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Chiesa Tonda (Madonna di Vico)

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The Madonna di Vico is a place of primary interest more for its history, which is a history of failures, than for its historical-artistic value. It stands on Via Flaminia, a road dotted with churches and sanctuaries, and a milestone for pilgrims heading towards Assisi.

The ‘Tonda’ or ‘Round church’ was erected in 1517 following a bloody affair, which involved Bartoloccio di Giacomo Bartolocci as lord of Spello, and his advisor Vico di Chiatti. They committed the most atrocious cruelties but were killed during a hunting outing by some natives of Assisi in 1373; Vico’s house was demolished and in its place a shrine with a Majesty was built which, over the years, was invaded by brambles and thorns. Despite this, the pilgrims continued to be very devoted to it, until it began to perform miracles and so the decision was made to build a sanctuary there but following a precise and well-planned project.

The round church is designed on a Greek cross with a quadrangular nave, from which three semi-circular apses branch off. Below the dome in the centre of the church is the high altar, which incorporated the ancient shrine with the Madonna del Latte, a 15th-century work attributed to Bartolomeo da Miranda. Overall, the ‘Chiesa Tonda’ is harmonious, bright and decorated with very few frescoes.

Credit for the project goes without doubt to the Baglioni family, then lords of Spello, attentive and highly cultured patrons who, however, went into decline when the Church took possession of the city again in 1583. Thus, as with the Baglioni and Spello, a long period of decadence began, and the end also came for the Madonna di Vico. Since 1539 everything has remained suspended in time and unchanged, probably due to the increasing importance acquired by the sanctuaries in the surroundings. The church fell into a state of neglect and was prey to thieves who stripped it of everything.

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