The Painted Palazzo -Il Palazzo Dipinto

March 21st, 2017 Tagged with:

Il Palazzo Dipinto/ The Painted Palazzo  is the  seventh volume  about  the Tuscia Viterbese    by  journalist and historian Mary Jane Cryan .   It contains  new research  uncovered in the last few years, in  English and Italian for the  general public.  Limited edition. 


Sarà presentato a Ronciglione, Festival CUBO,

 giovedi 25 maggio 6:30 p.m. Chiesa della Provvidenza

Durante  il convegno “Fascinazione Etrusca”  Capranica 26 maggio

e  a Vetralla il 27 maggio


                                        FULL COLOR    120 pages, bibliography.  Cost  10 euro 

Discounts for schools,  language learning,  associations

  Use contact page  to order. Payment with paypal.

Postage, shipping  2 euro to Italian addresses.


    copertina Palazzo

cover art  by Kelly Medford

E’ uscito  il nuovo libro  di Mary Jane Cryan.

E’ la settima pubblicazione  dedicata alla storia e cultura della sua patria  d’adozione.  In Inglese  e Italiano.

Titles of chapters               Capitoli

The Painted Palazzo-Il Palazzo Dipinto: due famiglie  piemontesi – Piatti e Canonica-  a Vetralla e nel Lazio: i personaggi, le case, I giardini, i misteri

New Discoveries of art and history in Vetralla-Nuove scoperte d’arte e storia a Vetralla

Foreign Visitors  discover Ferento-Come I viaggiatori  stranieri hanno visto Ferento

Mysterious Museum Graffitti –Graffitti misteriosi al Museo


Contributi  di Susanna Ohtonen, Ruud Hupperts, Maria Giovanna Fadiga e numerosi   collezionisti, fotografi e artisti



PREZZO 10 euro          Spedizione   2 euro  a indirizzi italiani              Pagamento con  paypal

Sconti per multiple copie, per scuole di lingue,  per agriturismi, B&B, scuole, associazioni.



First Review by Judith Works

Historian and writer Mary Jane Cryan takes the reader on another excellent tour of several lesser-known sites tucked away in northern Lazio. The short book, written in both Italian and English, is ideal for those learning Italian, and for tourists who are interested in delving deeper into the complex layers of history of this small part of Italy so close to Rome.

Ms. Cryan uses the Piatti family as her springboard for her stories. They were the former owners of a palazzo in Vetralla where she herself now lives. Early postcards of Vetralla show the town dominated by an enormous building consisting of 85 rooms on five levels along with outbuildings. This is the Palazzo Piatti, purchased by the family in 1903. Its origins are unknown but probably medieval. One can only imagine the original builders.

The Piatti were builders and engineers originally from the Piedmont, who played a large part in the development of railroads in Italy from the mid-19th century to the early 20th. They became wealthy property owners, purchasing villas in the Piedmont, Subiaco and Rome, as well as more than 5000 hectares of land around Viterbo and Vetralla.

The family favored a style of decoration from Liguria, the interior painted with floral design, examples of which remain along with scraps of other frescoes so evocative of Lazio with its cypress and umbrella pines. The exterior was a mix of tromp l’oeil and checkerboard, unfortunately now gone as are the servants and workers who must have maintained the establishment. But the palazzo itself survived, serving as barracks during World War I, and as a second home for the famous sculptor Pietro Canonica, when his daughter married one of the heirs to the Piatti fortune. But time and the forces of history never rest. Portions of the building were sold off beginning in 1929 because of gambling debts, and by 1939 the remainder passed from the family hands. Parts of it were used as a club for Fascist family members, then living quarters for homeless families during and after the war.

The wheel of fortune turned again with new owners who appreciate the remaining frescos and who have put their energies into restoration. One couple have rebuilt the gardens and a portion of the building to be used for musical performances put on by OperaExtavaganza.

The Piatti family had an impact on other properties in the area including the island of Bisentina floating on Lake Bolsena. One of the Piatti brothers owned it from 1899 to 1912 and was responsible for the restoration of a crumbling monastery and establishing the botanic gardens. Yet another overlooked site to go on my “To Visit” list.

The second half of the book consists of vignettes about new discoveries and locations worth a visit – who wouldn’t want to see Easter Island sculptures in the tiny hill town of Vitorchiano? I was particularly interested in the ruins located at Ferento, the Roman city of Ferentium, as seen through the eyes of travelers in the 18th century and early 20th. It was inhabited until the Middle Ages when the good citizens of Viterbo reportedly destroyed it over the offense of a crucifix designed with Christ’s eyes open instead of shut. Now it’s a little-visited archeological site hosting an amphitheater and a few other semi-ruined buildings. The Roman road running through the town is rutted with cart tracks and I wondered if travelers passed by the Palazzo Piatti on their way to visit before moving on to Rome.

One of these travelers to the site, James Sully, recorded his impressions of the area after he visited Ferento. In a book published in 1912, he sniffed. “He will do well to visit other towns which had hostile doings with Viterbo: …Vetralla where, though there is little of interest in the squalid-looking town, he may walk over to the romantic Valley of Norchia, and see the long series of lofty, temple-like Etruscan tombs carven on the face of the warm yellow cliffs.”

Well, now we know he was wrong. If only he’d had this entertaining book in hand he’d have had a far better impression.

Review by Judith Works, author of the memoir Coins in the Fountain – a Midlife Escape to Rome.


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