Left wall: Last supper
Left wall: Annunciation
Left wall: Crucifixion
detail of Last Judgement
detail of Crucifixion
In the territory of Torri,
at a place called Vescovio, lie the ruins of the ancient Roman town of
Forum Novum, founded probably during the 2nd century BC. The settlement
was built on an alluvial terrace near the confluence of two rivers, and
at the crossroads of two secondary roads which Iinked the new centre both
to the Via Flaminia and the Via Salaria.
Municipal status seems to bave been granted to Forum Novum only in the
Augustan period. The inscriptions are our most valuable source of information
for the political and social life of the town.
The gods worshipped in the area included Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Isis,
Serapis and Harpocrates, Mercury, Venus, who had a temple dedicated to
her, Fortuna, Vacuna, Lares and Di Penates.
There are numerous dedications to emperors, such as Gordian III, or to
the relatives of emperors, such as Drusus and Germanicus. The inscriptions
also mention an aqueduct, built by a private citizen, which supplied both
a fountain and the baths.
Numerous traces of the ancient town can still be seen today. Excavations
carried out some decades ago have brought to light a large part of the
monumental public area of the settIement, including the forum, the basilica,
some shops, and a temple, while along the roads one can still see the
remains of funerary monuments and the arches of an aqueduct.
The cathedral of the Sabina is of particular interest. The building, which
has been restored several times, still preserves the main lines and pIan
of the Romanesque construction of the early 12th century. In the walIs
of the bell tower one can see numerous fragments of reused early medieval
sculpture, dating between the end of the 8th and the beginning of the
9th century, along with other material such as inscriptions, marble slabs,
brick and tile, taken from the ruins of the Roman city.
The interior, with its single nave, has not suffered from later alterations
or rebuilding, largely as a result of the removal of the bishopric to
the town of Magliano Sabino in 1495 and the consequent loss of importance
of the church of Vescovio. The cycle of frescoes along the walIs of the
nave is spectacular. Carried out in the early fourteenth century by masters
of the school of Cavalli, originally thirty two scenes were illustrated.
The right wall depicts scenes from the Old Testament, although unfortunately
today some of the paintings are almost indecipherable. The left wall illustrates
scenes from the New Testament, although again these have now in part vanished.
The fresco on the interior of the facade is a magnificent Last Judgement.
This was a popular subject in church decoration along the Tiber valley,
for example, in the frescoes of Santa Maria in Trasponte at Fiano.
In the altars of the transept and the pulpit, slabs of the early medieval
choir have been reused. These are beautifully worked with interlaced decoration
and Christian symbols. On the marble top of the main altar one can see
the signatures of the many faithful.
The oratory crypt is well preserved. It was probably constructed in the
10th century when the church was rebuilt following the fire caused by
the Saracens. The semi-annular ambulatory leads to a short straight corridor
and to the subterranean altar, which is Iinked to the upper altar by the
fenestella confessionis. The top of the underground altar consists of
a reused marble slab with an inscription of the early 15th century.
On the hill above the church one can still see the impressive ruins of
the castrum domini episcopi, this was abandoned and restored several times
during the Middle Ages, the last time at the end of the 13th century,
before being transformed into an Augustinian convent.