inhabited since the Pre-Hellenistic age, San Marco lies at some
550m of altitude, only 9km from the coast. All the civilizations
that settled in Sicily throughout the centuries have left here their
indelible traces: the Greek, the Roman, under which it became Municipium
Aluntinorum, the Norman, who baptized it San Marco dei Normanni,
after the name of the first city they took in Calabria. Robert Guiscard
had a castle built on the area, whose ruins still dominate the city
from the highest point in town. King Martin of Aragon bestowed it
upon the Filangeris for their services.
a secluded position, before entering the village, left of the road,
stands the Chiesa di San Marco, erected on the temple of Heracles,
dating from the 4th century, of which only a few blocks of tufa
stone have remained. The church, entirely open to the sky, retains
its stone walls and a re-erected doorway.
Teodoro (or Badia Piccola) – Built in the 16th century on
the site of a Byzantine chapel, it is built on a Greek-cross with
each square arm enclosed by a little dome. The interior is ornamented
with magnificent Serpotta-style stuccoes depicting Judith and Holofernes
and the Manna falling from Heaven in the Desert (at the sides of
the Altar), scenes from the parable of the prodigal son; saints
and the four theological Virtues grace the pilasters that rise up
to the vault.
delle Monache Benedettine – Built in 1545, it was recently
restored to soon accomodate a museum dedicated to Byzantine-Roman
art. Two of three apses on the ground floor, that once formed part
of the Cappella dei Quattro Dottori (11th century) were brought
to light. They are decorated with splendid and well-preserved Byzantine
frescoes . Those in the right-hand apse are very well-preserved:
the Madonna in the vault has beautifully delicate hands (unfortunately
her face is obscured), in the tier below (separated by a clear boundary
symbolising the separation of heaven and earth), the four Doctors
of the Orthodox Church – St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory
of Nazianzus, St. Basil the Great and St. Athanasius – are
shown against a bright blue background.
Giuseppe – The church of St. Joseph houses the Museo Parrocchiale,
whose collections comprise sacred furnishings, wooden reliquaries,
a wooden polychrome Madonna Odigitria, a charming wooden figure
representing Mary Magdalene (17th century) and a painting of the
Deposition (18th century).
Centre – The main streets, Via Aluntina, runs through the
centre of the town past the Chiesa Madre dedicated to St. Nicholas
which has an austere façade only partly relieved by three
portals in red Alunzio Marble, largely used inside, too. Further
along, in Piazza Sant’Agostino, stands the Chiesa di Santa
Maria delle Grazie, preserving the Filangeri funerary monument by
Domenico Gagini, dated 1481, and a fine statue exuding gentle serenity.
road then continues to the 1700’s Chiesa di San Basilio, with
its arcade of pointed arches, and on to the 1600’s Chiesa
dell’Ara Coeli, with an elegant doorway made of Alunzio marble,
ornamented with volutes and floral elements. Inside, contained within
the Cappella del Santissimo Crocefisso, encrusted with fine stuccowork
by Serpotta depicting saints, lively cherubs, angels and festoons
of fruit, is an expressive 1600’s Spanish wooden Crucifix.
Salvatore – Also known as the Badia Grande, since it used
to adjoin an important Benedictine convent. Now alone, it stands
in ruins not far from the football pitch. Its elegant doorway made
of Alunzio marble, is ornamented with columns, angels and cherubs.
Inside, visitors are greeted by a band of serenading angels playing
trumpets, various allegorical figures, playful cherubs bearing heavy
drapes, scrolls and garlands of flowers; the exuberant stucco decoration
culminates in sumptuous drapery hanging from the wooden canopy over
treat – The restaurant La Fornace at 115 Via Cappuccini, is
renowned for its maccheroni al ragù, cooked in a terracotta
bowl, and for its char-grilled meat.