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The Marche: alchemy and mystery of the the "Villa del Balì"

Inviato da il in Borghi - Villages
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b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_6710.JPGMy friends, welcome to My Own Italy to discover Italy with my personal touch!

Today our travel is to the Marche Region: after visiting the wonderful Frasassi Caves let's go to the small village of Saltara, in the province of Pesaro and Urbino. We shall visit a very special ancient residence and a museum: I'm talking about the Villa del Balì.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_6714.JPG Saltara, which probably derives its name from "Saltarius" - the forester - , is situated on the River Metauro. The historic center of Saltara corresponds almost entirely with the walled village and, as for other towns in the area,  we don't have an exact date of construction of the walls; they are dated around the middle of the twelfth century.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_Saltara6Zoom.jpg

 Within the walls, accessed through an impressive staircase, there are the so-called covered markets provided along the perimeter wall and portico structure, the Malatesta Tower and the Palace, now the Town Hall, and the Church of St. Lucia.

The Castle, contended between the Malatesta and Montefeltro families, was home to important markets and fairs.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_6524.JPG The Villa del Balì is located in S. Martino, where is possible to dominate both Saltara and the neighboring countries. In this place in the ancient times was built a temple dedicated to the god Mars.

Over time, it was easy the transition from "Mars" to "Martin": historical evidences speak about a chapel dedicated to St. Martin since 1165.

 

 b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_6519.JPG The Villa was restored in 1564 by Vincenzo Negusanti, Bishop of Dalmatia and dean of the Council of Trent, and it became a place for his studies, rest and meditation.

He was expert in astronomy and he retired to the Villa until his death just to observe the stars from the four towers of the Villa, built specifically for this purpose but now they don't longer exist.

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_6499.JPG The Villa was sold in 1667 to the Count Gastone Marcolini, Grand Prior Balì (Balì, from which the villa takes its name, is the highest rank in the ancient orders of chivalry) of the Order of Knights of St. Stephen, Pope and Martyr, and remained in family ownership until 1852 Marcolini, to become the property of the Society of Jesus and then of the city of Fano.

  b2ap3_thumbnail_Immagine6.jpg The Count Marcolini made ​​a crypt under the lawn in front of the villa. The crypt is composed of four crosses of Lorraine, arranged to form four right angles. It's very smooth: one of the arms extends to descend into a square room placed at 7 m depth: the CRYPT. In the vault the ceiling is painted with a white and red huge cross.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Immagine11.jpg The bricks of the floor are also arranged to form a cross, and in its center there is a well-blind. An apse and two shrines are located in front of the entrance. The whole structure was used for initiations into knightly orders, many of which are rooted in cryptic traditions. Unfortunately, today the crypt is down and remains closed to the public. 

 

 b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_6474.JPG Today the the eighteenth-century Villa del Balì is home to a modern center devoted to science. As a "science center", the Museo del Balì renews an old research tradition.

According to the scientific tradition of the Villa, the activities of the Museum of Balì are distinguished by their specific character, and make mention of the part of science which is most neglected because wrongly considered to be the most difficult: physics, mathematics, astronomy and astrophysics.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_6501.JPG Inside the exhibition hall there is a planetarium. Thanks to a system of digital interface with reflector telescope (diameter 40 cm) placed in a dome in the park of the Villa, it is also possible to observe the night sky live from one room of the museum.

  b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_6517.JPG

 

 

 For me it was a very special experience: I also had the opportunity to stay at Villa San Martino Country House and it was so charming and relaxing. Ideal for your holidays!

Leisure with me, this is my tourism
!

 

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