Around 800 years ago, Benedictine workers built this structure in Fossa on top of a 9th century AD Roman-Byzantine temple. And that was already on top of a crypt where for centuries BC and up until 391 AD, the Vestini tribe honoured Vesta (pagan goddess of hearth, home and family).
It’s survived more than 17 earthquakes over many centuries as well as WW2 bombings close by.
While humble outside, painted inside its walls is some of the oldest, most precious art in Abruzzo. Gothic-Byzantine frescoes that depict scenes like the last judgment (said to have inspired Dante to later write the Divine Comedy after he visited Fossa in 1294) and the pagan agrarian calendar so central to a rural community and to show stories for those not fortunate to learn to read.
Recently it reopened, a decade on from its damage after the 2009 earthquake. Beliefs aside, it’s significant to see its art restored, not just for those at present but for generations to come, for it’s a story of the area’s people and even the tiniest villages high in the mountains have their own potent stories.