Church of St. Michael the Archangel

The Church of Saint Michael the Archangel is located in the North side of Saint Nilo Square. It was desired by the abbot Gisulfo of Montecassino who founded here the Monastery of Saint Angelo, the most important monastery after the Monastery of Montecassino itself. It’s hard to think that this church is more than 1200 years old, therefore throughout the years its shape changed a lot, due to numerous restorations, structural modifications and earthquakes damages.

Exterior

The structure has a longitudinal plan which on the exterior presents a simple white gabled facade decorated with simple light grey cornices that follow the perimeter of the facade and ideally divide the facade into two registers. The portal is flanked by two Doric pilasters which support a round arch with a simple lunette encasing a window with internal iron decorations. Above there is a rose window which represents the statue of Saint Michael the Archangel venerated inside the Church framed by two doric columns with a lowered arch. On the right, placed slightly forward, there is the bell tower divided into four registers by four cornices. The central register presents on two sides circular holes which each contain an eight-pointed contoured star. The last register is longer than the other three and presents an aperture with a round arch on every side.

Interior

The internal space is composed by a single apsidal nave which is divided into three rectangular spans by eight pillars. The Church is decorated with numerous neoclassical style paintings made in 1955. The pillars present various geometrical decorations with floral patterns while the ceiling displays a painted ceiling coffer. The apse of Saint Michael is supported by two Corinthian columns of Roman origin while the apsidal basin displays a vast painting which represents the Virgin surrounded by the Angels on top and the Archangels Gabriel and Raphael in the lower part. The main altar was built in 1975 thanks to Caterina Rossi after the demolition of the preceding one. On the left side of the last span there’s the Chapel of Saint Joseph that contains a beautiful neoclassical altar covered with polychrome marbles. Lastly, on the right side there’s the high altar dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows which was built in 1933 in memory of Benedetto and Maria Civita Di Cicco.

Statue of Saint Michael the Archangel

The statue of Saint Michael the Archangel is the most important sculture venerated inside the Church. It is made of wood, it is 55 inches tall and it is was carved around the second half of the 19th century. Unfortunately we don’t know the author, neither we know if the sculpture was commissioned or offered by somebody. Saint Michael is portrayed as a young man and he is caught in the act of submitting the Devil. He’s wearing an armour with a feathered helmet, a pair of sandals and on his left shoulder he’s wearing a flowing red cloak which flutters to his right. In his right hand he’s holding a thin sword while with his left hand he’s pointing at the Devil who is portrayed as a canine looking beast, very unusual for the iconography of the Saint. The figure of Saint Michael seems to have just laid after a flight and even though it gives a sense of power it remains light and his gestures delicate and graceful.

Roman Aqueduct

The Roman Aqueduct was built between 43 and 54 AD during the reign of the emperor Claudius in the locality “Campo” with the aim of bringing the spring water to the ancient city of Casinum. Its channel is 14 miles long and it crosses several nearby localities where in some places it comes out from the vegetation and can be glimpsed. In spite of the numerous visual and written sources, it is still difficult to establish who commissioned and who designed and built this wonderful work of ancient engineering. In the past it was discovered an incision on a polished stone wall in the locality of Casalucense with the dedication of the aqueduct to the eternal nymphs. The ruins of the canals and the reservoirs are still visible and well preserved around the spring area, hidden inside the vegetation.

The German Blockhouses

The German Blockhouses are a series of shelters built by the German soldiers during the Second World War on the peaks of Mount Cifalco, the most extreme point of the Gustav Line. These shelters were usually set in small grottos or they were built with stones and other materials available in the area. Each blockhouse had a specific function: some were used for the observation of the valley, some were used for recovery and some of them were used to attack. On the walls of a few blockhouses, in fact, there are several little circular holes which presumably were used to shoot and little gaps oriented towards the South. After all these years the blockhouses have remained almost completely unchanged and it’s still now possible to find remains of cans and fragments of grenades along the peaks of the mountain, which certainly makes Mount Cifalco an open-air museum.