Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Aquilina Sancia queen of Monteserico

Welcome to our blog, Genzano it story
and this post, Aquilina Sancia queen of Monteserico
Aquilina Sancia queen of Monteserico

This is the Moneserico castle, where Aquilina Sancia was living about the beginning of the 14th century, it has a story of its own that we are going to tell, in our future posts.

Aquilina Sancia queen of Monteserico
This is how the modern Genzano came into being;
The story and folklore of Genzano says that it was Aquilina Sancia, who happened to own the castle of Monteserico at the time when Genzano needed help to restart again, we say restart again because there wasn’t a real Genzano town when this happened; so, this princess in the very early 14 century she helped the town restart. Aquilina Sancia some people say is a Spanish Princes, other people say that this Aquilina Sancia had to do something with the Sforza family and she was a queen. But, anyhow this castle of Monteserico that we have been talking about above, at that time happened to be owned by this rich and powerful family and queen named ‘Aquilina Sancia’ who most likely used this castle as a resort only; because today this castle is only a small square building, it is a solid coarse fortress built on a treeless roundish hill with extensive views of the countryside,
Which at that time were mostly grazing lands, with sheep shepherds and some other livestock, and perhaps some wheat farming in a small way? So it would have been ideal for a queen to get away from it all, and still feel safe in that small fortress. (Nowadays that grazing land which is several thousand of Hectares is top arable land, used mainly to grow durum wheat, and is one of the best lands for this purpose.)
Anyhow, this Aquilina Sancia Queen of Monteserico, while she was living in this castle, she liked very much to travel in her stagecoach or on horseback between Monteserico castle and then would be new Genzano of those times, Genzano was then only a small town but she liked it, so she helped it to become it a real town. The folklore story goes that she used a secret tunnel, or a secret way between these two places, as no one could understand how she could manage to travel without being seen, because, while she was thought to be in Monteserico castle, suddenly she would appear in Genzano without seeing her coming or going. She must have been very rich because it is said that, she hid a treasure that to these days has not been found, and the most valuable items consist of a ‘Gold Mother Hen with Chicks’ which has been hidden somewhere in Monte-Serico castle or in the secret tunnels or there about.
To me all those hidden riches and the large secret tunnel that she could run in with her stagecoach is all folklore fantasy. But perhaps there was a small tunnel in Monteserico castle and also one in Genzano small castle that she turned into a monastery, this could allow her to come and go without being seen. In theory it could have been possible that she could drive her stagecoach in one of the caves in the chasm bellow the monastery, and from there through a supposed small tunnel find the way into the monastery above. Therefore, there may be some truth about the tunnel story, even if the rest is all folklore fantasy.
How the modern Genzano came into being
Because this queen liked Genzano, she built a monastery where the old first building was, and because of this monastery the people in the country started moving back in the new town of Genzano, this is how the modern town of Genzano was found and she was loved from building this monastery. It is said that in her old age she moved in this monastery and died there. She wrote her will in the year 1327 before she passed away.
But let us tell the story; we could only imagine that the people of those times had an exaggerated benevolent fantasy for this Queen, because of the good turn she gave to the folks of the new Genzano of those days; since one can say that she was the real founder of the new Genzano, because she financially built the first monastery and a church in Genzano called ‘L’Annunziata’ together with a rich monastery for the order of ‘The Sacred Nuns’ which has lasted up to 1905 the early part of the twentieth century. (Nowadays the church and the monastery have been restored for heritage values) But as it happened in those times, the building of the church and the monastery brought a change of life to those people that were still living in the caves of the chasm and in the fields, because; after that church building they really started to build more houses nearby their church and monastery, and slowly Genzano became a real town.
The reason why most of them left the caves and came to live into town is not clear, the reasons that they left the houses in the fields it was because there was malaria associated with this sort of living. Of course there are other reasons to leave the caves, and it could have been for reasons of safety, or perhaps they had become too many and so had overgrown the caves.
But in moving to town they set a new way of life that would split the community in two, because some of the man folks had to stay put in the chasms and in the fields to look after their flocks, and whatever else they had to do in order to earn a living, either in the caves or in the working fields; while the rest of the community would live in town. So from that time onward there were town’s people and country people belonging to the same town, which is a typical way of life of the rural towns of Southern Italy. Of this typical way of life I intend to talk about in more details, as it has affected my own way of life adversely during my younger days.
But now let me go back to the main story: After most of the cave people moved to live into town, the caves became partly empty. But by now the inhabitant of the caves new that those caves, which in the beginning had been excavated for survival could still be put to good use, because they would be ideal to make wine in them, since they have a constant cool temperature throughout the year, therefore the wine would keep well for a long time, and since then they have made their wines in those caves. Looking at the caves when I was young, the front of the caves have been closed in with a masonry wall, which has a door opening in the centre with a segmental arch above. The doors openings are fitted with a double hung oaken timber doors, which are very solid, even though they have air vent panels built in them, in order to have some ventilation in the cave as there is no other opening in the cave.
Now as I was saying before, that you would be amazed to see when they make their wines, and indeed it is an interesting thing to see, if you happen to be there at the time when they harvest their grapes and they make their wines, as the whole place, which is only a chasm with so many caves, but at that time the chasm becomes alive in its own archaic ways, see our article, Wine making the old ways  I think we have said enough in this hub, so I say see you in our next article.