Acquapendente is a town in the province of Viterbo, in the northern territories of the Lazio region, near the border with the regions of Tuscany and Umbria.
The city of Acquapendente is located in a strategic position, just a few minutes away from Lake Bolsena and the Monte Rufeno Nature Reserve.
The city is famous not only for its typically medieval and Renaissance beauty, but also for its events, especially the traditional Pugnaloni. According to legend, this festival dates back to 1166 to celebrate a miraculous event, it is said that two farmers saw a dry cherry blossom, the two contatini interpreted this miracle as a sign of good luck and after having told the event to the rest of the citizens , they led Acquapendente to revolt against the sovereign Federico Barbarossa, destroying the castle and obtaining freedom. The event is celebrated every third Sunday of May and was celebrated continuously in Acquapendente until 1929, to be interrupted during the war, and resumed in 1958. But what are the Pugnaoloni? The Pugnaoloni are mosaics created with flowers and leaves, made on large wooden panels.
What to see in Acquapendente
Cathedral of the Holy Sepulcher: Romanesque-style basilica belonging to the Benedictine order. The church is dedicated to the holy sepulcher, because, according to legend, it would keep a stone, stained with blood, coming from the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, the stone would be kept in a crypt of the church.
Church of San Francesco: The church was built in the period prior to the birth of San Francesco and dedicated to him at a later time, originally the church was dedicated to Santa Maria. The consecration of the church to San Francesco took place in 1253, when the sacred building was entrusted to the friars of the Franciscan order. The church is flanked by a bell tower built in 1506. The current appearance of the church is due to the numerous remodeling works, originally it was in fact built in the Gothic style, only to be transformed into a building of clear Baroque style.
Church of Sant’Agostino: The church of Sant’Agostino is an ancient, medieval building, dating back to 1290, the baroque lines of architecture were added in the eighteenth century. The original medieval walls of the church are still visible today. The church is flanked by a convent, erected in 1500, the building also played the role of an elementary school.
Torre Julia de’Jacopo: The Tower of Julia de’Jacopo takes its name from that of a young local girl who, as legend has it, was able, thanks to her courage to block the entrance of enemy soldiers in Acquapendente, the January 18, 1550. The tower rises in a strategic position in the city, and is the seat of the Visitor Center of the Monte Rufeno Nature Reserve. Inside the tower there is a floor entirely dedicated to the display of medieval ceramic finds.
Palazzo Vescovile: The palace was built when the city of Acquapendente became a bishopric. The building has medieval origins, but its current appearance is due to the restoration works carried out between the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries. Today the building houses the Diocesan Civic Museum, on one floor of the building, the other areas are occupied by the Episcopal Apartment, the Curia Archives and the Ex Seminary Library. The ground floor was occupied by the prisons.
Viscontini Palace: The Viscontini Palace was built in 1581 at the behest of Mons. Antonio Viscontini in Hippolito Scalza of Orvieto. Above the door stands the coat of arms of the Viscontini family. Inside the building there is a large courtyard, with a garden, where there is an amphitheater named after Girolamo Fabrizio.
City Museum: The City Museum of Acquapendente is housed in the Bishop’s Palace, built after 1649. The museum houses a diocesan collection, consisting of collections of paintings with a religious theme, in this section there is a marble bust of Innocent X , a collection of sacred clothes dating back to a period between 1600 and 1900. Among the most important sacred paintings we certainly remember the Lunette with Dead Christ among the Angels by Girolamo di Benvenuto, and the Madonna with Child and San Giovannino. The muzzle also houses a civic collection, which consists of a collection of ceramic objects, dating back to the Middle Ages and subsequent periods, up to the early 1900s.
From April to September (From Friday to Sunday): 10: 00-13: 00 / 15:30 – 19:00
From October to March (Friday to Sunday): 10: 00-13: 00 / 15:00 – 18:30
Il Giorno dei Pugnaloni: open all day from 10:00 to 14:00
History of Acquapendente
In Etruscan times there was a village in the area where the city stands today, but this village was destroyed by the Lombards.
Another village was founded between the 9th and 10th centuries, near the Via Francigena, the young town hosted the Emperor Otto I, later the city was ceded to the Church by Countess Matilde di Canossa, the city then became part of of the diocese of Orvieto, Acquapendente never accepted submission and long struggles began between the two cities
Legend has it that “The Miracle of the Madonna del Fiore” took place in Acquapendente in 1166, during which the population of the city would have had the strength to rebel against the dominion of Barbarossa.
In the meantime the struggles with Orvieto continued, only after 1400 the city had its own autonomy, starting from 1550, while losing part of its freedoms, the city experienced a period of great growth, with the construction of noble palaces, such as for example the Bishop’s Palace and the Viscontini Palace.