This project involves the recuperation and redecoration of the Colle di Costa chapel in Cottanello, Rieti, Italy. The chapel, on the original road from Rome to the Rieti valley and points North, is present in 16th century town records. The project has involved removing previous restoration attempts (using Portland cement), research and design of popular local imagery and likely period styles, based on other painted remnants in the area. We use only traditional materials and pigments of true fresco painting. The project, led by William Pettit, functions as a workshop, where students learn the techniques of true fresco and contribute to the preservation of this historic structure by working on-site.The goal of the project is to provide a service to the community, in researching and recuperating historical structures, but also provide a hands-on learning experience for students, teachers, and artists.
October 2015 Workshop: West Wall, Saint Francis visit San Cataldo in 1217
Our 2015 workshop involved painting Saint Francis during his visit to Cottanello and the church of San Cataldo in 1217.
October 2014 Workshop: The Ceiling
This workshop included site visits, like to San Cataldo, to understand local styles and techniques of fresco painting. We had a visit by Cottanello Middle School students and it also involved some late night painting and some beautiful views.
Thanks for the participation of student volunteers from John Cabot University and the Umbra Institute: John, Maya, Caitlin, Rebekah, and Barbara.
Thanks to John Villarreal for the photos.
June 2013 Workshop
South Wall: Saints Paul and Andrew
Here is the finished wall of the Cottanello Fresco project, Part 1, and some documentation of the work.
Here is a link to the video.
The scene depicts Saints Paul and Andrew during the Landschneckt invasion of Cottanello in 1527.
A Madonna with Child is said to have appeared in the sky, ending the siege in favor of the Cottanellese, for which we have reserved the central niche, to be gilded (still incomplete). Saint Paul holds the sword, Saint Andrew makes the sign of the trinity. The village is seen from the southwest, from where the invaders would have approached after the sack of Rome. In the foreground are local wild plants, mint, fennel, and poppies. The saints’ physical appearance and attributes are based on period representations, particularly in icons.
We have aimed at a local style at circa 1300 to connect the early frescoes in Cottanello’s San Cataldo church to a more sophisticated style coming from Umbria centers to the North just before the time of Giotto. We assume this style to be more Byzantine than the Cavallini-style frescoes at Vescovio, to the south.
The wall involved about 50 hours of labor, about 400 kg of sand, and 150kg of slaked lime.
We are organizing workshops to complete the chapel. The west wall will depict Saint Francis on his visit to Cottanello in 1217. He is said to have tamed the wolves that were terrorizing citizens and livestock. He stayed at the church of San Cataldo, which will also be depicted. The east wall will depict the saints Cataldo and Nicola.
Many thanks to the Comune of Cottanello and Mayor Franco Pietrasanti, for their support. Special thanks to Valeria Prantera for supplying invaluable technical support, public relations, logistics, and excellent food, wine, and coffee.
William Pettit, Candice Smith Corby