Altilia: Background

Altilia is one of the oldest towns in the Savuto valley, rich in history, art and traditions.

According to some, it seems that it was once called Stralonga or Stralunga. For others it took its name from its location, for still others it was repopulated by Giovan Corrado and Altilio dell’Alimena, coming from a land called Alimena, near Mendicino, destroyed by the Saracens.

According to Padula, finally, its name "Altilia" could derive both from the Greek "Atèlia" (the sieve circle) so going to Altilia would mean “going to the screening” that is to the place where the screens were manufactured (the so-called "crivi") and both from the word "Atèleia" (immunity from taxes) for some privilege the country had in the past.

Anyway, Altilia had very ancient origins. Andreotti himself who in the "History of the Cosentini" places the origins of the Casali in the context of the Saracen raids between the 975 and the 986, writes : “Another territory that was not founded, but repopulated by people from Cosenza in 976 is Altilia, on the Savuto ". Tommaso Aceti, Cosentino academic and beneficiary of the Vatican Basilica, in the notes affixed to the “De Antiquitate” of the Barrio he claims: “Numerous archaeological testimonies unequivocally prove that some towns have an older origin than Cosenza. Just think of the terracotta finds from the Hellenistic period in the territories of Altilia and Grimaldi and the silver coins (sec. VI-V A.C.) found near S. Stefano di Rogliano ".

From the year one thousand onwards, the town was linked to the vicissitudes of the Casali di Cosenza. In 1638 it was almost razed to the ground by the earthquake that affected the Savuto Valley in the Nocera-Martirano-Motta S.Lucia-Rogliano-Cosenza line. Between the capital and the hamlet of Maione there were 132 dead and 235 destroyed houses.

The people of Altilia made a strong contribution to the Unification of Italy. In 1811 it was Vincenzo Federici, called Capobianco, to found on site the first sale of the Calabrese Carbonari for which numerous exponents of Cosenza culture and bourgeoisie began to rotate around the town.

Numerous attempts at insurrection left from Altilia, so much so that the Bourbons, to annihilate Federici, they decided to attack him in his fortress. Andreotti writes about it : "A squadron of mounted hunters attacked the village - a battalion of the light fourth - two companies of the choice and two companies of Corsi. Bloccossi Altilia and the Capobianco asked to parley. He promises to introduce himself to Manhés, evades force, is placed in safety and the colonel, saw himself betrayed, order the sack and fire from the municipality. The Capobianco who had a positive influence on the Carbonari of both Calabria, he died hanged in Cosenza at the age of 31 years".

Men of Altilia we also find in the uprisings of 1848, including Luigi Caruso, Francesco Federici and Gaspare Marsico. Other illustrious men were: Thomas of Altilia (sec. XVI-XVII) of the order of Minimum, Gabriele Marsico (1428-1501) teacher and secretary of King Ferdinand, who was elected in 1471 bishop of Policastro, Gaspare Marsico deputy and patriot, Bernardino Alessio theologian, Giambattista Caruso writer and journalist, Giuseppe Caruso economist, Tommaso Caruso poet, Giovanni Caserta of the Order of Minims, Vincenzo Marsico politician, Pietro Schettini reformer of Italian poetry.

The queen art of Altilia has always been that of the stonemasons, known and appreciated throughout the Calabria region. The portals and facades of the churches of Altilia testify to this, Malito (including the bell tower), Grimaldi, Carpanzano, Rogliano, S. Stefano, Cosenza (the dome).

Among the monuments that enrich the country we mention: the Church of S. Maria Assunta of the sixteenth century the Convent of 1500.

Other structure, from 1619, is the Marsico palace, now the municipal seat. Characteristic is the entrance portal surmounted by a balcony with balustrade shelves, work of local workers who used the famous stones of the quarries called "Parrere". In the hamlet of Maione, in addition to the beautiful church dedicated to S. Giovanni, you can admire the ancient portals of the Pagliuso and De Caro houses and Palazzo Amantea.


Altilia and its people. Historical notes and personalities of a municipality in the Savuto valley.


Gianfranco Ferrari

The Church of Santa Maria Assunta

The Parish Church dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta was built in the 1400s and underwent substantial renovations between the 1500s and 1700s; that of the seventeenth century was due to the interest of Leonardo Romano.

The main facade in local stone, late Romanesque style, with coats of arms, embossed ornaments, restorations and additions from the 17th and 18th centuries, represents in the schedules of the various local workers one of the most beautiful masterpieces of the Savuto Valley, so much so that Alfonso Frangipane wrote that "the parish Church of the Assumption and of San Sebastiano di Altilia is a kind of palimpsest and would deserve a particular study on its own; it has pieces of medieval facade; the quadrilateral bell tower partly from the Renaissance, always in tuff, is of local workers, which are superimposed on Baroque restorations up to the cusp ".

The portal, flanked by intertwining, it is surmounted by an ogival frame, also in tuff, with finely modeled decorations and friezes, inside which once there was a fresco, today replaced by a beaded mosaic, depicting the Assumption.

The bell tower is given by a quadrilateral tower; once very tall and seems to have served as a lookout tower.

The interior, entirely redone with baroque elements, it has three naves divided by pillars with symmetrical arches with a molded tuff base and frames harmoniously connected to the vault. The central nave, illuminated by large windows, artistically shaped, it is equipped with walnut choral stalls, carved into the frames and backbones, placed on the sides of the presbytery with two decorated throne seats. Also interesting on the altar are the choir benches in carved walnut. The main altar, in marble and wood, it is decorated with two lateral friezes which form particular vase-holder capitals at the ends.

It also stands out, on the central wall of the altar, the valuable shovel of Guglielmo Borremans, Flemish painter, painted in oil on canvas and depicting the Madonna Assunta in heaven, completed in the center of the apse, from a fresco, work of southern artists of the eighteenth century, depicting the Holy Trinity in the act of crowning the Virgin of the Assumption.

The major arch, with an excellently modeled stone base, culminates with two relief angels holding plaster festoons. The two aisles follow the style of the central one; along the left wall there are four plaster altars decorated in sober Baroque, on the second of which, dedicated to San Sebastiano, there is a tower indicating the tower or the castle of Altilia; that of the front wall, dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, it was surmounted by a valuable canvas depicting Christ on the Cross with souls in purgatory at his feet, eighteenth-century oil painting (no longer present), work of an artist of the Neapolitan school. In the right aisle there are three altars of the same style, with the central one dedicated to the Madonna del Rosario. On each altar there were once oil paintings, unfortunately removed to make way for niches for devotional statues.

They belong to the ranks of the works of art of this Church: a wooden statue of the Immaculate Conception carved in full figure and conspicuously painted by artists of the Neapolitan school; the baptismal font whose embossed copper lid with archaic engraved decorations and patriarchal cross at the top is a true jewel of medieval metal art and has documentary value; the statue of San Sebastiano, probably of the fifteenth century and the eighteenth-century Crucifix.

Also noteworthy are the two shell-shaped black alabaster stoups attached to the two pillars of the central nave and the two confessionals in walnut wood with inlays, hard work, in lighter wood of the seventeenth century.

Under the floor of the church, once the dead were buried as it was used as a burial place for the faithful. This can be seen from the fact that some slabs of the floor have holes that were used to facilitate their lifting and thus be able to bury the dead.. In the last restoration of the Church, most of the bones were collected in special boxes and brought to the current cemetery; others, on the other hand, are still preserved today under the floor and can be glimpsed by lifting some slabs.


Altilia and its people. Historical notes and personalities of a municipality in the Savuto valley.


Gianfranco Ferrari

The Roman bridge over the Savuto River

Along the way to the sea of ​​the Savuto river, we find, in the territories of Altilia and Scigliano, a Roman bridge (II century a: C.) said of S. Angelo or Hannibal, a national historical monument which together with the Fabbrico bridge on the Tiber island (69 a. C.) they are the oldest in Italy.

He teacher. Emilio Barillaro wrote: […] ”The bridge was thrown by the Romans to serve the Via Popilia in 203 A.C.; destroyed by the builders themselves at the time of Hannibal's defeat to stop the latter's escape and prevent him from reaching the sea and then rebuilt with the same building material and with the same architectural module as the engineers of the Carthaginian general for the transit of his army. "

The Padula in "Calabria before and after the unity" he wrote:"That bridge can be said to be the only architectural monument in the province. It is a single colossal arch of a hundred palms of light that starts from the ground and does not rest on the pillars. You go up there by a staggered path that leaves a void between you and the arch of the bridge where the shepherds are sheltered. As you go up, a burst of rice often comes to your ear; and they are forensic and forosette laughing under your feet. The bridge is by piperno (effusive igneous rock, n.d.r.) and the author is ignored. The common people believe it to be the work of the devil and believe they see the imprint of his hand on some stones and go to look for treasures. ".

The archaeologist Edoardo Galli said: […] “Watching, then, the sides it is clear the intention of the builders to artificially narrow, reduce the valley as much as possible, to overwhelm it with just one, very bold, arco. This is roughly, alto 13 meters and twice as wide, but in ancient times it had to hover at a dizzying height, as it is known that among the rivers of Calabria the Savuto is one of the best known and feared for floods and devastation. So there is no doubt that in more than two thousand years the river has filled a good half of the original height. In fact, the pillars on which the vault rests are not seen because they are buried in the gravel and as can be seen today, the river flows at the level of the bowstring ".

The bridge was part of the ancient Roman road, the Popilia, which was built starting from Reggio Calabria and then joining with the other arteries leading to Rome. The ancient route of the road from Reggio Calabria ran along the Tyrrhenian Sea, touched Vibo Valentia, the Plain of S Eufemia, it went up the Savuto Valley, he crossed the bridge over the river and went up to the Campi di Malito. It then continued along the narrow corridor of the Iassa stream, it flowed into the Busento at the height of the old district of Portapiana. Later, following the bank of the Crati up to Tarsia, then Morano, the Vallo di Diano and Salerno coupon, Nocera and Capua, it joined the Via Appia which led to Rome.

The Roman bridge, whose construction date dates back to the 2nd century BC., it was built with red limestone tuff arches taken from a quarry on the wall of a hill close to the bridge. Even today you can see the deep cuts on the wall, operated by slaves in the service of the Roman army. These blocks were thrown downstream and fell right where the bridge stands today. These boulders came, then, processed and placed or used to make lime in the adjacent kiln, also found in the past. The foundations of the bridge are located at a depth of approx 1,50 m from the current level of the river bed. They consist of an audience of two orders of squared and superimposed blocks for a width of 5 m and a length equal to that of the bridge including the ascent ramp of the lowest end. The height of this audience is about 1,50 m. The vault consists of two concentric round arches of squared blocks of staggered dry tuff. The second arch is in tuff for the perspective parts and in stones and pozzolana inside, to cover the first supporting arch. It should be noted that in Rome the first example of a double concentric arch construction occurred at the mouth of the Cloaca Massima built in 580 a.C.

The supporting arch is set directly on the foundation slab, without supporting piles, and the second arch has only the function of reinforcement and counterweight to the first. The length of the arc is 21,50 m while the width is 3,55 m. The maximum height is 11 m compared to the current level of the river.

The Romans by virtue of the importance of the bridge, they built it to withstand time and bad weather, including the floods of the Savuto.

They built it dry, they already knew then that different materials did not give the certainty of lasting, due to the different expansion of the individual materials. The blocks of tuff on the contrary after over two thousand years have been sutured with the limestone dissolved by the same stones, enough to form a single block.

The decking, whose total length is 48 m, it was built in masonry with river stones and pozzolana stone. On one side we find a typical Roman ramp that rests on the rock of the hill. On the other side it rests on a transverse arch closed by walls with a thickness of 50 cm. Next to the bridge, in its extremes, there are the remains of two sentry boxes, used to repair the troops protecting the bridge, remains irremediably compromised. Close to the bridge, instead, an old farmhouse was built on the foundations of Roman buildings, ruin it too and partly home to the church of S. Angelo.

The ancient popular tradition gave this bridge the name of Hannibal the Carthaginian, but studies, conducted by the southern historian Eduardo Galli in 1806, they seem to deny these beliefs. The scholar, indeed, states that: “The finds, nearby, of roof tiles, of vases, of imperial coins, they generated in the simple souls of the villagers the false belief that Hannibal, before leaving Italy, he lived there for a long time, even building the bridge and which therefore bears his name ".

To disprove this thesis is, also, the purely Roman style, the analysis of milestones on Via Popilia, and the date of construction of the said Via Popilia, between 131 and the 121 a.C., that is, eighty years after the passage of the general.

According to another legend, this bridge is also known as the S bridge. Angelo, precisely due to the presence of a church dedicated to this saint: it is said that he defeated the devil right on the bridge and the latter out of anger kicked the right shoulder of the bridge and caused an injury. This lesion is not visible today, since it was stitched up during the restoration which took place in 1961.



The Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie

The Convent of Altilia dates back to the 1500s. It was built by Domenico Agacio and Gerolamo Curaro for the Franciscan order of conventual minors, as shown in the document of 1752 reported by Francesco Russo, and from the reading of an epigraph recovered and affixed to the south wall of the apse of the Church, engraved on local limestone, where it reads:

RECORD blacksmith and AGATIO





Fathers made no great effort

One of established BODIES

1575 Fail and resented

We believe in heaven TOGETHER


Giacomo Antonio Deperna, tertiary of the same Convent he dedicated, on a date not mentioned, to Gerolamo Ferraro and Agazio Manziano, presbyters, that together, like no other, headed for 19 years this seat of the Divine Franciscan Order that, not without great effort, united with the local community, founded in April of 1533. Their bodies have been lying in the Church since 1575 and the author is certain that their souls have ascended together to heaven.

It is likely that the school of stonecutters arose in this convent by the monks who contributed to the evolution of their art and the improvement of culture and society.

The Convent is located on a cliff overlooking the Savuto Valley. Of the Convent today only the perimeter walls remain, in any case, a rather precise idea of ​​its extension, while the Church, with a single nave, it has been completely recovered thanks to restoration interventions.

Access to the Convent is a long corridor carved into the stone on the left side of the Church; the portal has a round arch, multi-level grooved and surmounted by a frame with rich entablature.

The ruins of the Convent are covered by the defections of the hill overlooking the area, but some perimeter walls of the east side remain clearly visible. The Church is located in a dominant position with respect to the residential settlement. With Palazzo Marsico, now municipal seat, constitutes, in the small town of Altilia, an important historical reference to be safeguarded.

The presbytery is quadrangular in shape with a higher floor than the floor of the hall. It is connected to a small sacristy and through the aforementioned corridor connects to the Convent. It borders the single nave with 2 ribs from which they were removed, in the past, the limestone ashlars, shaped and sculpted, of the sacred arch. The moldings of the ashlars are typical of Franciscan art and represent the most important and expressive testimony for the critical reading of the monument.

His recovery having been possible, the first operation was to put the entire structure of the arch back in place, that once completed, gave the most precise idea of ​​the original height of the church roof, probably not on a single level.

Furthermore, from some old photos, it was possible to ascertain that the roof was two-pitched supported by wooden trusses and certainly covered the entire nave up to the sacred arch; on the other hand, the hypothesis of a lower roof level on the presbytery environment was uncertain. Today, the roof has been completely redone with a wooden truss that blends harmoniously with the old structure. For making it possible to renovate the roof, it was first necessary to complete the wall perimeter crowned by a reinforced concrete curb on which the wooden Palladian trusses supporting the roof structure were placed and tied, waterproofed and covered with brick tiles.

The missing parts of masonry have been reconstructed with a brick "opus" that blends well with the color of the stone and with the discontinuities of the existing walls that have collapsed. The reinforced concrete curb was built slightly back from the edge of the external perimeter so as to allow it to be clad with the same brick. The work was carried out completely face-to-face so that the reading of the materials is immediate.

The entrance portal is not the original one: according to the traces visible from the inside, the arch was lowered and larger. The current round arched portal probably dates back to the end of 1700 given its similarity with other churches in neighboring countries. Typical is the rosette carved on the bases of the piers that we recognize as an expression of the hand of local stonemasons who probably made a similar portal in the Church of Belsito dedicated to San Giovanni Battista.

The original window on the facade, it was in the highest area of ​​the eardrum. Inspired by the rosettes of the piers, given the non-originality of the facade, the architects thought it appropriate to design a window that would fit the portal, appropriately sized and large enough to give natural light to the vast environment of the classroom.

The other windows already present, they have been closed with a fixed frame in wood and transparent glass. As for the roofing of the presbytery and sacristy areas, were built with trusses.

During the restoration works, the tombs of the two builders of the monument came to light.

The tombs are located at the foot of the apse: one on one side and one on the other. They can be identified at the entrance and in the apse area, below the floor surface, two other tombs.

Along the single nave, there are three glass portholes on the floor, from which you can see some cells used as mass graves. The five tombs in the structure are all covered with a thick sheet of glass. The flooring was made with San Lucido stone and embellished with a Greek stone, in bricks of a darker color, that runs through the entire perimeter of the classroom.


Altilia and its people. Historical notes and personalities of a municipality in the Savuto valley.


Gianfranco Ferrari

The Caves of San Francesco

From the fortuitous discovery that took place behind the Church of S.. Maria delle Grazie and immediately downstream of the convent, which currently houses the municipal seat, the vault of a small cave frescoed with images of Christ came to light, of the Virgin, of San Sebastiano and San Francesco di Paola, some well preserved and therefore clearly legible, others unclear.

The Minims are the religious belonging to the Franciscan Order founded in 1435 from San Francesco di Paola, that, after a first archiepiscopal approval (Cosenza 1471) and pontifical (Sixtus IV, 1474), it was definitively recognized by Alexander VI in 1492. On that occasion he changed the original name of hermits of St. Francis of Assisi to that of "friars minima" with his rule, definitively approved in 1506 by Julius II.

St. Francis of Paola, then, he founded a new religious Order that would re-propose:

ー the contemplative ideal of monasticism but combining with it an active spirit of apostolate;

ー the rigorous observance of Franciscan poverty;

ー the practice of a very severe asceticism.

The order, which is divided into :

ー religious;

ー nuns (second order founded in spain in 1495);

ー tertiary, male and female

headed by a Corrector General, which lasts in office 6 years. The tertiaries, unlike the religious, they are not required to observe the evangelical counsels as their commitments do not have the value of vows, but of simple promise. The third order, as constituted by St. Francis, it is an association of secular faithful of both sexes, belonging to every state and every social condition.

In Altilia, the congregation of the tertiaries had the zealous direction of the priest Angelo Serra as superintendent. In the Calabrian Process, among other witnesses, there is a certain Sister Perna, corrector in Altilia of sixteen tertiary women of San Francesco di Paola, who testified that an ancient sister of that congregation, named Giovanna Caserta, she had been harassed for several years by malignant obsession and made free by the Servant of God. Giovanna Caserta was favored by many gifts and among these that of knowing the day of her death that she herself foretold seven weeks before it happened..

I minimi, after a period of great expansion, (at the end of the 1500s they were more than 14.000), decayed from the mid-18th century.



Marsico Palace

Palazzo Marsico is currently the seat of the municipality of Altilia. On the façade there are two stone coats of arms with the family insignia: one carved on the left side of the portal and the other opposite on the balcony that surmounts the entrance portal.

The weapon placed to the left of the portal is illegible, even if from a careful examination it seems that it shows the shape of a bird.

The shield is a variant of the one called "modern gothic" and is surmounted by a crown. Between the head of the shield and the crown, a deteriorated and therefore illegible inscription can be seen.

Of the three coats of arms placed on the portal, this is the only one defaced, as if someone in the past had been relentless on the same; it must be remembered that in the 1813, the house of the Marsico family, it was laid siege by French troops who had the task of capturing Vincenzo Federico (Altilia 1772 – Cosenza 1813), called Capobianco, head of the Carboneria in Calabria, that he had taken refuge in it together with his loyalists and that through a secret passage he managed to escape capture. The French, for retaliation, they put the town of Altilia to fire and sword.

The coat of arms located on the magnificent stone balcony that surmounts the entrance, shows the same effigy of the one that was carved on the left side of the portal and it is likely that this was later opposed to the deterioration of the other, as demonstrated also by the style and small size of this stone sign that is "lost" in the highest part of the building, that, however, protects and keeps the family crest. The shield is called "crumpled" and is surmounted by a crown.


Altilia and its people. Historical notes and personalities of a municipality in the Savuto Valley.

Gianfranco Ferrari


Lords of Altilia, Barons of Campitelli, Lattarico, Regina, Contessa and San Benedetto Ullano, the Marsicos have been present in Altilia since the 15th century. From this period we remember Gabriele Marsico, better known as Gabriele Altilio, its humanistic name; era, indeed, it is customary among Humanists to assume the name of the place of origin in place of the surname.

Gabriele Altilio (Marsico) was born around the 1440 in Cagiano, near Salerno, by Pietro Francesco. In Naples he is teacher and secretary of Prince Ferdinando (then Re in 1495) from which the family will receive many privileges. He is the author of elegant poems in Latin, including an epithalamium for the wedding of Isabella of Aragon with Gian Galeazzo Sforza in 1489.

In 1493 he was appointed Bishop of Policastro where he died in 1501. The nephew Pietro Francesco, aide-de-camp to Ferdinand of Aragon, he is invested by them with the fief of Altilia in 1495.

At the end of the 16th century Prospero Marsico di Altilia was a notary in Cosenza.

In the 16th century the family had the right of emphyteusis also on territories located between Altilia and Motta Santa Lucia.

Of course, before the XVIII century the Marsico family had it built, as an ex voto, in Altilia a convent dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, whose ruins are still visible today.

Between the end of the eighteenth century and throughout the nineteenth century, the Marsicos become prominent protagonists of the Calabrian latifundium, further consolidating the power acquired in the territories of the Savuto Valley.

The Marsicos are part of those Casalesi families that span two centuries, ‘700 e ‘800, they instill new energy and impetus to Cosenza feudality; in this regard Mario Pellicano Castagna defines the Marsico “a living and dynamic force”, which find their origins in the Casale di Altilia, from where they leave for their most important feudal adventure.

The architect of this family development is Antonio, presumably born in Altilia in 1 707~, who, buying from the Princess of Tarsia, Maria Antonia Spinelli, the land of Regina with the Casale di San Benedetto, the Contessa feud, in 1771 and that of Lattarico, in 1773, all with second and third civil and mixed causes, mint and portulania, he also becomes Baron.

From this moment a part of the Marsico family moved to Lattarico, but still maintaining economic and parental ties with Altilia for many decades.

Antonio Marsico dies on 15 May 1774 in Altilia in his palace9 and is buried in the Convent of San Francesco d’Assisi in the same place; happens to him, as Baron of Lattarico, Regina, Contessa and San Benedetto, the eldest son Francesco, presumably born in Altilia in 740.

Leading character of the Marsico di Lattarico, marries Maddalena Caputo, daughter of Vincenzo dei Duchi di Torano and Arma Cavalcanti, and resides in Contrada San Nicola di Lattarico, while Francesco Greco di Grimaldi administers, from the 1790 al 1805, its assets in Altilia, Grimaldi and Motta Santa Lucia.

In 1787 uncle Giuseppe, former officer of Charles III of Bourbon, he appoints him as his universal heir, after leaving Serafina with her granddaughters, Rosa and Vittoria one thousand ducats each.

Already in 1781, Baron Francesco had received all his hereditary rights from his brother Giuseppe, in exchange for the sum of 300 annual ducats for its decent maintenance '.

Giuseppe Marsico, despite having reconfirmed the donation in 1784, the revocation, however, in 1814 due to the lowering of the prerogative, due to the crisis resulting from the subversion of feudalism. In fact after the 1806 Baron Francesco loses his feudal privileges and is oppressed by strong land taxes. Also in the 1809 Francesco Marsico and Igriazio Valentone are robbed and subsequently blackmailed by some brigands from Dipignano.

After decades of prosperity, difficult times arrive for the Marsicoes, that Baron Francesco finds himself facing in old age.

The abolition of feudality, the political crisis, the military government, the raids of the brigands and the reduction of the state property cause a sharp decrease in the income of Francesco Marsico, so much so that he is no longer able to fulfill the dotal promise, of 4.500 ducats each, made to the daughters Nicoletta, Anna Maria and Settimia got married, respectively, to Diego di Tarsia, Gaspare Andreotti, Antonio Tirelli and Giuseppe Cavalcanti.

This last, to be satisfied with the dotal promises, they take legal action by asking for the interest accrued in addition; to fulfill these obligations, Francesco Marsico sells some funds including Contessa.

in the meantime, his wife Maddalena Caputo, worried about the dwindling of family assets, it does yield in 1814 some funds, sites in Lattarico and San Benedetto, for its decent maintenance.

This further reduces the assets of Francesco Marsico who is therefore unable to maintain and improve the crops of his funds, just as it is no longer able to pay off the debts contracted with Monte Ciarletti in Naples.

His sons Vincenzo and Antonio come to his aid, But, half of the assets placed in the territories of Lattarico and Regina are donated.

From the 1828, and for many years to follow, most of these assets are sold to pay off the family's accumulated debts.

Baron Francesco Marsico died in Lattarico on 23 September 1830. The sons of Baron Francesco Marsico are: Antonio, Vincenzo and Giuseppe, the latter died in Lattarico in 1819, at only twenty-eight without leaving heirs.

Antonio, presumably born in Lattarico in 1782, he is the heir of the Barony of Lattarico, Regina etc.; in 1805 he married Cecilia Capecelatro of the Dukes of Morrone in Naples and they were born from their union: Ehsabetta, Angela, Francesca, Antonio, Rachele and Vincenzo.

Vincenzo is, instead, Intendant of Catanzaro, it has a prominent role and contributes admirably to the insurrectionary movements of that Province. He owns a large estate in Taverna Nuova, which improves with the construction of a palace in 1847.

Parallel to the events of the Barons of Lattarico, those of the Barons of Campitelli take place; Raffaele Marsico (Altilia l744-1809) and in fact the owner of Baroni a di Campitelli near Altilia.

We have news of this fief from the middle of the century. XV; the last known owner so far is Leopoldo Medici Gatti da Martirano in 1777.

Baron of Campitelli, in 181529, 1830 e 183230, turns out to be Michele Marsico, son of the aforementioned Raffaele and Brunilla Caruso, born in Altilia in 1773 and residing there in the building under the Monastery; and one of the largest owners of the Savuto Valley.

In 1798, Raffaele Marsico asks his brother Gaetano, resident in Naples, to arrange a good marriage for his son Michele, to which he assigns the Campitelli and Spatolette funds as a dowry, at Altilia, Monaco water, to Grimaldi.

Michele Marsico marries Maria Mazzei, daughter of Nicola – Royal Judge of Belvedere – and Cassandra Calandro da Belvedere. It contributes, together with Gabriele De Gotti and Vincenzo Federico, to the affirmation of the principles of freedom and independence; he was mayor of Altilia.

The 5 November 1809, his brother Ferdinando is killed with a lucile in the Aiello countryside, under mysterious circumstances36, just 23 years, without leaving heirs.

The 24 April 1813 is born, by Michele Marsico and Maria Mazzei, Gaspare Giorgio Lupo Nicola. The young Marsico grows up in the liberal climate of Altilia, very young he enrolled in the Young Italy, participates in the insurrectional attempt of 1848 and he is one of the animators of the Public Health Committee. He marries Carolina Cosentino from Aprigliano Corte, daughter of Giuseppe Maria was Vincenzo, and from their union they are born39: Francesca and Michele. Member of Parliament, dies in 1874.

In 1828, the Baron of Campitelli, Michele Marsico, asks the Archbishop of Cosenza for permission to erect one “Chapel of his patronage for himself’ and for his heirs”, in the Church of Santa Maria Santissima of the suppressed monastery of the Minori Conventuali, site in Altilia. Having obtained the approval in 1830, Michele Marsico bears the costs of renovating and maintaining the chapel of Santa Maria Immacolata, placed within the Church itself, which is used as a family chapel.

Other illustrious characters of the Marsico House are: Giuseppe and Gaetano, also sons of Baron Antonio and Nicoletta Mantuani.

Giuseppe was born in Altilia around 1748 but he moves, together with his brother Francesco, in Lattarico, where he marries Rosaria Martino.

In 1786 he is appointed tutor of the Dukes Cavalcanti of Rota, for the premature death of Duke Vincenzo.

In 1837 Giuseppe Marsico leaves a large inheritance to his children: Catilio, Armanno, Cristina, Tommaso, Enrico, Maria Teresa, Pasquale and Nicola.

The son Raffaele, religious of the Reformed Order with the name of Father Vitaliano, already in the i g30 his brother Catilius had established his universal heir, while his sister Marianna, religious in the Nun of Santa Chiara in Corigliano with the name of Mariantonia, waiver of the inheritance.

Giuseppe Marsico died in Lattarico in 1838.

Gaetano, born in Altilia around 1755, culturally formed in Naples, where he graduated in law; in 1871 he is a notary in Cellara.

In Naples, where he has been running the family business since 1792 al 1798, marries Angela Sorrentino.

In the period from 1806 al 1815, Gaetano Marsico is one of the most important landowners of Calabria Hither.

October 8th 1819, now close to death, leaves the sum of 1.200 ducats and appoints his sons Pietro as his universal heirs, Luigi and Emanuele 48. He died a few days later in his palace in Altilia.

Emanuele was born in Altilia around 1791, resides at “Fondaco” (now via Convento) and is mayor of Altilia.

Bride Saveria Beloved by Amantea, ma, not having had children, weaves a relationship with Maria Folino di Altilia. From this union was born in Scigliano, in 1848, Giuseppe Folino, who, later recognized as his son, will be called Giuseppe Folino Marsico.

Emanuele Marsico died in Altilia in 1866.

Giuseppe Folino Marsico marries, in 1868, cousin Teresa Marsico, daughter of Pietro and Gaetana Caria. This gives rise to the Folino Marsico branch which will use this surname until 1872, when registrations will take place with the surname Marsico only.

Pietro, son of Gaetano Marsico and Angela Sorrentino, was born in Naples on 10 August 1795. He lives in Naples and in Altilia where he resides in his Marsico palace (today of the Municipality).

In 1843 recognizes Teresa Caria as his daughter (will be Teresa Marsico), born in Rogliano on 20 May 1841 from a relationship with Gaetana Caria di Altilia, who will marry in 1851.


Author: Ivan Pucci

Federici Palace

Elegant composition by an unknown local stonemason. It has a portal in carved tuff stone with a round arch and projecting ribs.

Vincenzo Federici, called CAPOBIANCO

He was born in 1772 in Altilia. “He was of civil status, of advantageous stature; of strong temper, although corpulent; of comely face, my serious; of sparkling eyes under a broad forehead and blond hair; of poor studies, plywood of natural sagacity, straightforward judgment and persuasive reasoning” (L. M. Greco, p. 19).

From early youth he advocated principles of freedom. Influenced by the instances of the innovators from Cosenza, which, in 1799, on the example of the Neapolitan one, they had also proclaimed the Republic in Cosenza, the Federici, in his country, dove, like all the Silan municipalities, the contrasts between the peasants and the landed bourgeoisie ignited bitter conflicts, he was a firm believer in the republican experience, soon turned into a social rather than a political issue.

As soon as, then, in the Kingdom of Naples the Carbonari had begun to spread, he was among the first followers of the province of Cosenza. In a letter that King Joachim Murat wrote to Napoleon in February 1809, in which a list of Carbonari patriots from the southern regions was mentioned, operating in isolation and without constituting, yet, a real danger for the institutions, Federici's name was also reported.

To introduce the Carboneria in Calabria and in the South, immediately after returning, in February 1806, of the French, come, this time, not as conquerors but as reformers and inspirers of liberal orders and orientations, had been, in all likelihood, Pierre Joseph Briot, former Jacobin deputy and fervent Italophile, e, from July 1807 to September 1810, intendant of the province of Cosenza, after a short stay in Chieti.

The Murat, also recommended by the Genoese Antonio Maghella, Minister of Police, initially favored the Carbonari and its diffusion, making it appear as the most valid prop of the throne, with the intention of using it at the appropriate time to obtain the autonomy of the Kingdom. The coal mine, in this first phase, no more than a mixture of independence sentiments and constitutional aspirations, it quickly spread to various towns in the province of Cosenza. The first carbonara sale, officially constituted, arose, by the doctor Gabriele De Gotti, friend of the Briot, in 1811 in Altilia itself.

While subjected, in its first years of life, to Murattian influences, the Calabrian Carboneria was originally Francophile and supported the work of the government, but when in nearby Sicily, under the urges of England, and Bourbons, in 1812, granted the constitution, the Calabrian carbonari, in particular those fringes that had supported the French, they began to oppose Murat and to evaluate the possibility of a constitutional king Ferdinand. The Anglo-Bourbon propaganda had such an easy game in orienting the secret society against the French monarch, who, on the other hand, for its administrative absolutism, and despite the favor it enjoyed among numerous strata of the southern populations, he had always been opposed to supporting the movement that asked for the concession of representative institutions.

Federici too, active master of the sale of Altilia, suffered, of course, the myth of the Sicilian constitution and as a friend (General Manhès, military commander of Calabria, he had made him captain of the civic guards in his neighborhood) he became an irreducible enemy of the French, leaning towards the Bourbons and taking the path of armed revolt.

Became, meantime, head of the Calabrian carboneria, he not only established ongoing contacts with the region's sales, with those of Sicily and “by organ of the high Neapolitan sales with those of Northern Italy” (Andreotti), but he also introduced it in the most disparate circles of Calabrian society, both in the popular classes, both in the circle of the military and the clergy.

When the Carbonari, even though they are divided among themselves, among the elements sensitive to the Anglo-Bourbon promises and those still faithful to Murat, they thought of establishing the Republic in Catanzaro, the management of the initiative was entrusted to Federici, as the one who would have been able to better grasp the advantages of the favorable circumstance of Murat's contemporary military engagement in Russia and of the small troops present in Calabria, weakened, moreover, from the assiduous vigilance that they had to exercise on the Strait of Messina to curb the ambitions of the Bourbons.

The idea of ​​a motorcycle in Calabria, to obtain constitutional reforms from the government, came to the Federici in 1813. The 12 August, making use of his military rank and without a well-defined program, he reached the civics of the Carpanzano district and, pretending to have received special assignments from the police, he ordered them to be ready for a possible call. At the same time, with a lively circular letter, was targeting the province's carbonare sales, asking for the help of valid armed men to provide for the common defense, since the government had ordered the arrest of the rioters.

After a first, slight riot during the fair that took place on the banks of the Savuto, the 15 August Scigliano and Aprigliano moved, making the provincial commander G. Jannelli, who intervened immediately and, to restore order more readily, he promised the insurgents impunity if they returned peacefully to their homes. Everyone obeyed, except Federici, who went into hiding. His rebellious attitude worried the Cosenza authorities, who decided to report the matter to the Manhès. The general first called him personally and, immediately after, sent his “adjutant general Garnier” with a letter to be delivered to Federici, through Intendant L. Flat.

The bearer of the letter, chosen in the person of the priest Carlo Bilotta, convinced Federici, with whom he was in great intimacy, to go with his company to Cosenza at the superintendent and show up at the camp together with the Garnier. The agreement, sealed by a lunch, it did not last long, as the Federici, he left on a pretext for fear of being arrested, decided to resume the insurrection, perched in his native Altilia.

The 15 September a detachment moved against the country, but none of the inhabitants betrayed Federici who, after briefly speaking with an envoy of the soldiers, he ordered his men to fire on the handpiece. The commander of the expedition thus arranged to put the town on fire if the population had not handed over the Federici, but these, to save his people, say this alla fuga.

The energetic military action convinced Federici to intensify the agitation. His new plan was to raise the province of Cosenza, without shedding blood except in case of extreme need and intending to respect the property, and at the same time to prepare the revolt in the other two provinces of Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria, where the Anglo-Bourbons, come expressly from Sicily, they would take the direction of the motion.

After sending emissaries to Cosenza and the neighboring provinces, under the illusion that the mere presence of his followers would provoke revolt, Federici was trying to penetrate Cosenza. But luck did not help the Carbonari. Once in Dipignano, they were rejected by the legionaries and during the retreat Federici was unable to rejoin his companions. Find them only late in the evening, decided to fire them.

Thus ended the riot, which had been characterized, largely, by a large popular penetration, but not the hunt for Federici. In the afternoon of 22 September the Manhès entered Cosenza to calm the population and to strengthen the authority of the government. He ordered the arrest of all suspects and thanks to the informing of R. M. Miletus, capitular vicar of Nicastro, convinced Bonapartist (will be killed, around you, by the Carbonari in 1815 to avenge treason), the Manhès arrived at the Federici refuge, who, so, was being captured.

After a summary trial which ended with a death sentence for rebellion, treason and conspiracy, destined to arouse a vast echo of indignation of which Napoleon himself will have news, Federici was taken to the gallows, the 26 set. 1813, in Cosenza.


Altilia and its people. Historical notes and personalities of a municipality in the Savuto valley.


Gianfranco Ferrari

The art of stone decorators: the rediscovery of the Altilia School

With the end of the Roman Empire and before the Byzantine revival, the history of the workers operating in Calabria is covered by a thick veil of darkness. These only rise again after several centuries, and nevertheless show themselves impregnated with a Roman spirit which the roughness of dark times has not taken away the sense of mass and the simple and dignified line.

The huge gap begins to fill at least from the seventh century, with Byzantine and Basilian-Norman buildings. Da Stilo a S. Marco, from Roccelletta to Gerace you can make sense of the history of Calabrian masonry. sure, the Norman period concentrated the activity of Calabrian workers; in the enhancement of all the arts, in the exchange of examples and performers, especially between Calabria and Sicily, each other's workers benefited and, through the Basilian monastic element, experiences were transmitted, features and systems. Our workers worked, guided and dominated by the Roman-Ravenna current, for the robustness required for the seismic region and for attachment to classical systems. The Romanesque expressed in a slow and rude stylistically, it spreads from Cosentino to the foothills of Montalto.

The innovative function, it passes from the Basilians to the Latin cenobiarchs, Benedictines Cistercians, Florensi and then to the Dominicans and the Franciscans. They will be mainly Lombard examples and reduced schemes, Romanian, Nordic, which will appear in the iconographies and in some capitals imitated by obscure Calabrian stonemasons. Tracing some fragments of the life of the Bruzi artists is the most difficult task. Nobody took into account that in the stone quarries and thick woods, they have had , for generations, their workshops of stonecutters. They remained humble, but their works remain; you can see the imprint of solid rusticity in the squaring of the segments, especially where the internal and inaccessible locations, they allowed only the natives to work, with local material. The faithful workers of Cosenza working in the Crati and Savuto valleys, they will resist the new artistic currents that will affect the monastic foundations; with the Gothic of the Cistercians and with that of the Angevins and the Sienese gentiles. The buildings will have pointed arch portals, with their bundles of columns with the Gothic knot in the middle, with their creasing and hard carved frames with open foliage, with semicircular lobed hems; they will be reproduced in the tuffs in almost every farmhouse and village of the Sila.

Altilia and Mendicino will provide the most tenacious and long-lived workers, for the artistic re-flowering of the plateau and its valleys, until the Triumph, up to Savuto. The reconstructed villages will experience the centuries-old activity of that generation of builders and stonecutters.

The transition from the classic sixteenth to the seventeenth century does not have the slightest solution of continuity. History doesn't matter; the Calabrian workers continued their work faithful to the examples that were always the same. The reconstructions and restorations that took place after the earthquakes of the century. XVI and the principles of the century. XVII, they made masters of masons and stonecutters converge in the major centers. But the masons of Celico, and marble Gimiglianesi, the Roglian chiefs, the stonecutters of Altilia and Mendicino already had a name in the province of Cosenza.

The Baroque was invading, favored decorativism, and unfortunately he renewed and covered with plaster and venerable stones everywhere where sumptuous churches stood. The interior of the Cosentino Cathedral with a white curtain on the coverings, modiglioni curvilinei e cimase, it was totally transformed.

Entirely in Altilia stone, and among the works of local stonecutters, the facades of the churches of Scigliano and the mother church of Rende. Further south the generations of Altilia stonecutters worked intensely, always sober in style and who signed their works until the nineteenth century, with the last excellent master builders: Domenico Gaetano, Romano, Giuseppe and G. B. Caruso, Antonio Marsico, Lucky Ferrari. They were in renewed activity for the baroque and neoclassical portals and altars.

The greatest fame achieved by the master builders of the Altilia school, it dates from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century, renewing the Calabrian Cistercian models, without however losing its ancient matrix. It should be added that in the quarries of Altilia, the greatest master stonecutters from different geographical and cultural areas worked, I Maestri first cistercensi.

The cut stone used to build the Cathedral of Cosenza comes mainly from the quarries of Altilia. The school developed its own models and far exceeded the scope of its territory, ending by settling on parameters not lower than those of Rogliano.

Between 1200 and the 1500 the quarries of Altilia are exploited both by local workers and by stonecutters from the Crati valley and the presila, especially Roglianesi and Cistercians.

In the years between the 1500 al 1638 there is the greatest moment of creativity when the school works around modules of Cistercian art. Subsequently, with an extraordinary fervor of initiative, the masters from Altilia also try new expressive solutions: starting from the example of the ciliated arch of the Cathedral of Cosenza, they arrive at the transformation of the eyelash into a sort of curb that frames the entire portal and even the key of the arch, resulting in an effect of great originality.

After the earthquake of 1638, which destroyed Altilia , and up to 1850 begins a period of intense exploitation of the stone quarries for the reconstruction of the building heritage. The frequentation of the precious Altiliesi quarries, by stonemasons from different schools, it facilitated the circulation of ideas and the knowledge of new techniques and new models. The most fruitful exchange, overcome mutual distrust, however he remains among the masters of Altilia and Rogliano, which used the Cistercian creasing model in the 1700s. Between the second half of the eighteenth century and the end of the nineteenth century, the Altilian models were widespread in a large part of the Calabrian territory, from Aieta to S. Giovanni in Fiore, da Grimaldi a Pallagorio.

The Altilia school develops three types of portals during its historical journey:

ー CISTERCENSE FRAMING: imposes a pattern in which the main creasing, which determines the intrados, is projecting, an idea that finds application in the portals of Palazzo Federici (Altilia) and the Mannelli house (Grimaldi).

ー WITH CIGLIATO ARC FRAMING: it is visible in the Funari palace of Altilia. The portal is of a simple order, with projecting framing taken from the ciliated arch of the Cathedral of Cosenza. In the oldest type, of the sixteenth century, the framing is also extended to the key of the arch which enhances it by characterizing it.

ー SIMPLE ORDER AND HERALDIC LOCK or DOUBLE ORDER ALTILIESE AND HERALDIC LOCK: it was built by workers from Altily and is similar, from a structural point of view, to the Fuscaldese double order: the part of the intrados is projecting, that of the extrados is a continuous band that frames it, connected to the first order only through the capitals and plinths (house Pagliuso – Maione).

For all the types described, the unifying elements are the plinths and capitals. Only in the ciliated arch the key is organically fused with the frame.

The same key, peculiar element of this school, it is divided into two distinct types:



The latter, which remains the characterizing element of all types of portals, organically connects the moldings, but it is grafted like a frieze carved into a plate with flat reliefs, engraved on the plane, designed for a rigidly frontal view. This key feature interrupts the plastic development of the portal, especially in the Cistercian model , in which both the capitals and the plinths surround the moldings with a continuous pattern.

The tradition of the stonecutters from Altilia focuses its activity on the construction of portals. But observing a structure in its entirety you can see other artifacts that certainly do not go unnoticed for their exemplary decorations. Very refined decorations can be seen on the exteriors of the buildings.

There are various types of balconies, ranging from veranda-type to cantilevered ones, entirely in stone and even with balustrades of this material. Even the windows range from simple frames to decorations that recall the decorative trend of the building. They can be of vertical rectangular type, square or even oval and circular. In the interiors of the buildings we find stone stairs with fully decorated handrails. Internal doors of flattened arched warehouses with stone grids for the ventilation of the premises. Flooring and decorative friezes in the most important buildings, for which they also made the noble coats of arms. Particular importance was dedicated to the fireplaces on which the stonecutters indulged themselves with the most varied decorations. They also made millstones for the mills, mortars for pulverizing salt and tanks for collecting water.


Gabriele Ferrari

“Parrere”: the quarries of the stonemasons of Altilia

The village of Altilia is set on a rocky outcrop that has stratified over the millennia in oblique planes with thick layers of calcarenite, the typical Altiliese stone. The first deposits are identified in the upper part of the hill, in the locality of "Serre", where two quarry fronts are still visible today with vat and open-air extraction typology.

Abandoned this site, perhaps due to the achievement of a very hard layer of the stone and hostile to processing, the workers identified near the bed of the "Fiumicello" stream, which is located downstream of the Altiliese hill, a new site for the extraction. who, finding the same characteristics of the previous pitch, but that the presence of moisture brought by the river facilitated the extraction and processing of the characteristic stone of Altilia.

From this place, which is known as "Parrere" (perhaps from the French word "parrère", which means stone quarry) began the long-lived extraction that saw this stone highly sought after by all the Calabrian workers for its plastic qualities in the processing, but above all for the resistance to atmospheric agents.

The quarries have not been exploited for almost a century and everything has remained intact since the last time the stonemasons frequented these places; in fact in some quarries there are still artifacts that have just been roughly hewn or are even ready for installation.

The characteristic mineral composition of the stone of Altilia, leads us to divide the front of the quarries into two sections. Downstream we find a more porous type of stone, without impurities, excellent in processing and very resistant to atmospheric agents. In fact, in this area the stone for the construction of portals was extracted, building facades, etc.

Upstream, on the other hand, there is another type of stone, with characteristics identical to the previous one, but with the difference of not being porous; it is very compact and more subject to erosion. This emerges on the surface in many points and was mainly used for the construction of fireplaces, ovens, balustrades and internal arches; in short, all those works intended for non-external use.

The quarries that can be identified today are thirteen, but of these only nine are usable. In them it is possible to find engraved dates and names belonging to the stonecutters who worked there.

The oldest quarry seems to be the one with the date engraved on it 1316 and two initials J.M. (Joannes Marsico).

The mining activity in the quarries was regulated by specific professional figures: the "TRINCARI" were the workers involved in the extraction and squaring of the segments, the "MASTRO SCALPELLINO" finished and decorated and the "MULATTIERI" who transported the ready material to the construction site.

By carefully observing the interior of these quarries, you can see the various ways of extracting the stone that have taken place over the years. From this we can also assume their longevity. Then, in the most ancient quarries the stone was extracted in blocks. This operation involved the creation of a cutting line relative to the size of the block and holes were drilled on it in which oak or chestnut wood wedges were inserted.. By soaking the woods with water and applying pressure to them, the wedges swollen with water allowed the detachment of the block from the rock.

Over the years this ancient extraction technique and tools such as wedge were abandoned, mazza, palanchino, they gave way to explosives. The mines were introduced into the rocks through cylindrical holes distant from each other 30 cm. The explosive, associated in sequence, it was detonated simultaneously by means of primers. With this extraction technique, the rock detached itself from the wall in an uneven manner.

The tools for working the stone were of various shapes and cuts; you go to crowbars, punches and mallets for extraction up to pointed chisels and cutting for the processing of the most refined decorations. The fundamental ability of the stonemason was to know all the characteristics of the material that he then transformed.

The master stonemason began his work by roughing the rough stone block with punciotti and files bringing it to the dimensions required by the composition. Later we moved on to the decorations that, with small pointed and cut chisels, they were made on the block itself. After the processing of the stone modules, they were put in place under the watchful eye of the master builder who had built the artifact.

The skill of the masters, in addition to the meticulous decorations, was to perfectly match all the stone modules that made up the work.

The stone of Altilia: from quarries to installation


The stone block must be divided into pieces according to the desired size. In division it is important to recognize the verse, The second one, the cons. The pieces obtained are then roughly cut and completed both for the surface appearance and for the shape.

The tools for the roughing of semi-precious stones are:


ー Chisel.

For the roughing of soft stones are used:

ー Axes;

ー Wide cut chisels or planes.

To fulfill they are used:

ー Subbia fine;

ー Garden;

ー Martellina;

ー Bush hammer.

The processing of the faces of the masonry segments must be perfect on the supporting surfaces. The side surfaces, on the other hand, are finished only for a narrow band along the edges.


The descent of the blocks from the quarry face could take place with:

ー FREE FALL: the force of gravity was exploited by sliding the blocks on the slope;

ー LIZZATURA: the blocks loaded on wooden sledges, they descended along inclined planes sliding on wooden beams held by teams of men by sturdy ropes;

ー ANIMAL TRACTION WAGONS, they had a particular set-up (rear wheels smaller than the front ones) to keep the load horizontal and not to burden the animals too much.

The use of different methods was dictated by the particular conditions of both the quarried material and the morphology of the quarry and the surrounding area.

The installation of the segments for the construction of a building required the use of more or less complex machines depending on the weight of the segments themselves. The simplest machine called GOAT, suitable for vertical lifting only, it consisted of three wooden beams, gathered at the top to support the hoist. The lifting of weights was made possible by winches moved by arms or by giant wheels moved by men walking inside them.. The stone was anchored with ropes, olivelle, with pincers that were inserted into two holes made on one face of the segment and that, pulled by a rope, meant that the very weight of the block, closing these tongs, lifted it.


Gabriele Ferrari