a thousand difficulties and that was soon concluded thanks to the alms of the pilgrims. From that moment the small church became a sanctuary. The prodigious appearance is remembered in the tympanum of the portal of the church where there is a bas-relief with the painting of the Madonna brought by angels, above the clouds. Inside the church are kept several works including a marble balustrade attributed to Bernini: some putti, above the clouds, hold a heavy curtain and look upwards. The great liturgical organ built in 1930 dominates behind the altar. Given the enormous curiosity aroused by the appearance of the Holy Image, several artists wanted to contribute to making the place where the Virgin appeared solemn. On the ground floor we find the Museum, which houses a remarkable statue of Saint John the Baptist by Andrea Bregno, and paintings by various authors, as well as the frescoes detached from the choir's choir at the beginning of 1900 to make room for the magnificent organ
Church of St. Paul the Apostle
The church stands on Piazza G. E. D'Amico and is likely to have been erected in the thirteenth century. Certain news exist only since 1277 in the Conventiones. The building underwent a renovation in the eighteenth century that, while sparing the bell tower, has altered the appearance of the original Romanesque complex. Among the works in the church we should mention: a marble shrine from 1512, a baptismal font from the 16th century; the altarpiece of the high altar with Maria, San Pietro and San Paolo; the saints of the church represented in marble busts of the fourteenth century, placed on the façade, in two other busts of the thirteenth century placed under the aedicula of 1512, and again from two other places on the triumphal arch. Peculiarities of the church are the sober decoration, although rich in marble and multicolored, and the triumphal arch that echoes, the Bramante Ninfeo, part of the Colonnese garden outside the walls of Porta Romana
Church of Santa Croce
The church of Santa Croce is located inside the walls, immediately to the right of "Porta Romana" at the top of a steep staircase. The period of its foundation is not known, but it is considered to be among the properties of the Benedictines of Subiaco. The church became the chapel of the new hospital built shortly after the middle of the fifteenth century by Antonio Colonna, preserving precious frescoes that can be traced back to three different pictorial cycles. There is no longer any trace of the original pavement, while inside is preserved a stoup obtained from a capital of bare. It is currently closed to worship and is used as a Memorial to the Fallen, with an underground ossuary in the center of the nave.
The Gate is called "Roman" as the main entrance to the village coming from Rome. It is the first access to the town from below and is surmounted by the emblem of Genazzano in red terracotta.
It dates back to medieval times and is protected by a large polygonal tower. Near the Porta, near the beautiful fountain, the remains of the secondary entrance of the ancient Porta Portella are still visible.
Among the most fascinating monuments of Genazzano there is the "Ninfeo". At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Colonna family conceived the idea of creating a garden in the Soglia valley. In the garden there was a lake and a Nymphaeum. The appearance of the building recalls the typology of some ancient thermal environments, such as the Baths of Diocletian, and also the outline of what remained of the Basilica of Maxentius, so much so that between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was forming the idea that it was an ancient thermal building ("Bagni di Antonino Pio"). Only at the end of the nineteenth century was Giuseppe Tomassetti recognized as a Renaissance work. Giovannoni, in the twentieth century, judged it to be a work by the Bramante school. More recently, Frommel and Bruschi have firmly attributed the design to Bramante.
The Infiorata is the most important manifestation and felt by the entire population and is held on the first Sunday of July, on the occasion of the celebration of the Sacred Heart. The suggestive tradition of the carpet of flowers to welcome the beautiful Procession dates back to 1883. The 2012 edition of the Infiorata won the world record of "The largest flower petal carpet" (the world's largest Infiorata) certified by Guinness World Records London (1642.57 square meters).
The Palio Di Brancaleone
Genazzano is the place of Giovanni de Carlonibus called Brancaleone, a knight who took part in the "Disfida di Barletta" of 1503 together with Ettore Fieramosca. In the last week of May, Genazzano remembers its illustrious fellow citizen with the event "the Palio di Brancaleone" with games and parades in costume and numerous occasions of agri-food interest. Among the most important events the oath of the Knights in the church, an "assault" at the Castle and finally the re-enactment of the victorious duel between Italians and French.
(The emblem of Genazzano owes its design to the "Disfida di Barletta", which occurred in 1503, which saw in opposition 13 Italian knights, who were winners, and 13 French knights. The participation of the Genazzanese rider Giovanni Brancaleone, gave reason to the municipal administration, in the second half of the nineteenth century, to represent the city emblem by inserting thirteen white and thirteen blue triangles, one for knight. Moreover, in Genazzano, every year to celebrate this victory of Brancaleone, the aforementioned Disfida is staged.)
During the whole year the Colonna’s Castle hosts musical stages, in particular those perfecting classical guitar, violin, piano, ensemble music and concerts by young musicians, photographic and handicraft exhibitions, gastronomic events.
Among the summer events, the third week of July, "La Musica che Unisce" and the Sete Sois Sete Luas Festival, presents contemporary folk music artists from different countries of the Euro-Mediterranean area. To mention the concerts of the Popular Color Orchestra composed of 50 elements.
The second week of July the Ninfeo Live takes place in the park area in front of the bramante nymphaeum. Youth groups alternate with photographic exhibitions, theatrical events and food stands.
On 10 August - or the weekend closest to "San Lorenzo" - "Calici di stelle" takes place, with food and wine tastings, music and shows. An opportunity to enjoy the spectacle of shooting stars in friendly company!
In September there will be the Festa del Madonna del Buon Consiglio (September 8th), a week of religious and musical events, cabaret shows and film screenings.
While in the second half of the month the streets and squares of the historic center are animated by the "Open Cellars" with tastings of wines and typical local dishes and traveling music groups.
During the year, concerts of the Banda Musicale Comunale, the Popular Color Orchestra and the "Padre Belli" Schola Cantorum take place in various places of art. Two amateur theatrical groups present at the Cinema Italia shows during the winter season.