Un portale abruzzese dimenticato

Author: Francesco Gandolfo

A forgotten portal in Abruzzo

In relatively recent times a medieval portal, which, according to the local tradition, originates from the Benedictine abbey of S. Salvatore a Maiella, was remounted in the 17th century church of S. Antonio at Rapino. The abbey went through a period of great prosperity between the 11th and 13th century; afterwards it declined quite rapidly, so as to already be in ruins at the end of the 16th century. The portal, as it has been rediscovered, is not in its original form, because, in recomposing the decoration of the archivolt, fragments deriving from different parts were joined together. The stylistic motives shown in these fragments and in the capitals of the jambs allow dating the portal in a historical moment subsequent to reconstruction of the nearby abbey of S. Clemente at Casauria, from which a few decorations are taken. The motive that regulates the forms approaches however to that on the construction site of the equally nearby Cistercian abbey of S. Maria d’Arabona, which leads to dating the portal to the third or fourth decade of the 13th century. Although the reconstruction of its forms remains in some aspects hypothetical, its evidence stands as a significant moment of transition in the direction that leads to the typical forms of the portal in Abruzzo in the 14th century, as they will be defined in the construction of the cathedral of Atri.