DiscoveringPolistena Progetto PON “Comunichiamo in Inglese”
Historical notes • The originsofPolistena are uncertain. Located on a ridgebetween the Vacale, Jerulli and Jerapotamotorrents, itwas a crossingpointfor the people of Locri along the road towardstheircolony, Medma. • Polistenaprobablyexisted in the Byzantineperiod, butthereisalsoimportantevidenceof the Roman era. • In 1669 the townobtained the titleofMarquisate and City, consolidating the ancientroleofurbancentre, silk and art market. • The townwasdestroyedbyanearthquake in 1783.
A townof culture and art • Polistena was a town of culture and art. • In Polistena there was a school of sculpture, stucco decoration and painting. • Morani and Jerace were the most important sculptors. • Polistena has an important musical tradition. Antonello Marafioti was the most important musician in the 16th century.
Churches and worksof art Chiesa Madre, with its imposing three-nave form, contains a marble column of the Deposition of Jesus Christ, a sixteenth century work of priceless value. There is also a marble altar of SS. Sacramento with the painting of “The Last Supper” by F. Jerace. The “Resurrection of Lazarus” is a magnificent canvas prominent in the vault, realised by C. Zimatore at the beginning of the twentieth century. Very interesting is the wooden choir stall, the work of G. Silipo (1893).
Churches and worksof art Chiesetta dell’Annuziata was rebuilt after the 1783 earthquake. It is a small church containing a wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin. Chiesa di S. Maria degli Angeliislocatedwithin Palazzo Riario Sforza. The churchhasan altar madefrommulticolouredmarble; a marblereliefofS.Maria di Loreto; inscribedheadstones; a holy water stoup and a marblesarchophagusby G.D. Milano.
Churches and worksof art Chiesa di S. Francesco has a façade with an imposing lithic portal and two terracotta statues. Inside there are two woonden statues of S. Francesco di Paola, one of them attribuited to Francesco Morani; a headstone with incriptions previosly belonging to the Convento dei Paolotti and a marble pulpit with sculptures by. M. Parlato. Chiesa dell’Immacolata has a single-nave interiorwith a woodenroofwithstuccowork. On the altar there are the statuesof St. Lucia (accreditedto Bernini), St. Catherine and the ImmaculateConception (byunknownsculptors).
Churches and worksof art Chiesa del Rosario is a magnificent building with two bell towers. It has a three-nave interior with stuccoes and neoclassic high reliefs. Inside there are paintings by R.Carignani, R.Scerbo and M.Tigani together with a number of valuable statues and stained-glass windows. Chiesetta di S. Anna mayhavebeen a Basilian eremite grotto and itisconsideredtobe the oldest building in Polistena. Itremainedintactduring the 1783 earthquake.
Churches and worksof art Chiesa della Trinità has a two-level façade with a series of two granite columns, a lithic portal and a dome lined with polychrome majolica tiles. Inside there is a reliquary, a valuable example of Umbrian culture, a wooden statue and a painting of the Madonna dell’Itria. Chiesa della Madonna della Catena is a destinationfornumerouspilgrims, especiallyduring the holidayperiod.
Amidancientbuildings: the romanticitinerary • Immediately after the earthquake, the town was quickly rebuilt and an interesting urban layout was created in the upper part of the town, known as Evoli. • Here important aristocratic buildings were constructed with imposing frontispieces featuring floral motives, festoons, volutes, Spanish balconies and huge portals from local granite. • Among them Palazzo Valensise with its private chapel S. Domenico, Palazzo Jerace, Palazzo Avati and the ruins of Palazzo Tigani. • In Piazza del Popolo there is the War Memorial of Francesco Jerace.
The oldmedievalcentreitinerary • The earliest inhabited centre can be identified in the compact area of houses on the site of the ancient church of S. Marina. • The populace had to adjust to repopulating the ancient historic centre rebuilding both the old “Muraglie” and the “Arco” and “S. Maria” districts. • Here visitors will find a distinct Mediterranean atmosphere with stairways, alleyways, terraces, bridges, poor houses, votive niches and ruins of various ancient monasteries in close succession. • Following this itinerary it is not difficult to come across the Casa dei Jerace, with its marble headstone in memory of Polistena’s famous artist Francesco Jerace, or the Casa di Francesco Morani, symbol of the Morani family, that expressed its genius in the fields of statuary, sculpture and painting.
Squares, gardens and monuments: the moderntown • The villas and gardens of Polistena form the green lung of the town: Villa Italia, Parco della Liberazione, Parco di via Gagarin, Villa. S. Maria, Villetta Municipio, the latter of which is home to the monument to Marino Tigani. The characteristic Laghetto delle Papere, home to a monument of the Blessed Virgin by G. Niglia, is an area where greenery, imagination and antiquity blend in a harmonius conception of art. • Along via Nenni is a monument to Francesco Jerace.
Squares, gardens and monuments: the moderntown • The modern town boasts the modern majesty of the “Amphitheatre” on the Jerapotamo, the efficient Town Hall, the Auditorium, the elegant Guest Rooms the new Council Chamber, the S. Maria degli Ungheresi Hospital, the sumptuous Scholastic Building in via Trieste with the War Memorial of Marino Tigani and the new sport facilities in the P.I.P industrial district with its various businesses. • The Town Library, with approximately 50,000 volumes, tends to specialise more and more on the subject of Calabria. • Joined to the library, the Municipal Museum contains fossil and archaeological finds; artistic documents; local antiquity and an ethnographic centre.
Religious and secularfestivals, traditions and populardevotion • Most of Polistena’s traditions, passed down over the centuries, are linked to a deep religious sentiment. • Particulary suggestive are the Holy Week Rites with the visit to the Sepulchres; the morning procession of Our Lady of Sorrows; the nocturnal torchlight procession of the “Mysteries” and the “Affruntata” between Christ Resurrected and Our Lady on Sunday. • The feast of S. Marina with the procession of the simulacrum of the Blessed Virgin of Bitinia, accompanied by a long line of saints venerated in the town, represents a day of great devotion. • The Polistena Carnival has remote origins and nowadays it consists of multi-coloured allegorical papier-mâché floats, dances, fanfares and majorettes.
Gastronomy, craftwork and fairs • The gastronomyofPolistenaissimple and natural, typicaloftraditionalrusticMediterraneancuisineseasonedwithnatural olive oil: stockfisch, driedcod, friscatuli (polenta withvegetables), zimbatò, struncatura, zippuli, pittichjni, homemadecakes: nacatuli, pignolate, mustazzola, etc. Pastrymakingalsoenjoys a certainrenown, in particularthatoftorrone, thatisstillexportedallover the world. • Polistenahas a richheritageofcraftsmenincludingcarpenters, cabinet makers, blacksmiths, tailors and printersaswellasweaverswho continue the traditionofproducing the famous “pezzare”. Polistenaboastsanancienttraditionoffairsdating back as far as 1498. The onlyfairsthatremaintoday are thoseofAllSaints, The Blessed Virgin and The Catena.