Belforte del Chienti

belforte del chienti - polyptych
On Friday Bill, Elizabeth and I went to the south of the Marche, to a small town called Belforte del Chienti. We went to see a Polyptych in the church of St. Eustachio. This  is, apparently, the largest polyptych in Europe. It was painted in 1468 by Giovanni Boccati and remains complete in its original frame. (When Napoleon controlled Italy he had wanted to take it back to France but the local priest had taken the painting to pieces and had hidden it in the roof of the church.)

From San Giorgio we went by motorway to Citanova Marche and then travelled inland to Belforte which is just beyond Tolentino. It is a beautiful little village (below left). The church is in the small central piazza and is open in the mornings and afternoons. When we went in we couldn’t find the light switch to illuminate the painting. However, in the main square there is a small tourist office/proloco which was open. (Afterwards I noticed a notice on the door giving various telephone numbers of people who will open the church if the tourist office is closd). The young man on duty came across, switched on the light and then explained who the various figures in the painting were. Having travelled an hour and a half to get to the church I am glad to report that it was well worth the effort.

In the town square there is also a bar which was unfortunately closed as we had arrived on the feast day of Saint Eustachio. However, although we didn’t get a cup of coffee the guide from tourist office had mentioned in passing that coming to the church on the saints feast day got rid of all sins.

Leaving Belforte we travelled back towards Citanova Marche and stopped off on route to see the church at San Claudio al Chienti (bottom right) dating from the 8th century. The church is now in the grounds of a large hotel and the whole complex has been well restored. This meant that after looking round the church we went into the cafe/bar on the site and enjoyed a prosecco.

Nearby there are some other churches worth seeing but we, however, decided to go to the Tod’s outlet store where you can buy Tods shoes at slightly cheaper prices than normal. They also have a nice cafe attached to the shop and although we didn’t buy any shoes we did have a pleasant lunch.

The plan for the afternoon was to go to the garden of Villa Buonaccorsi which is near Potenza Picena, a town north of Citanova Marche. Unfortunately the Villa has been bought for reconstruction as luxury appartments and it means that the gardens cannot be seen. This was disappointing but we consoled ourselves by carrying onto Potenza Picena for a walk round the town and a very nice ice cream in the town square.

belfonte del chienti polypych san claudio al chienti

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