THE TREASURES of GENGA
is a small, carefully restored medieval town. The birthplace of Pope Leo XII of
the noble Della Genga family, the town has been awarded the Orange Flag by
Touring Club Italiano. The municipality owns the Grotte di Frasassi cave
complex (www.frasassi.com, run by
Consorzio Frasassi), inside the Gola della Rossa and Frasassi Regional Park.
origins are linked to the monastery of San Vittore and to Castello Petroso,
today’s Pierosara, when it was part of a Lombard gastaldate in the Early Middle
first mention of Genga comes in a contract dating back to 1090 in which the
abbot of San Vittore leases the castle and other properties to counts of the
Della Genga family, whose progenitor is identified as Count Alberico.
the ancient fortified entry gate it is still possible to see the guards’
defence positions. Places to visit include the churches of San Clemente and
Santa Maria Assunta, and the “Art, History, Territory” museum.
Frasassi Gorge and the Venus of Frasassi
di Frasassi is a deep, narrow gorge almost 3 km long, dug out by the Sentino
river between the limestone walls of Monte Frasassi and Monte Vallemontagnana.
into the walls of the gorge is a series of caves that have been frequented by
humans throughout prehistory and history.
Frasassi caves were not only used as temporary dwellings and shelters, but were
often frequented as places of worship from the Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age.
Cave of the Blessed Virgin of Frasassi is the site of one of the oldest and
most important manifestations of Palaeolithic art in Italy. Discovered by
chance in 2008, the Venus of Frasassi is a figurine dating from 28,000 to
20,000 years ago. Carved out of a stalactite fragment, the tiny statue is 8.7
centimetres in length and weighs just over 60 grams. The small but imposing
image is that of a female form in the unusual pose of outstretched forearms,
with the tips bent as if in prayer or making an offering.
Venus of Frasassi is held at the National Archaeological Museum of the Marche Region
in Ancona. The Genga museum has a copy of the figurine along with an
auto-stereoscopic screen on which it is displayed in 3D – the Virtual Venus.