Preserving each testament of civilization so that it becomes occasion of memory, identity and cultural development for human beings who live and will continue living there. MuCiRaMa is the acronym for the Museo Civico “Raffaele Marrocco”. The collections explore almost each branch of knowledge: Samnite, Roman and prehistoric archaeology, medieval, baroque and the nineteenth-century sculpture, painting from the 17th to the 20th century, ceramics and majolicas, a nativity scene and some eighteenth-century sacred furnishings, coins from antiquity to 1900, geological and paleontological findings and some scientific instruments. Moreover, the storytelling of the museum unfolds in a historic site that could be considered as a museum itself in terms of architecture and art. Raffaele Marrocco (1875 – 1949) born and lived in Piedimonte Matese and for his hometown. He was fond of history and archaeology of the territory, Fu appassionato cultore di storia e archeologia del territorio, an honorary inspector of the monuments from 1912 and also author of studies and publications. In 1913 he founded the museum. After several years of closure, the Museum finally reopened in 2013 and was named for its founder.

The building was a Dominican monastery. It rose by the church of San Tommaso d’Aquino and is still considered as the one and only museum of Art from Renaissance to the 19th century. It is located at the foot of the calcareous cliff on which stands the Doge’s Palace. It took over from the ancient church of San Pietro, perhaps dated to the 7th century d. C., that in turn have been conversion and re-use of a pagan temple. This monastery rose between 1399 and 1414 in Gothic style by the will of Sveva Sanseverino, Countess of Piedimonte. The structure of the first level and the pointed arches of the large cloister portico are the only things left. The cloister was entirely painted around the middle of the 17th century, full of grotesque vaults, landscape paintings – particularly interesting is the representation of the erupting Vesuvius – allegorical and astronomical figures on the vaults and St. Domenico’s and Virgin Mary’s stories on the lunettes. The smaller cloister and the Baroque restoration of the first and second floor can be traced back to the 18th century. From the cloister it is possible to enter the Chapel of the Rosary, painted in the first decades of the 18th century. In the middle of the vault there is the canvas “Madonna del Rosario e il 15 Misteri”. On the walls there are ninteenth-century wooden cupboards used in pharmacy from the hospital of Annunziata. The cloister portico hosts the lapidary too, with capitals, memorial stones and epigraphs from the Roman Age. The passageway from the larger cloister to the smaller one exhibits coats – among which are particularly interesting the fifteenth-century shield ones – medieval and ancient fragments.

The small cloister has two portico sides under which there are other archaeological fragments: capital, statue and decorative friezes fragments, all ancient and made of marble, and terracotta dolia used for food. Very suggestive are the calcareous rocks of the mountain visible under the arches of the smaller side.

From the smaller cloister it is possible to enter the archaeological area. It exhibits materials found in the territory around Samniteand Roman Allifae till Telese. The terracotta ex voto from the 8th century BC to the 2nd AD represent parts of the human body, objects, figures and animals: they were the clear sign of gratitude to the divinity for a service rendered and viceversa. Extraordinary is the small bronze representing Hercules and found on Monte Cila in Piedimonte where there is an enormous megalythic wall. The small bronze can be traced back to the 4th or 3rd century BC and the cult of Hercules, considered as protector of flocks, was deeply rooted for ages among the Samnite. Remarkable are the remains of belts and male swords and numerous examples of fibulae, rings, bronze necklaces and female glass paste dated to 7th ore 6th century BC. Jewelry has such a modern shape that would be successful still today. Ceramic vases alludes to the practice of the Symposium, the friendly moment of the Greek world composed of the ritual banquette and abundant drinking of wine.

The rite indicated social prestige and therefore vases were decorated with figures. And after death, all these objects followed the owner in the grave. The rite was brought by Greeks in Italy and was imitated by Etruscans and then by Samnites. The ones found in Alvignano are from the 4th century BC, others are decorated with red or black figures to imitate bronze, but all of them were produced in Campania. The crater was used to stir wine and water, the pelike to bring to the table any beverage, while the situla was used for the transport. Samnites knew about Greek and Etruscan refinements and they copied from them their writing. They would speak in Oscan, the common language used by ancient Italian populations and quite similar to Latin. It was written from right to left, just like Etruscan. The Oscan pronunciation was as far from Latin as Appennian dialects are far from Italian. The fragment of inscription comes from the sanctuary of Monte Cila and can be dated to the 4th or 3rd century BC. It was written STLUS buti t was read “sults”! The room next exhibits the rural production of the ancient world with panels, models and the representation of a wine press.

The first floor proposes more recent stories. The wooden and original show-cases are the ones chosen by Marroco. At the beginning of the hall there are three carved busts: the first is of the Count Caetani d’Aragona, the other is of Jerace – dated about the 19th century – and the last is of King Francesco II Borbone and his wife Maria Sofia Wittelsbach, remained nameless and dated perhaps 1860. The central boards host the coin cabinet: almost 200 coins, from the 4th century BC to the first years of the 19th century. Each coin tells a story. Extremely rare are the tournois coined around 1460 by Nicola II Monforte Count of Campobasso, totally different from the King’s coins because he rebelled against Ferrante I.

In 1930 Marrocco did make dolls to preserve colours, shape and the way they used to wear traditional clothes of the Matese. There are several melee weapons, that is with blades, and powder guns on the board and on the walls, dated from the end of 17th century to 1950. The most important hystorical memory is the flag of the Matese legion, used from 1860 to the arrival of Garibaldi in the South of Italy. Silk and golden vestments, wooden and brass sacred furnishings and liturgical books are all from the 17th and 18th century. A small show-case keeps an extremely rare hourglass – perhaps from the 17th century – fossil and rocks of the Matese. The Matese is represented in the large plaster model in the centre of the room.

In the dome room there are some ancient marble fragments and the mold of the Alifan calendar – the original one is in Museo Archeologico in Naples, which reported Alifan feasts during the Julio-Claudian Imperial Age. Pietro Braherio, a vigilante of Terra di Lavoro, died in 1298, and his medieval and stonework tombstone has a Romanesque stylophore lion and it is located in the Abbey of San Salvatore Telesino, whose capital is Gothic.

The room next keeps tools from the meteo-astronomical observatory in Monte Muto, founded in 1875: an equatorial telescope (Steinheil&Sohne, Munchen, 1912), two sundials given by gnomonic hole (one of them is by Father Denza, 1878) and two small telescopes from the end of the 18th century.

At the end of the hall there is a nativity scene, quite interesting for the characters’ clothes, from the Neapolitan 17th century. The following show-cases keep pharmacy jars, plates and dishes, ceramic holy water fonts produced in Italy and obviusly in Cerreto Sannita from 1600 to 1800.

The Art Gallery has paintings from the end of 1500 to the first years of 1900. The two canvases of Franciscan saints come from the Capuchin monastery: they were painted by Teresa Palomba, a well-known painter from 1742 to 1773. “Jesus Christ and the adulteress” and “The Adoration of the Child” are from the end of 1500. Del 1600 sono “Rest on the Flight into Egypt”, “The Holy Family with St. Govannino”, “Still life”, “Rural landscape” and “St. Joseph” are from 1600. Two youngsters and the other portrait are from 18th century. All of them set in the Neapolitan context.
Extremely rare is the 1700 wooden and leather golden coloured sedan chair.


text by Pietro Di Lorenzo / translated by Denise Kendall-Jones (2020)




Data ultima modifica: Giugno 15, 2023
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