The name “Chigiano” is reported in numerous parchment documents from the XV century, but undoubtedly the village was founded much earlier than that. In actuality, at the end of the IX century the Benedictine monks chose the valleys of the area of Mount San Vicino which were both fertile and secluded. There, they developed their lives of prayer and work. The Abbey of St. Maria in Valfucina (IX century) was a living centre of culture with its important library. The Monastery of St. Clemente (IX century) as well as the Monastery of Roti (XI century) fueled a thick net of agricultural and pastoral activity that brought forth many small communities of homes, scattered around the territory.

The Riola Valley, now called Valdiola, formed by the Musone River that starts at its spring just a few kilometres from Chigiano, set up an important road for communication between the monastic centres and linked the entire area with the plain of Matelica.

San Severino Theatre

San Severino Theatre

The surrounding territory, organized into villas and castles, gravitated throughout the XV century toward the city of San Severino, participating in the turbulent events of that municipality that followed one after another by various oppressors, like the Smeducci and the Sforza, and often served as the stage for bloody battles aimed at conquering one of the various castles around.

Chigiano’s history was not characterized only by wartime events. Despite the fact that Chigiano was a small rural community, its churches were decorated by important painters of the time, especially in the XV and XVI centuries. Attested to by the continuous presence of the Salimbeni school with its masters of “International Gothic,” various prestigious painters were active during that time in San Severino. Some such painters were Lorenzo D’Alessandro who died in 1515, Bernardino di Mariotto from Perugia, who worked in San Severino until 1521, and brothers Giovangentile and Antonio, who were sons of D’Alessandro. Art critics refer to these very brothers when attributing many of the frescoes present in the churches of St. Maria of the Riola Valley, St. Gregorio, and the old parish church of St. Savino. These churches were constructed with the help and collaboration of the so-called “Comacini masters,” skilled Lombard architects and masons who, since the 1300s, had established a large community within the San Severino area. The remains of a fresco from the 1500s are still visible in one of the external niches of the Paladini Palace.

The Paladini family, show up in various documents from the second half of the 1600s as being of great importance and possessing a large amount of property.

Their home, which dominates the village with its monumental size and is still today called “The Palace,” was decorated with frescoes and paintings, and, on the vaulting in the salon, the family’s coat of arms was clearly visible.

Starting in 1586, the year in which San Severino was elevated to the ranking of “city” by Pope Sisto V, life in Chigiano went along relatively smoothly, intermixing with that of the nearby villages. Everyday living went forward with the slow pace of an economy that was almost exclusively agricultural and pastoral, while religious presence provided the townspeople with a good sense of rhythm and movement.

A map of Catasto Gregoriano from the first years of the 1800s, shows, in a very detailed manner, the urban structure made up of narrow streets and groups of tiny houses. This layout has remained almost entirely unaltered even up until today.

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