Located outside the walls in the Umbrian hill-town of Spoleto, San Ponziano is a 12th-century monastic church dedicated to the patron saint of the city. It has a lovely Romanesque facade and extensive medieval frescoes in the crypt.
What to See at San Ponziano
The Romanesque facade is an attractive combination of decorative cornices, a central oculus surrounded by the symbols of the Four Evangelists, and a square portal framed with Cosmatesque mosaics, carved decoration, and another set of medallion sculptures of the Evangelists. A tall, plain campanile is attached to the northwest corner.
The interior is less interesting, as it was fully Baroqued by Giuseppe Valadier in 1788. The three-aisle basilica has five bays, no transept and an elevated presbytery over the crypt. A cabinet behind the altar contains the relics of St. Ponziano, which are carried to the cathedral in procession each January 14. Next to it is a painting of the beheading of the saint.
The main attraction of San Ponziano is the crypt, entered at the end of the left aisle. Things improve even as head in that direction: the corridor leading to the stairs has large Corinthian columns embedded in the wall, a Lombard-era sarcophagus, and a 15th-century terracotta sarcophagus.
The crypt itself is spacious. It has a central row of columns supporting a groin vault, and apsidal chapels along the east side. In the center are two rare conical pillars, which are thought to be posts from a Roman hippodrome. There are also three Early Christian sarcophagi, with inscriptions scraped off, from the cemetery over which the church was built.
The crypt chapels are decorated with colorful frescoes dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, as follows:
Quick Facts on San Ponziano
|Names:||Chiesa di San Ponziano · Church of St. Ponziano · Monastero di San Ponziano · San Ponziano|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||42.739511° N, 12.741630° E|
|Address:||Via della Basilica San Salvatore, 4|
|Hours:||Daily 8:30-5:30; if locked during these hours, inquire at the custodian's house (with a flight of outside stairs on the right).|
|Lodging:||View hotels near San Ponziano|
- Personal visit (April 20, 2008).
- Alta Macadam and Ellen Grady, Blue Guide Central Italy with Rome and Florence, 1st ed. (Somerset: Blue Guides Limited, 2008), 555.
- "Chiesa di San Ponziano: Secc. XII-XIII" (Arcidiocesi di Spoleto-Norcia, Le Nostre Chiese 6). Pamplet purchased at the church.
Map of San Ponziano, Spoleto
Below is a location map and aerial view of San Ponziano. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.