|La Roccelletta di Borgia
By Domenico Russumanno
The imposing ruins that stand among the olive grove, between State Highway 106 and the State Highway (strade statali) for Borgia near the entrance to the archeological park (Scolacium) belong to the church of Santa Maria della Roccella commonly called Roccelletta.
The brick building is roofless and is composed of three parts: an extremely long single nave, a transept and an apse.
The architecture of the building seems to be of Cluniac origin but it also reveals Byzantine influences in the decorative motifs. It is generally thought to date back to the 11th century, although there is some controversy on this point.
(The term "Roccelletta", from which the place takes its name, first appears in documents dated 1096 to 1110 mentioning a "monasterio Beatae Mariae de Rokella" that may have originally been a basilian complex ).
From 1060, after the conquest of the castle of Squillace, the whole of Calabria was in the hands of the Norman.
Later remodeling has badly spoiled the facade with the addition of the large oculus (round window).
The upper section of the walls reused Greek and Roman building materials, with a technique that sets it apart from the rest of the church.
The structure was erected on the ruins of the forgotten ancient city of Scolacium in several stages of construction.
The building is in Western Romanesque style but still shows some Byzantine influence.
The decoration outside the apse has also been radically redone.
The church was designed with a single large nave ( 73 x 25 metres ) which was covered with wooden trusses and lit by five windows on each side.
This flanked by two narrow side aisles and led to the great arch that set off the elevated transept.
The transept was covered by a series of crossed vaults broader then the nave, allowing it to take in the stairs leading to the top.
From the transept, broad steps led to three apses. Under the presbytery lies the crypt, again covered by crossed vaults.
Over the centuries the complex was used for many purposes, from a fortress to pens for animals in the second half of the 19th century and as a quarry for building materials in the first years of the 12th century.
To the history of the Norman church there is linked a wall aedicula decorated by bas-relief with the Madonna Odighitria ("who shows the way"), signed by Michele Barillari in 1852.
This piece was originally part of a fountain constructed in 1847, for the wayfarers who went into the Casini della Roccelletta, a fortified area designed in 1779 as the summer residence of the bishops of the diocese, which was meant to contain dwellings, a courtyard and a church.
It was abandoned after the earthquake of 1783 before being finished and reconstructed in the middle of the 19th century,thanks to Bishop Pasquini who had built, inside the Casini Della Roccelletta, a church, a colonnaded edifice and some small houses.
Archivi per i beni culturali
Squillacium - Scylletium was an ancient seaside city in the comune of Borgia, near Catanzaro.
According to legends, it was founded by an Athenian colony, a part of the followers who had accompanied Menestheus to the Trojan War. Another tradition was, however, extant, which ascribed its foundation to Ulysses.
|View of Copanello
A new morning in the medieval town of Squillace as seen from the nearby town of Vallefiorita.
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