San Ponziano, Spoleto

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.

advertisement

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

Site Information
Names:Chiesa di San Ponziano · Church of St. Ponziano · Monastero di San Ponziano · San Ponziano
Country:Italy
Categories:churches; monasteries
Styles:Romanesque
Dedication: St. Ponziano
Dates:12th C
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:42.739511° N, 12.741630° E
Address:Via della Basilica San Salvatore, 4
Spoleto, Italy
06049
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
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Personal visit (April 20, 2008).
  2. Alta Macadam and Ellen Grady, Blue Guide Central Italy with Rome and Florence, 1st ed. (Somerset: Blue Guides Limited, 2008), 555.
  3. "Chiesa di San Ponziano: Secc. XII-XIII" (Arcidiocesi di Spoleto-Norcia, Le Nostre Chiese 6). Pamplet purchased at the church.

More Information

View from outside the monastery walls, with the medieval Rocca crowning the hill in the distance. © Holly Hayes
Romanesque facade and tower of San Ponziano. © Holly Hayes
Detail of facade with central oculus and sculptures. © Holly Hayes
Baroque nave, looking east to the raised presbytery. © Holly Hayes
The crypt, with ancient conical pillars that may be from a hippodrome. © Holly Hayes
Fresco of the Madonna and Child, left chapel of the crypt, 15th century. © Holly Hayes
Fresco of the Trinity in the central chapel of the crypt. © Holly Hayes

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.