Story of Supino...|
A Different Story
on the pictures to enlarge
So much has been written about
the history of Supino that it is not necessary to state the facts again. The stories,
folklore, and irrefutable events are written in books like Supino and San Cataldo
by Mons. Fausto Schietroma, Statuta Castri et Universitatis Supini by Prof. Cesare
Bianchi, and other published materials by distinguished authors. The facts are
that the houses, buildings, churches, and the ruins of a castle show testimony
that people have lived in the Supino area since ancient times. The "Cronaca
di Fossanova," which is the oldest written record describing the first destruction
of Supino by Pope Onorio II in 1127, confirms these facts. It seems that all the
evidence is based on these chronicles, because the modern writers for fear of
making mistakes, not wanting to do research, not wanting to be controversial,
simply ignored the evidences available to them. However, at this time, this is
the only information available to us. The facts of this area, whether it is called
Supino, La Rava, or whatever, will always remain the same. All that is known,
is that a village near Ferentino existed. Therefore, on a personal note, I would
like to propose to the reader a different and provocative hypotheses. I would
like to make note, that I am speaking in the first person, since the events and
research, as they unfold, are those of my own personal experience and not acquired
I want to show that the history of Supino started way before
the battle of 1127, and even before the construction of the mosaics of the Roman
Baths in Cona del Popolo, circa 50 AD.
When I was about 7 or 8 years
old, my mother often took me to Privito, which is located near the Morolense Road,
in the country, about 3 kilometers from downtown Supino.
Privito was the main
laundromat, oral newspaper, and gossip line of the town. I played in the surrounding
fields and, of course, usually ended up playing in the spring waters of Privito
and fell into the mud puddles near the fountain. My mother took my drenched clothes
to wash and borrowed a pair of pajamas from another lady.
incident was the cause of many embarrassing moments for years to come as the pajamas
belonged to her young daughter.As an adult, the daughter would give me a wink
to remind me that I wore her pajamas. When my clothes dried, I went behind some
thorn bushes to change and noticed two cone shaped structures jetting out of the
bushes. Later I often wondered why these structures were there, why the particular
shapes, and why the opening at the top, why that particular type of wall which
appeared to be very ancient in construction. In observing this area I noticed
that there were ruins near the road leading to Privito, from Via Morolense. During
the many visits I found various artifacts which lead me to believe that the area
was a vast ancient burial ground and the structures were connected somehow.
area has been used as a limestone quarry, where the townspeople got their building
material for their construction projects. The continued blasting of limestone
exposed and destroyed most of the tombs.
When my grandfather, with
the help of a cousin, built his house he acquired the limestone from this quarry.
In his extraction of the limestone, he found what he called the "L'Impero
Romano" (The Roman Empire). When I was 10 years old and just before he died
he told me about the finding. In 1957, I questioned my mother about the cousin
who found the "L'Impero Romano" because I had found another artifact,
the amphora, near Privito. An amphora is a small earthware bottle used to hold
perfumes, precious oils, or as lachrymatory. She told me who the family was and
I went to question the daughter. I asked if she knew about the "L'Impero
Romano," and as if awakening from a dream, she went directly to where it
was supposedly hidden in the wall of her house. Upon returning, she informed me
that the "L'Impero Romano" was no longer where her father had instructed
her to hide it. However, she was able to give me a detailed description of the
My grandfather's house was built in 1930 and he passed away in
1948. I went to serve in the military in 1959.
In 1986, with the publication
of the book, "Statuta Castri et Universitatis Supini," I was finally
able to see, even if only from a photograph, "L'Impero Romano," which
I had heard from my grandfather and so long searched for, (The newspaper, Il Tempo
di Frosinone, in 1963 spoke about this same statuette.) In this book, in fact,
there is a photograph of a little bronze statue that was found many years ago,
but unless it is from other findings, the explicative note is in error: it says
that the statuette was found during the excavations in the "Privito"
area. There were never excavations done in this area, only mines were blasted
quite frequently to the cries of "esso la mina." Ancient human skulls
and bones, and coins flying through the air and landing between the "ciocie"
(sort of sandals) of the scared women who were washing their clothes at Privito
and who would hang them to dry on the thorn bushes. Bushes that probably hid the
key to the history of Supino or at least the presence of a more ancient city,
maybe one of the seven that Tito Livio said to be vanished by the time of his
I returned to Supino I was shocked and enraged to find out that the protruding
walls and the ruins near Privito were cleared with dynamite and a tire reconstruction
factory was in its place. I was saddened to hear that from the rubble many coins,
glittery objects, and pieces of terracotta were strewn all over the countryside.
However no one knew of the value in this location. Fortunately some of the artifacts
were recovered and safely stored in the sacristy of Santa Maria Church and there
were 2 or 3 postal sacks of coins entrusted to the Carabinieri.
photographs in the "Il Tempo di Frosinone," October, 1963 describe the
artifacts and the statuette as being found at the excavations of the thermal baths,
which is not true at all. At that time, the journalist must have been intentionally
misinformed, because the thermal baths were discovered 4 years after the factory
was built in 1959 (1959 is when the ruins were blown up and the coins found).
However these artifacts were never seen again and their whereabouts is
This increased my curiosity even more. Going back to the narrative
of Tito Livio, where he states: "Cum Volscis inter Ferentinum atque Ecetram,
signis collatis, dimicatum; Roamanis secunda fortuna pugnae fuit;" that is
"The Romans fought the Volsci between Ferentino and Ecetra and won,"
I asked myself if there were signs to indicate the place of the battle.
was another site where traces of ancient ruins were present, where farmers had
found black and white mosaic chips, which they referred to as "horse teeth."
On Sunday,October 13, 1963 my brother-in-law and I went to dig in this area known
as Cona del Popolo. We were being considered crazy for digging in the area. But
after digging approximately 30 to 35 centimeters, about 15 inches we discovered
the first mosaic of Neptune. Later that month the rest of the complex was cleared
and it was established that this was the Thermal Baths of a probable Roman Villa.
However, I must confess that we were looking for Ecetra, destroyed by the Romans
in 370 B.C., but what we discovered was built 400 years later, between 50-100
The entire scuffle certainly stimulated the minds of some people, especially
the mayor. In some way, and which is not in relation to the discovery of the mosaics,
but in precedence, the mayor procured a large photograph of the area that was
taken by the British Royal Air Force in 1944. By looking at the photograph of
the area bounded by Via la Mola, I Colli, Via Polvino, and the Chiarella Bridge,
it was obvious that under the hay fields there were visible outlines of buildings
and roads of previous societies.
was so conclusive that the Mayor, in agreement with the Parish Priest of Santa
Maria, authorized a test dig under the two oak trees located half up the hill
in the hay field. Even though nothing conclusive was found, because they only
dug two meters deep, they found pieces of earthenware in the soil that obviously
had not been disturbed for hundreds of years.
I have always asked myself how
these pieces of terracotta got into this undisturbed ground and found the possible
answer while looking at the countryside from the wall at the side of San Pietro
As I looked down, a valley called "I Fai," is visible at
the foot of the mountain range and I realized that it was possibly formed from
a mudslide that buried everything in its path all the way down to the Sacco River.
The mud slide from the steep slopes of the "Punta di Creta Rossa " and
"Il Vincolo" formed the hills between la Via la Mola, il Farneto, and
il fosso Rufoli, at the bottom of Via Polvino burying what remained after the
destruction of the Romans.
This could also explain why Ecetra, was not mentioned
any more, once buried, it no longer existed to anyone. These assumptions appear
to be confirmed when looking at the satellite photographs taken in 1996 of the
eastern slopes of Monti Lepini, behind San Pietro Church.
point I have to few questions to ask:
1. What did
the mayor, the parish priest and the other witnesses see on that photograph that
made them send the town dependents to dig under the oaks of the field?
Is the bronze statuette, evidently of Etruscan features that came to light near
"Privito", a dream? It was dated by experts to be from the III or VI
century B.C. and made by local artisans, who were they?
3. If there
was a vast necropolis, and I am certain that some tombs are still there, could
be an indication that a fair sized city existed in the area?
votive wells "favisse" (this is what are called the old walls covered
with briars that I saw when I was a child) and the ruins are proof that there
was a city, judging from the pictures on the newspaper there were many artifacts
left over from the blast to assume so!
5. From the photograph in
the newspaper of 1963 seems that some artifacts resemble the styles of objects
found in the Etruscan tombs of Alto Lazio. Is it possible that Ecetra (Luca or
Satrico or...) was right there where it was buried unexpectedly after the destruction,
since it isn't spoken of since 370 B.C.?
6. The tombs, the votive
wells, the temple, the fountain and do not forget the anatomical findings made
of terracotta, makes one to think of a divinity introduced in the VII-VI century
B.C. in the lower Lazio by the Greeks. This divinity was the Greek god of medicine
Esculapio, who not only had the powers to heal the sick, but could also resurrect
the dead. It is logical to think (and numerous tombs that went from the fountain
towards la Via la Mola confirms it) about a considerable settlement that made
use of the cemetery from around the fourth or fifth century B.C.
All the tombs that were observed over the years were on the bank of limestone.
The ancient people, I believe, would have preferred to bury their dead under the
earth being that it was easier to dig. What made them dig the limestone, which
is much harder if it wasn't for the necessity to have their dead as near as possible
to a purifying fountain and to the temple of resurrection and health?
One of the most important observations about Ecetra not being in the vicinity
of Supino is that of Professor Bianchi that refers to the fact that the Romans,
after having destroyed Ecetra, made their way towards Artena, (As Livio says 400
years later). This implicates the fact that Ecetra was before Artena coming from
Rome, but who could know for certain that the Romans were coming from Rome along
the Via Latina? They could just as easily have come from the other side of the
mountains, where they had colonies, along the route that later became the Via
Appia, still in function today, crossing at the Palombara pass.
concluding this brief and very personal version of the history of Supino I wish
that someone, divesting himself/herself of political flavors, the main reasons
why nothing is ever done to bring Supino to a just notoriety, would embrace the
cause and bring back to light whatever has been under the soil for far too long.
What has been destroyed will never come back. Let us learn from the despicable
actions of the past, and never repeat them again.
Toronto, May 5, 2002
"STATUTA CASTRI ET UNIVERSITATIS SUPINI"
story of "The Book of Statutes"
The book "STATUTA CASTRI
ET UNIVERSITATIS SUPINI", commonly referred to as the "Libro degli Statuti"
or "The Book of Statutes" is the book of laws that regulated the village
in the years starting from 1534. It was in force until the 19th century when It
was abolished by The Vatican State.
It was refurbished in 1986-87 and in 1991
was taken back to Supino with much fanfare and celebrations.
In 1991, I searched
for it at the Town Hall and nobody could tell me were it was. After much fracas
with one of the clerks, I was told that maybe it was in the cellar. So I got it
out from were I took it originally some thirty years earlier
let us go in chronological order.
The then distinguished teacher, Professor
Mario Cerilli founded a center for reading in 1950 to 1951. The idea was to go
and read in the City Hall boardroom so that books could be exchanged and shared
During the colder nights, we would ask to turn on the heaters
and the handyman was called to light it.
With the curiosity that always distinguished
me, I went into the basements to see in what consisted the turning on of the heaters.
The handyman took from the dusty shelves a "grungy old book", ripped
some pages out, lit them and so gave fire to the boiler that he already had filled
I was impressed with how the heaters functioned and quickly started
to heat the room, but more impressed I was with the method of lighting it and
the material used as primer.
In talking with the teacher about it, we decided
to recuperate and read some books that remained in the basement. We went down
and took the three remaining books evidently from a more vast collection of "grungy
One of the books was of particular interest, since it spoke
of not to send the goats in the plain of Santa Serena during a certain time of
We realized the content of the book and its' function and it
was made available for everyone for a period of time. Eventually, the center for
reading was closed down and everyone took back his or her own books. In my collection
of books, there happened to be the "Libro degli Statuti"; one that listed
the registration of dowries/endowments, exchanges of property, legacies/bequests
and the like, was given to another student and of one more book that seemed to
be a registry of births and deaths I do not know the fate.
degli Statuti" was put between the Odyssey and the Iliad wrapped up in a
waxed cloth and preserved.
When I emigrated in 1965, the book was left behind
in Supino with my other books but eleven years later I brought them all back with
me to Canada.
The book remained preserved, but not forgotten, wrapped in
plastic in the refrigerator until 1984-85 when the then mayor Alberto Volponi,
now a senator, while visiting us "emigrants" in Toronto, and discussing
the history of Supino, revealed a distinct and profound interest in the book.
Also seen the fact that his father-in-law Professor Cesare Bianchi is an expert
in similar things. He would be able to make just cause and to translate it like
he already did for the Statuti of Ferentino.
We came to an agreement to
make photocopies to bring to Italy and in 1986, the book was published with the
translation from Latin to Italian at facing pages for all to read and understand.
as I had decided before, and now more reassured of the care that it could receive,
I had the "Libro degli Statuti" restored using, where it was missing,
the original leather used at the time it was collated, presumably in the year
It can be noted that on the original tome, now in possession of the
Supino Town Council, the leather used is the same considering the difference in
age. The same leather, ordered specially from Germany, was also used to make an
elegant case to hold the now stabilized tome. On its face in gold are the emblem
and the title.
restoration, which is to be said, costed me a lot, was made possible in part with
the financial assistance of the Supino Social and Cultural Club of Toronto and,
therefore, all the supinesi here. With the interest of the Tempo Travel Agency
and Verulanum of Mr. Daniele Boni and Mr. Pierino Piroli, the "Libro degli
Statuti" returned to the Supino community after more than 30 years of absence.
Much documentation, even photographic, exists of this event.
comment that I would like to make, is that the book of the ancient statutes was
saved from certain destruction, even by my merits, it was preserved and restored
and almost all of the costs borne by me and by my will brought back to Supino
where I had to bring it back since it was always my conviction that it belonged
I do not accept any accusation of stealing it, especially from someone
who has preferred to speak before thinking and find out the truth.
the facts speak for themselves. Even Cesare Bianchi maintains that "One of
the books, the one believed to be the original, is kept in the custody by Mr.
Ernesto Carbonelli of Supino now residing in Canada"...a very important admission
missing on other publications.
It is enough to consider that it was sufficient
to omit the fact and nobody would have known, like "L'Impero Romano"
that remains hidden from the sight and pleasure of the supinesi, but not only,
it even denies an origin more ancient, maybe more noble, and thus, makes it really
April 7th, 2002