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Rocca del Albornoz: Camera Pinta

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This room inside the Torre Maestra, which was probaly the studiolo of the castellan, was documented in 1444 as the “camera pinta nella torre maestra” (painted room in the Torre Maestra).   It contains a number of important frescoes (ca. 1400) that were uncovered during the recent restoration.  

A number of the frescoes depict the Tomacelli arms.  Marino Tomacelli probably commissioned the frescoes during his long period as castellan (1392-1416).    The images at ground level under the arch may represent the donor [image ?] and his wife.

The space is divided into two connected rooms by an arch, and each has a separate narrative fresco cycle.  Both of them depict secular courtly scenes, with Pagan allusions.

Frescoes in the First Room

These frescoes tell a story that  should probably be read in a clockwise direction from the dividing arch, starting with the top row.  The source for the narrative is unknown, and not all of the scenes survive.

The story seems to begin with this young lady sitting in a meadow outside a castle.

In the next scene, a crowned figure to the right looks on at a scenes of couples dancing to the music of a band.



The next five scenes seem to tell a continuous narrative:

  1. a knight, who seems to be a fugitive, sleeps by a fountain, observed by a spy (above);

  2. the spy takes his news to a castle;

  3. a second knight rides to the fountain;

  4. the two knights fight, observed by a lady who seems to have been out hunting; and

  5. the knights return to the castle, where the crowned figure awaits them.

The middle row of scenes are more difficult to interpret:

A group of knights congregate outside a castle.

A lady prays to a Pagan deity while another lady extracts the entrails of a sacrificed animal, presumably in order to read the future.

This is followed by a fight between knights, which takes place in an amphitheatre. 

The final surviving scene is too fragmentary to interpret.   It seems to show a knight watching a horse that has been spooked y an evil spirit.

Frescoes in the Second Room


These frescoes seem to belong to a single narrative cycle that probably begins with the three scenes on the back wall, in which a knight secures the services of Cupid in order to win the heart of a lady as she watches four other ladies fishing in a pond. 

Proceeding clockwise, the next scene has been ruined by the opening of a window, but it presumably showed the couple meeting. 

In the next scenes, they enjoy a game of catch across the dividing arch. 

What was presumably the final scene has been overpainted at a slightly later date.  A man looks on as a group of young women bathe in a fountain, which is set in a rocky landscape.

Read more:

A. Dunlop, “Painted Palaces”, (2009) Pennsylvania, pp 140-1

G. Benazzi, “Storie Cortesi e Cavalleresche nella ‘Camera Pinta’ della Rocca Albornoziana di Spoleto”, in:

  1. R. Mencarelli (Ed), “I Lunedì della Galleria” (1996), Perugia pp 27-58

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