La decorazione muraria a intarsi nell'Italia normanna: gli episodi calabresi nel contesto dei rapporti tra Ducato e Contea

Author: Margherita Tabanelli

Wall Inlay Decorations in Norman Italy: the Calabrian Examples in the Context of the Relationships between the Duchy of Apulia and the County of Sicily

External wall decorations with geometric stone inlays are a common feature of Norman architecture in Southern Italy. The first examples can be found in Salerno and in Casertavecchia around 1100. This sort of ornament spread during the 12th century across Norman Italy: initially in the Amalfi Coast and the area of Salerno, then northwards (Abruzzo and Southern Latium) and to Sicily. The discussion about the origins of Norman stone inlays is still open, although the theory of the survival of the Roman building tradition has replaced the old one of the Arabian influence. A. Cadei proposed that the adoption of this decoration form could have marked historical moments of particular close relationships between the Norman rulers and the Roman Church. The diffusion process can be better defined by the analysis of two Calabrian examples of Norman stone inlays: S. Maria del Patir in Rossano and the cathedral of Tropea. The Greek monastery of S. Maria del Patir belongs to the first half of the 12th century and shows several similarities with the contemporary artistic production of the Norman Duchy. This affinity is due to the actual submission of Northern Calabria to Duke Roger Borsa during the regency of the Norman County by the widow of Roger I, Ade­lasia del Vasto (1101-1112). The lack of examples of stone inlays in the architecture of the County could reveal that this decorative form was felt as too distinctive of the Duke’s patronage. Only several years after the royal coronation of Roger II (1130) stone inlays appeared in buildings founded under the auspices of the descendants of Count Roger I. The Sicilian re-elaborated version of the inlaid decoration influenced the cathedral of Tropea, limiting the circulation of this ornamental system between the main centers and the periphery of the Norman south.