Unfortunately, the two small
churches of San Marcello Papa and San Biagio came to ruin, but thanks to
the generosity of the Counts Coccorano and to Giomici it was possible to
build a new church inside the walls of the castle on property conceded by
the counts; a residence for the parish priest was also constructed there.
As it's well known, the counts of
Coccorano, noblemen from the city of Gubbio, owned 1/6 of the territory of
The original church was constructed
adjacent to the circle of the antique walls; the entrance, however, was on
the side, as is still evident today, inside the castle.
In relatively recent times, the main room
of the church took on its actual rectangular form and an external façade
was created in line with the castle wall, crowned by a small bell-tower “a
vela” with two bells; on the new front a new entrance door was opened
towards the valley.
In 1937 the façade was
restored and a new bell-tower was constructed in which 4 large bells were
placed; the old bells were transferred to the Barcaccia church.
The church is dedicated to San Michele
Arcangelo; this fact is probably related to the tradition of associating
the churches that are situated on the borders of the diocese to the
protective warrior archangel of the Christian faith. In fact, Giomici is
located on the extreme border of the Gubbian territory and in front of the
cities of Assisi and Perugia, historical rivals of Gubbio.
The church contains interesting fragments of
frescoes on two of its walls; at least three of these (an annunciation, a
S. Michele Arcangelo and a S. Sebastiano) are attributed to the well-known
painter Matteo da Gualdo (1480 ca). The other frescoes are examples of
votive paintings by vagrant artists of the Umbrian school, and a
representation of S. Atanasio at the pulpit as the protective saint of
The reason for which the frescoes were
chiselled is not very clear, they were partially removed and re-covered
with paint containing lime; this deplorable intervention was probably due
to false sanitary reasons because in past epochs it was believed that wall
paintings could contain in their cracks the germs of many illnesses.
Recently these frescoes have been, as much as possible, restored.
For more than a hundred years this church
was the Vagni family's burial place. However, the custom was abolished
during the first years of 1800 when, with the promulgation of the
Napoleonic codes, it was prohibited to bury the dead inside places of
worship; a small plaque at the bottom of the left wall of the church
records this fact.
On the right wall, in the area where the
antique entrance door with a pointed arch was located and is still evident,
is located a “Madonna” on a small altar, copy of a noted work by the
Gubbian painter Ottaviano Nelli. Recently, a Roman sacrificial altar that
was found in the area of Giomici has been positioned by the left wall. The
ceiling is made of painted wooden tiles placed on a frame. A wooden chorus
balcony was constructed on the main entrance wall about 80 years ago. An
antique baptismal font in wood is situated on the right side of the present
The most interesting part however, in an
artistic profile, is the polychrome ceramic frame in majolica above the
main altar that is attributed to the famous ceramist Antonio Biagioli,
called “Il Monina”, of Gualdo Tadino. The solemn artwork in a baroque style
of unique dimensions (maximum measure cm. 280 x 450), was presumably made
under the care of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sacrament, recognized by the
Bishop of Gubbio and installed in the church of Giomici in 1601.
All this can be explained by the fact that
the antique lay society wished to embellish its places of worship with
important works of art; therefore the purchase of the opera can very well
be attributed to this Brotherhood. The idea of this artwork is very
refined, not very sacred and almost pagan. The composition is an authentic
symbol of the fertility of the earth and the fecundity of life. There is
total freedom of interpretation; observe the woman, dominated by the cross
at the summit. The image is similar to a pagan goddess. Most interesting in
a botanical sense is the presence of fruits and vegetables of the period:
lemons, pears, zucchini, cucumbers, grapes, leaves, etc.
With the exception of the loss of a bunch
of fruit on the lower right side that has been substituted by a recent
copy, the state of conservation is excellent. In conclusion, this work of
art is an exceptional testimony of what important work was produced in 1600
by the ceramic factories of Gualdo Tadino
The majolica frame encloses a modest painting of 1600 that is a copy
of the S. Michele Arcangelo by Guido Reni, the original of which is
conserved in the Vatican museums in Rome.