One look, and you will undoubtedly agree. Note, however, that the ceiling you are looking at in the church is a copy of the original, which was removed to preserve its condition over time and is now exhibited at the local museum. We would advise you to visit both the church and the museum, in order to appreciate the original location as well as the detail of the art work. You will not be disappointed.
As to why this precious and valuable work was commissioned, it appears that the entire ceiling is an offering to Our Lady of the Rosary by all the inhabitants and craftsmen of Castelli: 800 ceramic tiles depicting the lives of saints, apotropaic animals to protect from evil, floral and geometric motifs, and more. A truly unique and spectacular work of art.
Slowly descending on the panoramic ring road of our Valley (SP 491), you will follow the Mavone river to find the church of San Giovanni ad Insulam (also known as San Giovanni Ad Mavonis). It is situated on a hill, at a historical important crossroads, with a convenient parking lot by the roadside.
The origins of this church date back to about 1000 A.D., with different parts built at different times in the following centuries. It used to be part of an abbey, with some traces of walls and arches still visible. The church rises above a crypt, which is open to visitors.
The church facade is decorated with splendid bas-reliefs of imaginary animals, and the small stone altar of the crypt inside takes the most imaginative souls into a prelude to an English gothic novel, with a fairytale view of the surrounding mountains.
Let yourself be drawn in by this fascinating story of stone, and imagine the weddings of important people that were celebrated here because of the breathtaking panorama (most recently that of Jarno Trulli, a Formula 1 driver originally from this area).
Continuing on the road along the river, follow the sign for Ronzano on your right, where you will find one of the most beautiful churches in Abruzzo: Santa Maria di Ronzano.
It was bought by the noble Acquaviva family (who were also in large part responsible for builing the towns of Atri and Giulianova), as the personal domain of the Count of Atri, around 1669. Taking in the view of the nearby mountains and its beautiful location in the valley, it is easy to understand why.
This Romanesque church, imposing and austere, was part of an abbey, where an annual fair was, and still is held on August 15th. This tradition started in the Middle Ages when business was done in the shadow of the church, and has become almost millenary by now.
The historic and romantic setting of this church has always made it a popular wedding venue, offering the beauty of its interior, pleasantly cool temperatures in summer, and a panorama background for unforgettable photographs of a memorable day.
So come and visit this extraordinary church with its sunny facade, and fall in love!