Buildings trembled when the September
1997 earthquake hit central Italy, including the ancient
town of Cagli in the Marche region.
Cagli was not hit as hard as other
towns in the region — the dome of the duomo,
the basilica cathedral of the city, was slightly pulled
away from a support wall — yet the city still received
a large amount of money from the government to repair damaged
Some sources said the restoration
the church needed was simply a way to receive free aid and
repair other parts of the town. Damage to the basilica cathedral,
built in 1424, was the main reason Cagli received money;
but the small city of 10,000 received much more aid than
that restoration required.
"The state gave money, and Cagli
took advantage of this by restoring other things,”
said Nazzareno Bartolucci, the priest at the cathedral.
Private homes as well as part of
an elementary school and other public buildings also received
minor damage — not nearly as much as the duomo —
and they also received government money.
the earthquake hit, there was shaking going on for about
bell tower was heavily damaged by the earthquake.
In all, Cagli was given more than €15
million to make repairs, but Cagli only ended up using €11
Of the €11 million, about €4 million
were used for the church and other public buildings.
"Each building had its own problem, and the state gave money
to repair those buildings,” said Domenico Papi, the mayor
Cagli has a lot of historical buildings and other architectural
It was under control of the Roman Empire in 295 B.C. and then fell
to the Goths and later to the Byzantines, who included it in the
Mediterranean Pentapoli. The Via Flaminia, one of the Rome’s
earliest roads, is nearly 5,000 years old.
In 1287, a fire destroyed most of the city,
but two years later Pope Nicholas IV rebuilt it. Much of the earlier
architecture of Cagli was destroyed in this fire. Many of the structures
erected after the blaze remain functional today — including
City Hall, which was built in 1289, and La Fortezza, the walls around
the city of Cagli, built in 1463.
In 15th century the Montefeltro family of
Urbino controlled Cagli. Then from 1502 to 1503 Cesare Borgia, who
built the grand tower, the city’s landmark structure in 1502,
governed the city. The Medici of Florence ruled Cagli from 1513
In 1631 it was taken over by the Papal States,
and it remained this way until the unification of Italy in 1860.
Not only is the architecture of Cagli ancient
and historically significant, but the artwork is significant as
well. Frescoes — some of which are located in the cathedral
— date back to the 13th and 14th centuries during the Roman-Gothic
era. Renowned artist Maestro di Monte Martello painted the walls
of the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Stelle. Cagliese churches
also contain the work of Giovanni Santi, father of the Renaissance
"Thanks to the money given by the office
of the region, the paintings were restored to their natural richness,
and we are able to see and enjoy them,” said Papi.
After the earthquake, frescoes by the late
Gothic painter Mello da Gubbio were discovered in the vault of the
church of San Francesco. Whitewashing had covered them in the 18th
century. The frescos contained nine lunettes and crowns of the 13th
century Gothic vault and portraits of the 12 apostles with angels
Once the frescoes were discovered and recognized
as the work of Mello da Gubbio, the office of the region was contacted,
and money was granted to restore the paintings.
duomo has many frescoes that were restored after
duomo had also been damaged in an earthquake in 1781. The
dome near the main entrance was attached to the wall, and this collapsed
as a result of the first earthquake and remained unstable as a result.
During the 1781 earthquake, Bartolucci explained,
74 people were killed. They were buried underneath the church, and
every year the people of Cagli celebrate and honor those who died.
The town was extremely upset by the tragedy, but the ceremony of
remembrance continues to be a way they can come together to remember
After the 1997 earthquake, the dome again
separated from the wall, but it did not fall and there were no visible
signs of damage.
"Before the earthquake hit, there was
shaking going on for about a year,” said Felici Giovanni,
a Cagli resident. “One night I thought the earthquake was
going to erupt so I slept in the car, but it ended up that nothing
Cagli was lucky compared to other towns during
the most recent major earthquake. Assisi, about 53 kilometers from
Cagli, had the most impact. At least 10 people were killed, and
many buildings and pieces of artwork were damaged.
The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is
located at the birthplace of St. Francis, making it an important
landmark for Christians. The first part of the earthquake appeared
at 2:35 a.m., and when the second part of it hit several hours later,
four people who were looking at the damage from the first shocks
were killed. Some pieces of art were also damaged including one
work associated with the school of Giotto.
In Cagli, the duomo remained closed
for renovations for seven years, forcing long-time parishoners to
attend services at other churches.
Although they were frustrated by the fact that they could not attend
their church, the community was grateful that no one was hurt.
"I was very upset, but everyone thanked
God that everyone was okay,” said Bartolucci.
On Palm Sunday 2004, the doors of the basilica
cathedral opened once again to greet the smiling faces of the Cagliese
"It was easy to see that Cagli had its
church back again,” said Bartolucci.
projects in Cagli may restore damage caused by the earthquake.
earthquake caused visible damage to many buildings in Cagli.