Along the ancient route of the Via Claudio-Valeria, we come across one of the most remarkable pieces of architecture in Abruzzo, the Benedictine Abbey of San Clemente a Casauria.
Its impressive Romanesque-Gothic architecture attests to the economic and political power of the context in which it was constructed. The abbey was built near the Roman pagus (rural subdivision) of Interpromio, with a temple to which a ponderarium was attached; some think that the name Casáuria derives from Casa Aurea, whence the name of the temple, while others think it was Casa Urii, a place dedicated to Urius, an epithet of Jupiter, bringer of winds, that gave the temple its name.
Emperor Ludwig II erected this monastery in 871, on the Insula de Piscaria, a place where there was a small island in the River Pescara at the time. The façade with its cross-vaulted portico, as well as the interior with its liturgical furnishings, combine simple, austere spaces and richly carved decoration.
The abbey’s ground plan is divided into a nave and two aisles separated by ogival arches on pillars, leading to a raised transept with a single semi-circular apse. The crypt is the oldest part of the building and was created from parts stripped from nearby Roman constructions. The finely carved items of religious furnishings are of extreme importance for the history of medieval Abruzzi art: the pulpit and the Paschal candelabrum along the principal nave and the ciborium at the bottom of the apse.
The white Maiella stone, of which the abbey is built, illuminates the space without ever fully reflecting the light that hits it and passes through it. Its ductile and dusty qualities, as well as its resistance to contact with the air, also fascinated Ettore Spalletti, who found here that intense welcoming feeling that distinguishes his artworks.