St Peter’s Church, Tuscania, Viterbo

The Romanesque Basilica of St. Peter, founded in the 11th Century in Tuscania, near Viterbo, is located on the mountain where the ancient Etruscan city stood.

The embroidered pattern consisting of concentric circles is inspired by the rose of the facade of the Church of St Peter, a Romanesque Church in Tuscania, in the province of Viterbo. The three-level circular decoration, which symbolises the Holy Trinity, culminates in the centre with the elegant form of a flower with twelve petals and is outlined, at the corners, by the allegorical figures of the four evangelists.

The collection

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Basílica de San Pedro, Tuscania

In its isolated position on the slopes of San Pietro, in the area in which the heart of Tuscania was founded, before its gradual movement to the mountain, stands the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Together with the basilica of San Pietro, it represents a holy monument of exceptional value, as a complete example of Romanesque architecture. The decorations of the facade, for example, show a variety of derivations and manifold interventions that make it splendidly disordered and asymmetrical.

Basilica of San Pietro, Tuscany

The hill of San Pietro, on which the spectacular Romanesque basilica of Tuscany stands, was for centuries the strategic heart of the city and has a very ancient history: the first settlements date back to the Bronze Age, during the Etruscan period it was the site of the ancient acropolis, the political and religious hub of the region, and in the Middle Ages it became an important bishopric centre which gave the church of St. Pietro the title of Cathedral.

Basilica di San Pietro

Thanks to its spectacular setting, in addition to being a place of worship and art, the basilica of St. Pietro in Tuscania has also been the location of some important Italian and international film productions. In 1966, for example, film director Mario Monicelli chose the church for a scene of the famous film L’armata Brancaleone and two years later Franco Zeffirelli set the secret marriage of Romeo and Juliet here.

The art work

The Romanesque Basilica, which is the cathedral of Tuscania and the centre of a large diocese throughout the Second Middle Ages, was built around the 11th century on the hill of Saint Peter, the site of an ancient Etruscan acropolis. Its magnificent facade dates back to the 13th century and is decorated with allegories and symbols, with a sculpture in its centre that combines the tradition of Umbrian stonemasons with the Cosmati art of Roman marble artists.

The large rose window, which looks like embroidery on a 12-petal rose, comprises 3 concentric tiers that represent the Trinity, each made up of flowers, columns and small circles. In the corners of the square frame surrounding the rose window, there are four sculptures representing the symbols of evangelists, while there are relief-work winged dragons to the sides, coming out of the facade, ready to capture prey. Next to them, around the two windows, the opposing scenes of Good and Evil appear: monsters and three-faced demons celebrate the Kingdom of Evil on the right, while on the left, we find the Agnus Dei, flanked by archangels and prophets, who stands out in the Kingdom of Good.

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