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Articolo in inglese sulla “Casa dei Lanaioli”

28 agosto 2009 Nessun commento

Casa dei Lanaioli

Acts of Vandalism at the Casa dei Lanaioli

An historically important seal is damaged in a foiled attempt to set fire to the ancient structure.

As a result of the widespread damage inflicted by an ongoing series of nearby earthquakes, a large number of historical artifacts in the town of Campli require repairs as well as an extensive investigation of their structural integrity.  Perhaps more onerous and shocking however, are acts of incivility and barbarous intolerance recently directed at one of the city’s most ancient and cherished monuments.

At three A.M. on the morning of 1 May 2009 the Teramo fire department was alerted that smoke and a bitterly pungent smell seemed to be coming from the Casa dei Lanaioli in nearby Campli.  Almost miraculously, their quick response and immediate actions prevented the flames from reaching the roof made largely of wooden beams and cross supports.  The damage that did occur was in large part due to the presence of a large gas canister that was previously used for illumination and which had been deliberately left open so as to provide a source of fuel for the raging fire.

Unfortunately, the attacks on the monument were not limited to arson.  One of the lawbreakers apparently used a pick-axe to brutally deface a stone carved coat of arms that graced the portal above the main entryway.  The atrocious acts were likely abetted by the fact that the nearby Via del Monastero has, to the lament of both nearby residents and store owners, been largely off limits to pedestrian traffic for a long period of time.

About three years ago, given the clearly evident structural weaknesses and fears related to collapsing abutments, the communal authorities to cordoned the building with striped red and white striped tape.  Unfortunately, little has been done during this time to remedy these problems and the building remains off limits to tourists and others who might be interested in this historical treasure.  With the advent of the new political leadership under the tutelage of the Hon. Mayor Stucchi it is hoped that the structure will soon be classified as a cultural landmark.  In doing so it will also be important to keep the nearby street, Via del Monastero, open to public car and pedestrian traffic.  Unfortunately, previous town administrations have done very little work regarding this matter.

At this time the building remains in danger of physically collapsing.  The exterior walls are especially weak.  A very expensive system of temporary supports of Casa dei Lanaioli (financed by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Activities and Antiquities) has been put into place by the Edilsystem Firm of Perugia.  This makeshift solution insures that the auto buses traveling along Via del Monastero do not cause additional damage to this precious historical treasure.  Additional work of a more permanent nature is definitely needed along these lines.

For seven centuries the Casa dei Lanaioli has served as a testimony to hard work and dedicated efforts of Campli’s commercial and industrial interests.  A local publication, Campli Nostra Notizie, has taken on the task of keeping alive these memories of the many travails of the people of Campli.  Each year on the first of May a prize known as the “Casa dei Lanaioli” is awarded to the artisan, business person, or industry who has made an important contribution with regard to promoting a local product with origins in this area of Italy.

A Brief Historical Outline of the Monument
For many centuries dating back to the feudal era, the Casa dei Lanaioli has been a major economic hub (in past times known as a “corporation”) for the citizens of Campli and surrounding areas.  The Lanaioli Corporation dates back to the medieval period of the 13th century and for centuries has served as a center for the production of woolen cloth.  This trade made the city of Campli an important economic hub in this portion of east central Italy.  To this day one can still see original outlines of the buildings housing the corporation as they existed seven centuries ago.

The stone portal of the building is very similar to that found in a church, San Giovanni Battista (Saint John the Baptist), in nearby Castelnuovo.  One minor difference includes an architectural structure known as a “gola di toro” (throat of the bull) adorning the ogival arches on the Casa dei Lanaioli.  This is where the corporation seal can be found.  The lower portion of the structure is composed primarily of large, squarely sculpted travertine building blocks.  On the face of the building there remains a single lancet window.  A small window is identical to one present on a house called Pozzo dei Farnese.  Today Pozzo dei Farnese is a combination pizzeria/restaurant characterized by a small interior portico with a cross-shaped vault dating back to the late 14th century. From medieval times onward, the industry of wool processing and cloth manufacture was the principal economic activity of the people of Campli.  Much of this was centered around the Casa dei Lanaioli and for this reason the town has taken much care to preserve this important economic resource and historical treasure.

The commercial woolen cloth production from the Campli area was of such high quality in the early 1400’s that payments to the queen (Giovanna II of Durazzo) were often made using this commodity in lieu of hard currency.  The corporation which governed the woolen cloth trade in Campli was administered by four directors, one from each of Campli’s four main neighborhoods (upper Campli, lower Campli, Nocella and Castelnuovo).  These individuals were themselves skilled artisans and had a deep understanding of the various aspects of the various professions that necessarily had to work in a collaborative manner to produce high quality woolen goods.  Their duties included those commonly associated with today’s town councils.  Somewhat unique was their stated purpose to promote the wool trade in all its aspects and to work for the common good of all the many and varied artisan trades that were necessary to make this commercially viable.  The exclusive use of an official seal was granted to these four leaders.  As a mark of quality and in an effort to discourage the production of inferior competing products, genuine woolen goods produced in this area were marked with the seal of Campli.

In sum, today’s Casa dei Lanaioli has a rich and very important historical significance with regard to the economic development of the city of Campli.  To this day it is the home of important archives related to the commercial activities of the well off class of bourgeois families who worked to make this enterprise so successful.
Translated by STEFANO ULISSI

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