The City and the Houses. Regulations, functions and spaces (XII- XIV century)

International Study Conference
Soriano nel Cimino (Viterbo) 7-10 April 2021
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International Study Conference

The City and the Houses. Regulations, functions and spaces (XII- XIV century)

Soriano nel Cimino (Viterbo) 7-10 April 2021

or online:
ID: 920 9189 3330

In the previous five conferences called ‘The City and the Houses’ (Città della Pieve, 1990; Città della Pieve, 1992; Città della Pieve, 1996; Viterbo-Vetralla 2004; Orte 2013), edited by Elisabetta De Minicis and Enrico Guidoni, a systematic survey of the various, predominantly regional, areas was presented in order to obtain an important snapshot of original existing structures on Italian territory, thus initiating a dialogue between different disciplines such as Medieval Archaeology, the History of Urban Planning and of Architecture.

In medieval towns, especially in those newly founded or in expanding hamlets, with significant relationships with their respective rural areas, the house is an expression of the methods used for its actual construction in line with – or in open contrast to – established practices or precise regulations. The outcome of construction practices or regulations (often detectable in masonry) expresses the attention paid to adjacent houses, to public streets, and to both internal and external private spaces. Every European region favours construction methods and knowledge, relationships with their contexts or pre-existing ones, in accordance with traditions that reflect not only the consolidation of longterm processes but also influences and interactions with the areas that Europe liaised with in the Middle Ages.

Through this new meeting of scholars from various Italian and foreign universities, the proposal is to exchange ideas on the similarities or differences in the mechanisms underlying the construction of houses, their planning, and the ways they are used.


Wednesday 7 April

3pm: Institutional greetings:
Stefano Ubertini, Dean of Tuscia University
Saverio Ricci, Director of the DISTU Department at Tuscia University
Paul Arthur, President of the Society of Italian Medieval Archaeologists
Margherita Eichberg, SABAP Superintendant for the Province of Viterbo and south Etruria
Fabio Menicacci, Mayor of Soriano nel Cimino

4pm: Beginning of the day’s lectures
Coordinated by:
Alexandra Chavarria Arnau (Padova University), Michele Nucciotti (Florence University)

Elisabetta De Minicis (formerly of Tuscia University), Opening Speech

Claudia Bonardi (formerly of Turin Polytechnic), Egle Micheletto (formerly Piedmont SABAP Superintendant), New towns (villenove) in western Piedmont. Layering and design, from combinations of groups of neighbours to unitary structures.

The moat enclosing the villanova from its foundation was an instrument of defence and also the boundary of the area in which certain exemptions or privileges were granted to those who accepted the pre-established associated conditions and contributed to public expenses. Whatever the final goals of the founders, the development prospects of the new settlement imposed drastic changes on the life patterns of those who were forced to abandon their village, as well as those who chose the gamble of new horizons.
Here we propose a cultural reflection on the creation and administrative policies of the new ruling classes, through the decisions made to overcome the tensions caused by the process of assimilation of different demographic groups, in the reflections brought about on architecture, on the arrangement of public spaces, and on the preservation or otherwise of pre-existing structures.
The comparison between archaeological data, archival documentary sources and materials raises questions about some of the issues that have emerged in the key cases of Cherasco, Fossano and other minor towns in the sub-Alpine area: the continuity of settlement prior to the creation of the new ‘town’ in the late Middle Ages, and sometimes also in the early Middle Ages and prehistory; the tensions within each group to preserve the identifying memory of its own ‘sacredness’ and history. On the other hand, the expressions of a society inclined towards the experiences of active entrepreneurship, open to risk, to compromise and to the assertion of their new powers in the decoration of their houses, in the legitimacy of distinctive behaviour, but also with a tendency to reshape the rural villanova according to the urban models of the time, with palaces, porticoed streets and community amenities.

Armand Baeriswyl (Bildungs- und Kulturdirektion des Kantons Bern), ‘Areae’ and ‘casalia’ – the parcelling of Zaehringian foundation towns from an archaeological perspective.

The Dukes of Zaehringen were one of the noble families in the Holy Roman Empire who pursued a territorialisation policy by founding towns at an early date, shortly before 1100. Town charter documents have survived – although only in later versions – which mention plot sizes of 100 x 50 or 100 x 60 feet. Since other written sources on the practice of founding towns are lacking, these mentions have gained great importance for older historical research. It has used this information to formulate hypotheses about the parcelling and development of foundations and has hypothesised an actual “Zaehringian foundation plan” which the dukes are said to have used for all their foundation towns. These hypotheses will be briefly presented in the first part of the lecture.
Archaeological research in many Zaehringian foundation towns, including Bern, Burgdorf and Fribourg in Switzerland and Freiburg im Breisgau, Villingen and Neuenburg am Rhein in Germany, has addressed this question of the foundation plan. And the findings of archaeology are clear: there are no such schemes attributable to a noble dynasty. In the second part of the lecture, the main issues with these hypotheses will be presented. Archaeological investigations and building research, not only in Zaehringen towns, but also in founding towns of other dynasties (including the Hohenstaufen, Guelph, Wittelsbach, but also smaller dynasties) throughout the former Roman-Germanic Empire have shown that there was indeed urban planning, not only in founding towns, but also in later town expansions. In the third and final part of the lecture, some of these tangible planning elements in the archaeological evidence will be presented.

Marco Cadinu (Cagliari University), Construction and reconstruction of foundations and walls in medieval houses in Sardinia according to statutes and documents (13th-14th centuries).

In the most documented contexts, such as the cities of Sassari, Cagliari and Iglesias, the Statutes and other documentary sources provide descriptions that make it possible to define features whose knowledge is necessary to correctly address both building renovation projects and the appropriate preliminary analysis of elevations or foundations.
Comparisons with contemporary documentation from other areas, similar to each other because of the homogeneity of their historical relationships, allow us to hypothesise about more complex scenarios, even beyond the actual building forms that have survived to the present day. In particular, by comparing documentation and specific cases, it becomes possible to consider the time frames or stages of construction of the urban house; to recognise architectural or systemic features, or building materials indicated in statutory or regulatory documentation.
With regard to the boundary wall between neighbouring properties, which is subject to greater regulatory focus, we recognise elevated built forms and ground positions, such as the model of its foundation, the exclusive use or co-ownership arrangements, regulations for its elevation or reconstruction, and the elimination of windows in the event of elevation. Facades, on the dividing line between public and private space, are also subject to building regulations.
This represents a useful set of data for the field recognition of structural details and the drafting of historical, urban and stratigraphic analyses.

Aurora Cagnana (Liguria SABAP), Urban spaces in medieval Genoa between public regulations and customary law (12th and 13th centuries).

After the birth of the Comune (1100) and the mercantile boom in the Mediterranean, Genoa reached a surface area of about 50 hectares, quadrupling the size of the Roman and early medieval city.
In the new area protected by the 1150-1160 walls, the Libri Jurium Reipubblice Januensis imposed strict rules aimed at respecting public spaces: i.e. the city streets, the three markets, and the harbour landing.
Private settlements, on the other hand, were organised differently, based on family groups and affiliations that converged in clans (or lineages) which occupied well-defined urban plots, featuring the domus magna of the progenitor, the houses of the other families, one or more towers and a curia, where the homines of the lineage converged to make economic, political or even military decisions against other rival clans.
A network of private churches, reserved only for relatives and affiliates, enjoyed autonomy even in relation to the ecclesiastical hierarchy of cathedrals, parish churches and urban parishes.

Bastian Lefebvre (Université de Toulouse Le Mirail), Building houses against the city walls in South-West France. A process amidst constraints and opportunities.

This paper proposes to explore how city walls can be used to support medieval houses in the Middle Ages (XII-XV centuries) in south-western France. Frequently, we see that houses are built against the walls of the city whereas they are in fact a priori military structures that belong to the lord or the community. In some cities, there are even regulations that prohibit building against or near the walls, for security reasons. The topic of this paper concerns not only how the houses are placed against the walls but also how they affect each other. For this, it is necessary to analyse the materials, the architecture, the function, and the property of the houses, as well as the chronology of the constructions, the methods of implementation (planned or spontaneous), the advantages and the constraints represented by the construction of these houses.
Through several examples, the paper first proposes to see how medieval houses may have been built against the walls. It then attempts to look at the cases of towns where the walls do not exist as such, but where they are formed by an alignment of houses. Finally, through the detailed study of a series of houses in Moissac (Tarn-et-Garonne), the objective is to examine precisely how the relationship between the house and city wall can change over time and the involvement in terms of context and town planning. More broadly, this topic offers the possibility to consider the status of these walls and the conversation between defense and the growth of medieval towns.

6pm: Discussion

Thursday 8 April

3pm: Beginning of the day’s lectures

Coordinated by:
Marco Cadinu (Cagliari University), Paul Arthur (Salento University)

Jordi Sagrera, Josep Burch (Girona University), Construction, urban characteristics and rules in medieval Girona.

In the Middle Ages Girona was a town located in the northeast of Catalonia, halfway between Barcelona and Perpinyà, and next to the river Onyar. It was still closed within the ancient Roman walls until the eleventh century. However, in the twelfth century some new buildings were built outside of these boundaries. This urban expansion practically surrounded the town. This process led to the creation of new districts, some of which were located for the first time on the other side of the river. The peak was in the middle of the fourteenth century when Girona multiplied its inhabitants by five, arriving at a population of 9,000.
This process was managed according to the order of a feudal town. Public authority and lordship were basically distributed between the counts-kings and the ecclesiastical institutions, which were led principally by the bishop. Although sometimes these bodies argued, they managed to organise and agree on urban planning, which was adapted to previous developments.
The counts-kings, who had continual financial problems, sold their allodiums progressively but they kept the fiscal authority of markets and public spaces in streets, squares as well as authority over river courses. Through bailiffs, they regulated the occupation of the public spaces and kept an eye on the quality of private construction. At the end of the thirteenth century, the municipality was born and began acquiring, under royal protection, many of the bailiff’s functions.
Private owners, who parcelled and sold lands, promoted many new buildings. The ad construendo domos contracts specified the conditions of future construction and regulated the architectural relationship between buildings, light, drainage as well as the construction of vaults or galleries built over streets.

Federica Matteoni (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart), Medieval civil construction in east Lombardy: observations on building techniques between influences and peculiarities.

The hills and valleys in the province of Bergamo preserve a number of buildings from the Middle Ages, which have been systematically studied in recent years through detailed censuses of historical buildings. Bergamo’s building scene is characterised almost exclusively by the use of stone, laid in different ways depending on the lithotypes used and technical know-how: by analysing the processing of the material, its laying and surface finishes, it is possible to define specific construction particularities used for civil and rural housing in the territory. These observations become instrumental in defining the relationship between these rural areas and the urban centre, a link which is also reflected in the living culture, although distinctive elements characterising the different areas then developed.
Of particular interest, in fact, are the construction methods of the houses in the villages overlooking Lake Iseo, which defines the natural and political border between Bergamo and Brescia: this area is particularly interesting in that medieval civil construction is the result of cultural and technological exchanges between the two shores, through a somewhat fluid dialogue between different living cultures.
Homes are therefore a key vantage point in attempting to define the motivations behind the choices of form, materials and structural types, drawing attention not only to the builders – i.e. the craftsmen who represented an important part in the production cycle – but also to the clients, defined as those who occupied the homes, thus tracing back to everyday aspects of society.

Daniele Sacco, Pamela Carpani (Carlo Bo University in Urbino), Examples of late medieval residential buildings in the Marche region. A counterpoint between towns and castles.

The contribution will focus on existing residential buildings in the Marche territory, a line of research that has not been sufficiently explored in the mid-Adriatic region.
From the point of view of method, the topic will be addressed in a contrapuntal way (punctus contra punctum), combining several coeval and, at first sight, independent late-medieval contexts: town tower-houses, tower-houses in rural groups without the rank of civitas, and the forms and types of minor buildings.
The Marche territory features a vast and mountainous countryside with numerous fortified towns and very few (often “weak”) cities. Therefore, in order to obtain a general, decisive picture about forms, distribution of building types, chronologies, and similarities or differences between north and south Marche, it is essential to broaden the scope of comparisons to include rural areas, which still today have an abundance of examples in this regard.
Lastly, as a necessary in-depth study, some town statutes will be examined to ascertain to what extent building regulations were actually complied with and whether what remains of residential building actually reflects the regulatory will of town authorities.

Alexandra Chavarria Arnau (Padova University), Regulations, functions and spaces in the houses of the late Middle Ages in north-eastern Italy.

The Statutes of Padua prior to 1236 and those of Cittadella of the XIV century dedicate some chapters to regulations concerning the ‘wall and wood masters’ involved in building. Information is provided therein on the materials used, the organization of the construction sites, the costs and the buildings with the related amenities and annexes that can be compared with the architecture that is still preserved today.
On the basis of new research, this contribution proposes a comparison between the regional capital – in the process of being modernised from the second half of the XI century – and Cittadella founded by the Padovani in 1220, opposite Castelfranco, which was built by the Trevigiani in 1195 with a notably different design.

Urszula Sowina: (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw), Medieval urban houses and water in Polish Lands (14th-15th centuries).

Starting from the XIII century, medieval towns in Central Europe, and hence also in Polish lands, were chartered upon German law (the law of Magdeburg, law of Lübeck, law of Culm/Chełmno). This meant that their legal and spatial organization was based upon the principles of these laws. Their legal organization indicated that a town was granted legal autonomy. Spatial organization was reflected in a uniform, well-measured plan of the town intra muros with a separate area for the market place, with a regular street network and city-blocks. The latter included settlement parcels/plots of land with specific modular measurements. The front house, built on a limited parcel was the main element of a burgher’s property and material reflection of his wealth and living conditions. Together with the entire plot it was a place for the professional activities of its inhabitants. The Author presents the water supply and sewage disposal systems in the everyday life of the burghers. An analysis of written sources (mainly town court-books) and archaeological evidence showed that in the XIV-XV centuries this equipment was situated not inside the front house but behind it – on the hinter-yard, next to the rear-buildings used for economic activity. As for water supply, the dug wells on the plot or on the border between two plots were mostly connected to beer-production facilities. The conduits branching off from the town water supply system reached water storage reservoirs in the yard –usually for brewing beer. In the yards of burghers’ parcels existed a network of wastewater canals. Thanks to the cooperation between neighbours, it became a well-developed and integrated system.

Andrea Augenti, Andrea Fiorini, Federico Zoni, (Bologna University) Domus, domucella, casamentum. Residential construction in Emilia-Romagna (8th-14th centuries) between written and archaeological sources.

The tradition of studies concerning residential architecture in Emilia-Romagna is fairly substantial, but an up-to-date overview of the evolution and transformations of architectural types and building techniques between the early and late Middle Ages is noticeably absent. The aim of this paper is to provide an initial systematic overview of what is known, based both on published sources (written and archaeological evidence) and some current ongoing investigations.
Bologna is an exceptional case, both for the quality and quantity of the evidence still available. Many researchers have analysed its medieval buildings (mainly those dating back to the XII and XIII centuries), with particular attention paid to its porticoes. We intend to dedicate our attention to the study of carpentry, and in particular to the comparisons between its material remnants and the contents of the medieval statutes of the craftsmen guilds (master masons, wood masters and others). We will also take into consideration the topography of the buildings: their position within the city might explain some peculiarities, such as the possible re-use of building materials taken from ancient structures.
We will then extend our view to the regional district and analyse municipal laws concerning the dimensions and shape of building materials. Data is available from 10 cities or so and spans from the XIII to the XVI centuries. In this regard, many issues would appear to be of interest, among which functions, recipients, as well as particular aspects of laws. Some municipal laws mention stone moulds, which were used for the production of bricks and tiles. Were these laws actually respected in the cities and their districts? When travelling workers were called, did they bring different building measurement systems with them? In this paper we will try to answer these and other questions.

Michele Nucciotti (Florence University), Maria Ange Causarano (Padova University), Residential construction in central-eastern Tuscany: spaces, forms and socio-settlement interactions.

This contribution focuses on medieval residential building in Tuscany, especially in the central-eastern region. The main towns and cities considered in the study include Florence (primarily), Siena and Arezzo, between the XIII and XIV centuries, in the period of their establishment and the administrative and managerial organisation of their respective contadi.
The following points will be taken into consideration: the relationship between building and urban planning, the chronology and distribution of building types, and the impact of relevant medieval legislation. Our discussion will be structured on the basis of material evidence through the sampling of specific urban areas and comparisons with the architecture of ‘new towns’ between the XII and XIV centuries in rural Tuscany.
We will also focus on the evaluation of how and to what extent medieval building heritage does (or does not) reflect the social structure of the communities settled in the towns under investigation. For this purpose, in addition to still-standing buildings, evidence of residential building from excavation will be considered. Finally, the transfer of models and workers from the city to rural areas will be evaluated, as well as possible interactions between the different technical environments of the builders.

Chiara Marcotulli, Silvia Leporatti (Florence University), Models of urban development between the 12th and 14th centuries: the case studies of Pistoia and Prato compared to major communal cities in Tuscany.

The advancement of research in the field of the archaeology of elevations and its application to the historical centres of many towns with a continuity of life in Tuscany has made new data available that is useful for the proposal of an initial comparison between some of the main towns in medieval Tuscany. Residential building in its forms, in its variations over time, and in its relationship with urban space is used as an indicator of general phenomena; in particular, that of the urban transformations between the XII and XIV centuries in the framework of the gradual emergence of municipal magistrates. The case studies of the two Tuscan cities of Pistoia and Prato – one of ancient origin, the other developed from a castrum – will be compared with the major towns in this part of the region (Pisa, Lucca, and Volterra) through the analysis of minor buildings, with particular attention to the road network and to public and private spaces in the proximity. The distribution of different building typologies may allow in some cases for the observation of the incidence of special urban planning initiatives – both private and public – such as the planning of blocks with terraced houses. In this case, where the relationship between direct sources and archival data allows it, focus will be placed on the social groups involved, with particular reference to the relationship between landowners and holders of useful domain, tenants and forms of zoning (social/functional).

6pm: Discussion

Friday 9 April

3pm: Beginning of the day’s speeches

Coordinated by:
Elisabetta De Minicis (Tuscia University), Rosa Fiorillo (Salerno University)

José Miguel Remolina Seivane (Architect), Study of medieval tower-houses in the Cantabrian regions of northern Spain. Typology and the relationship with the structures of villas (12th-15th centuries).

Santillana del Mar boasts an interesting collection of old buildings which, although transformed in the XVI to XVIII centuries, still preserve numerous aspects of medieval construction.
In the lower part of the town is the monastery of Santa Juliana, around which the street still known today as La Carrera was developed from the XII century onwards, supported by an existing road. In the upper area, several noble towers were built in the XIV century, giving rise to a new neighbourhood where the main square is located today. The Torre del merino and the Torre de Don Borja are large, solid stone towers, with an interior wooden structure, which exemplify the adaptation to the urban fabric of a typology that originated in the rural environment.
This contribution focuses on the analysis of a row of 8 terraced houses, with a wide variety of construction techniques. At the northern end, on the remnants of a XIV century tower house, two palace-houses were built in the XVI-XVIII centuries, preserving several openings of medieval origin on the rear façade. Immediately to the south, a series of terraced houses on narrow plots preserve traces of their original construction. A detailed reading of the layout as well as the analysis of the partitions and the lines of constructive discontinuity allow for a first hypothesis of the creation of these buildings, in a process of transition from simple wooden houses to more complex stone buildings which is characteristic of many medieval towns in the north of the Iberian Peninsula.

Luisa Trinidade (Coimbra University), Building from scratch in medieval Portugal: cities and houses. Materials, programmes and regulations.

This paper focuses on common Portuguese urban housing in the late Medieval Ages, comparing, from the scarce sources available, constructive practices, from materials to structural features, and specific, related legislation. The main question is to establish whether, from the central/local powers actions and strong differences can be established regarding ex novo situations, both new towns and neighbourhoods built from scratch in consolidated cities. In other words, the core question is to understand whether, in a time when urban ordinances (already) frequently attempted to regulate housing construction and its relation with the adjoining public space, it is possible to perceive a different attitude towards new and executed programmes, where rules could be easily applied from the beginning. Strictly related to this topic lies another equally relevant one with regards new towns and districts: was there, parallel to the urban layout, the establishment of an “architecture programme” in the meaning of a deliberately chosen type imposed to all incoming inhabitants? The response to both issues will be tackled from the thorough analysis of specific case studies, such as Vila Nova de Santa Catarina, a whole new residential area in Lisbon, ordered by King João I [r. 1385-1433] at the beginning of the 15th century.

Giancarlo Pastura (Tuscia University), Medieval housing in the towns of northern Lazio and southern Umbria.

The main urban settlements of northern Lazio and southern Umbria largely maintain a municipal tradition dating back to the Roman era but they also differ in terms of the geological features of the soils that host them, as well as the different political and cultural influences they were subject to from the early Middle Ages onwards. While this latter aspect emerges clearly in the architectural forms, which do not exclude instances of osmosis in the bordering areas, the geological substratum represents a strongly influential factor both in construction techniques – moulded based on available material – and in the use and design of spaces. In particular, while in northern Lazio the existence of “soft rock” allowed for the excavation of large underground spaces for housing, in southern Umbria, where excavation was hindered by the limestone strata, different strategies were adopted for the design of spaces. Regulations, in particular statutes, place particular emphasis on these aspects, highlighting substantial differences but also common points of contact in the urban planning of towns in northern Lazio and southern Umbria.

Giuseppe Romagnoli (Tuscia University), Medieval towns in northern Lazio (12th-15th centuries). Urban development and spatial organisation.

From the XI century onwards, the cities of the Patrimony of Saint Peter experienced remarkable economic and demographic development, reflected in the considerable growth in the areas enclosed by city walls. The archaeological documentation relating to three major towns in northern Lazio – Viterbo, Corneto and Tuscania (and to Ferento near Viterbo, recently examined by the University of Tuscia) – shows the pace of growth in housing and the various ways in which the municipal authorities planned the construction of new residential districts, especially during the XII and the first half of the XIII century. The combination of archaeological data and documentary evidence – in particular urban planning regulations contained in the XIII-century statutes of Viterbo and the XV-century statutes of Tuscania – also sheds light on the ways in which the orderly growth of the already densely-populated areas of the city was regulated, through measures aimed both at defining the relationship between public and private spaces and, more generally, at safeguarding urban decoration and hygiene, through the control of water and waste disposal systems produced by private housing.

Nicoletta Giannini (University of Tor Vergata, Rome), Between Rome and Lazio. The dissemination and use of architectural models and building techniques between the 12th and 14th centuries.

This contribution attempts to propose a reading of some aspects of building identified in the study of medieval housing in Rome for the ERC Project titled “Petrifying Wealth”. By analysing building types and techniques over a long period of time (V-XV centuries), the research allowed for the identification of the exchange of aesthetic ideas, technological know-how and mostly of building materials with the immediate surrounding area but also with other areas in Lazio. This also allowed for the definition, through the same elements, of areas of change and/or influence and the recognition of the introduction of new models and techniques as well as building technology, often coming from afar. Alongside particularly important case studies, this contribution is therefore a critical addition to the debate on building networks, the circulation of workforces and on the meaning associated with the frequent use of certain architectural models outside of local traditions, as well as on the role of political and social players in this exchange of ideas and workforce circulation, in light of the socio-economic context and the interweaving of relationships and connections made between Rome and Lazio.

Francesca Romana Stasolla (University of Sapienza, Rome), Methods of building, forms and ways of living in the Lazio limestone region.

The geological composition of the Lazio area features limestone areas in the south-eastern part of the region, which have been extensively exploited for building purposes for a very long time. It is precisely this continuity of use – together with the utilized forms which made extensive use of poorly finished sketches and barely hewn materials – that makes it so difficult to identify chronologies, the work of craftsmen and cultural areas. The existence of strong, especially ecclesiastic and monastic commissioning bodies is typical of the territory. As we will attempt to highlight, they demonstrated their ability to characterise construction according to specific criteria, above all in the differentiation between forms and functions of both urban and rural architectural systems, in the particular context of the middle and final centuries of the Middle Ages.

Maria Carla Somma (Gabriele D’Annunzio University in Chieti): Building methods and ways of living along the central Apennines, some examples between the Regnum and the Church State using limestone.

In the context of the lands between the Rieti area and present-day Abruzzo, long contested by the Regnum and the Papal States in the late Middle Ages, the aim here is to provide an initial organic definition of the features of residential construction, typified from a material point of view by the widespread use of limestone, found only rarely in distinctly urban contexts but much more extensively in the castle towns that were the real focal points of demographic settlement. At least for the major towns (Rieti, L’Aquila, Sulmona, Atri), an attempt will be made to highlight the existence of specific typologies and, at the same time, to highlight common aspects between different settlement areas. A major limitation to the possibility of reconstructing medieval housing in these territories comes from the high seismic risk, which has had a significant recurring impact, leading to the loss or substantial impairment of its historical buildings, which is only partly supplemented by scattered and still largely unpublished written documentation.

6pm: Discussion

Saturday 10 April

9am: Beginning of the day’s lectures

Coordinated by:
Giancarlo Pastura, Giuseppe Romagnoli (Tuscia University)

Nicola Busino (“Luigi Vanvitelli” Campania University), Rosa Fiorillo (Salerno University), Peculiarities of residential construction between the 12th and 14th centuries in Campania and Basilicata.

Research over the last ten years on a number of cities in southern Italy has contributed a great deal to our knowledge of the architectural typologies in use between the XII and XIV-XV centuries.
In Benevento and Capua, studies have shown positive perspectives with regard to urban residential nuclei in the late Middle Ages. In particular, Capua offers some interesting monumental testimonies, only partly known, but which are notable for their articulated architectural dynamics, as in the case of Palazzo Fieramosca, a residential complex built during the XIII century and enlarged over time.
In addition to similar cases of building schemes of a certain importance, the research carried out in Benevento also offered interesting findings for ‘minor’ building cells (common residential houses, ligneae houses and fabritae houses), known about from the XI century onwards also through written sources.
By means of a number of case studies, it has thus been ascertained that the examination of the residential buildings of Capua and Benevento represents, alongside the more well-known civil and religious building clusters, a significant feature for the definition of the medieval urban landscape of the two towns.
In Salerno, Amalfi and Ravello, where the use of stone completely replaced the use of wood, prestigious buildings were built using techniques which, brought in by French workers who had arrived in the wake of the Norman conquerors, were capable of outlining vertical volumes which changed the face of the towns. A recent study on the ‘Palazzo Terracena’ in Salerno has made it possible, among other things, to understand and better define the technique and chronology of the use of polychrome inlay, in use between the XII and XIV centuries and all too often dismissed as ‘Norman’. In Basilicata, the particularities of the territory and cultural mixtures have resulted in singular and unusual forms of living that are well preserved in sites such as Castelmezzano, Tursi and Tricarico, where the Islamic presence strongly influenced the characterisation of the building landscape.

Beatrice Roncella (Napoli SABAP), Topography and construction in the coastal area of Naples between the 12th and 14th centuries: the case of the excavation of Piazza Nicola Amore.

The excavation for the construction of the Duomo station of the Naples metro system in Piazza N. Amore has made it possible to investigate an area located on the coastal strip of the city adjacent to the plateau on which the Neapolis settlement and the Greek, Byzantine and 11th-century city walls stood. In the Hellenistic period, the area was occupied by an extra-urban sanctuary on which, in the I century A.D., a complex was built to host the Isolimpic Games. The area was later the site of a necropolis (V-IX century), which was abandoned in the X century following a major swamp-ing phenomenon. A new structured settlement occurred in the middle of the XII century with the setting up of an artisan workshop for the production of glazed pottery, which was abandoned at the beginning of the following century when a paved area was created with a public fountain on whose walls an image of the city seen from the sea was engraved. At the end of the XIII century, as part of a more extensive urban planning scheme that redefined the city’s seafront after it had become the capital of the Angevin kingdom, two large buildings intended for the storage of goods, framed by an articulated road network, were built in the area under investigation, enclosed by a new city wall running along the coast. In the second half of the XIV century, the large internal spaces of the buildings were divided into several rooms and equipped with handmade items attesting to their functional transformation to a residential character and flanked by two new buildings, forming part of an urban nucleus where mercantile activities were concentrated.

Vittoria Carsana (Napoli SABAP), Angevin-era building around Castel Nuovo: archaeological evidence from the Piazza Municipio excavations.

The construction of the royal palace-fortress of Castel Nuovo by Charles I of Anjou in 1279 in the area that is now Piazza Municipio led to the creation of a new district outside the western city walls of Naples, as a natural and direct consequence of the presence of the royal residence. Documentary sources show that Largo del Castello and the nearby Largo delle Corregge were the site for various offices, prestigious residences, and religious and charitable institutions. Archaeological investigations carried out for the construction of the Municipio station of the Naples metro system have revealed remnants of buildings that document a large section of the Angevin settlement around Castel Nuovo, hitherto known only through documentary evidence. Building development began at the end of the XIII century, coinciding with the construction of Castel Nuovo, and continued with various refurbishments until the beginning of the XV century. To the west, the buildings are bordered by a fortification built in the second half/at end of the XIII century, probably connected to the castle, evidenced by a curtain wall with a tower.
On the slopes of the castle, the remnants of two overlapping building complexes have come to light, with rooms on different levels, connected by ramps and stairs which exploited and adapted to the slope of the hill on whose summit stood the royal fortress. Both buildings are attributed to the noble Del Balzo family based on the remains of paintings on the walls.
Concurrently, on the northern side of the modern square, a large sector of the Angevin settlement developed, divided into two almost uniform blocks separated by roads. The recovered buildings, consisting of individual residential units organised around common courtyards, recall the fondaco building type. The new district rose in the vicinity of the city harbour, which was also renovated in the Angevin period with the construction of the new quay by Charles II at the beginning of the XIV century.

Rosario Chimirri (Calabria University), Houses and villages in Calabria. Various cultures of medieval living between codes and community customs.

The villages of Calabria, which sprang up mainly in the hills during the slow process of urbanisation in the late Middle Ages, reflect different settlement criteria in the structuring of houses, both in terms of space and material structure, and of the micro-environment, joined by the community size of the neighbourhood.
These settlements – from minor settlements to provincial capitals – are particularly influenced by Byzantine culture, with strigae buildings that adapt to the steepness of the site, and by Semitic culture, based on the important role played by the family clan in the structuring of alleys and courtyards; all of this while respecting ancient customs and regulations, but not excluding cases of blending of identities, in an inseparable and continuous relationship with nature, not only from a practical perspective but also in an evocative, sacred way.
This can still be seen in the urban features of the connecting fabric, which has remained practically unchanged, and in the abandoned buildings, which paradoxically are better preserved, thus allowing us to see the building methods and skills of ancient tradition, handed down even in post-seismic adjustments.

Roberta Giuliani (Aldo Moro University, Bari), Residential buildings in the urban centres of central-northern Puglia between archaeological documents and written sources (12th-14th cent.): material characteristics, types, functions

Central-northern Puglia currently represents a context that lends itself particularly well to a combined reading of archaeological sources and written documents, useful for the outlining of the features of urban residential architecture in the late Middle Ages, between the persistence of traditional models and the emergence of new building types. This also makes it possible to grasp aspects related to the distribution of spaces, the approaches to furnishings and construction materials, and to assess the possible value of these features as a marker of social change. This contribution aims to present current knowledge on the subject in the indicated territory, comparing data from archaeological excavations carried out in urban contexts (Canosa, Ordona, Salapia, Siponto, Montecorvino, Fiorentino), from geophysical surveys, from studies, albeit still limited, on elevations (Bari, Bisceglie), from the analysis of historical cartography and written sources.

Stefania Alfarano (Salento University), Late medieval residential building in Terra d’Otranto: materials, construction techniques and architectural design

In recent years the Laboratory of Medieval Archaeology of University of Salento, directed by P. Arthur, has carried out a systematic survey of medieval archaeological evidence in the so-called historical-geographical area Terra d’Otranto in the southern part of Puglia. However, the data collected so far does not provide an exhaustive overview of late medieval housing in the region and does not allow for a reconstruction of the transformations and evolution of the building process between the XII and XIV centuries. This problem mainly concerns residential buildings, often neglected by archaeological research that has mainly focused on the analysis of religious contexts or fortification systems. Another important factor is the actual structure of settlement patterns in this period: a network of rural villages (casalia) composed of scattered houses arranged without any form of planning, with wide open spaces around several buildings. Furthermore, the few buildings found so far show, as already seen in the early medieval period, the widespread use of perishable materials to build residential houses that could be easily moved, demolished or modified according to the needs of the owner.
The process of transition from rural domestic architecture, characterized by the use of perishable materials and with a low consumption of economic resources, to a more permanent form of housing is evident starting from the XIII century with the foundation of new towns (eg Cesarea Augusta-La Strea, Roca Vecchia). A radical change took place between the first half of the XV and the mid-XVI century when the Salento region was the subject of a total transformation in the settlement pattern with the abandonment of open villages and the creation of planned, fortified towns, the so-called agrotowns (or errae). In many of these cases, it is the regular layout of blocks that determined the types of terraced house that were built in lots as the population grew. In the cases analysed, the change in materials used for building, the organization of domestic spaces and the adoption of new types of housing structures would appear to be closely connected to the planning of new urban settlements.

Anna Sereni (Kore University, Enna), Structures, infrastructures and urban spaces in medieval Sicily (10th-15th cent.)

The historical complexity of medieval Sicily requires a brief overview of the Islamic domination of the island (predating the chronological timeframe of the Conference) in order to understand the subsequent transformations in building techniques and urban spaces. Some examples will be given to compare and contrast towns more recently established with outlying and rural areas, in addition to a comparison between coastal and inland areas, in order to thus propose possible strategies for further (necessarily interdisciplinary) investigations. These, in turn, will regard the importation of external craftsmen and family groups linked to peoples from north of the Alps and their respective assimilation with Islamic and Hebrew communities throughout the Middle Ages, which ultimately reconfigured the urban spaces of many towns.

Michele Nucciotti, Elisa Pruno (Florence University), Houses and cities in the Islamic Mediterranean (8th-14th centuries).

The contribution will offer an updated overview of urban civil architectures in the Islamic Mediterranean with a focus on Bilad al Sham between the VIII and XIV centuries, from the early Islamic period to the Mamluk era.
In particular, contexts from Ayla, Amman (the Philadelphia of the Roman era), Petra, Shawbak, Hesban and Acri, for which the results of recent, extensive archaeological investigations are available, will be discussed. Comparisons will be drawn with evidence of contemporary domestic structures from metropolitan sites such as Fustat/Cairo, between the VIII and XIV cc., and with the Aghlabid / Fatimid sites of the IX-XI cc. in Sicily. It will focus in particular on the technological-material, typological, distributive and compositional-urbanistic aspects of residential structures in order to identify and specify their cellular-genetic function with respect to the urban habitat and, where possible, to highlight relationships and interference between domestic, collective and the public use of the urban space.

1pm: Discussion
Paul Arthur (Salento University). Closing speech


Scientific Organising Committee, by region
Alejandra Chavarria Arnau (Padova University), Michele Nucciotti (Firenze University), Marco Cadinu (Cagliari University), Rosa Fiorillo (Salerno University), Paul Arthur (Salento University), Elisabetta De Minicis, Giancarlo Pastura, Giuseppe Romagnoli (Tuscia University)

Public promoting bodies:
Associazione storia della città
Comune di Soriano nel Cimino
Museo Civico dell’agro Cimino
Università degli Studi di Cagliari
Università degli Studi Di Firenze
Università degli Studi di Padova
Università degli Studi del Salento
Università degli Studi di Salerno
Università degli Studi della Tuscia – Dipartimento DISTU

With the patronage of:
the Rome Superintendant’s Office for Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscaping, Viterbo Province and South Etruria,
SAMI (Society of Italian Medieval Archaeologists),
Carivit Foundation,
Chestnut Festival Public Body in Soriano nel Cimino

The City and the Houses. Regulations, functions and spaces (XII- XIV century)