Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca sull’Ordine Teutonico nel Mediterraneo

Art and architecture of the Teutonic in Italy

Torre Monte Razzano

The Tower of Monterazzano near Viterbo (end of the 13th century). Photo: G. Rossi Vairo 2010

The project concerns the issue of the material remains of the presence of the Teutonic Order in Italy. Before being forced to abandon most of its Italian heritage, between 1470 and 1526, the Teutonic Order held in the Peninsula and in Sicily a large number of churches, fortified sites and farms, subject to the commanders of the provinces of “Sicily “,” Apulia “and” Lombardia ” and to the “Generalprokurator” of the Order in the papal curia. To those have to be added other possessions in South Tyrol, today still partially owned by the Teutonic Order.


DO in Italien Abb. 7

The Teutonic provinces of “Sicilia”, “Apulia” and “Lombardia” in medieval Italy (K. Toomaspoeg 2014)

The project focuses on the Teutonic possessions in Sicily, Calabria, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Lazio, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto and Friuli. Among some hundred teutonic sites, thirty are still preserved, at least in part: so, for example, the church of the Holy Trinity of La Magione in Palermo, at the castle of Margana near Vicari in Sicily, the complex of San Leonardo di Siponto in Apulia or the Tower of Monterazzano in Lazio. In other cases, the buildings have been demolished or rebuilt and it is necessary to reconstruct their past: for example, the church of the Holy Trinity of Venice or that of Santa Maria Maddalena of Padua.


San Leonardo di Siponto (K. Toomaspoeg 2005)


The church of Madonna degli Alemanni in Gela in Sicily, today demolished (Palermo, Archivio di Stato, Carte, busta 1671)

The project concerns also individual works of art: just to take two examples, the series of paintings commissioned by the Teutonic Order in Sicily around 1480, created by Tommaso de Vigilia, or the decorations of the Teutonic commandery of Torre Alemanna near Cerignola in Apulia.


A “Madonna” from the Teutonic church of Santa Maria in Bari (photo by unknown author)

The state of conservation of monuments and artworks is quite various. In some cases, they are comletely abandoned, in some others, local scholars have contributed to restore and maintain the buildings and works. We think in particular to the work carried out for years by the architect Antonello d’Ardes in San Leonardo di Siponto and the project is carried out in contact with other scholars as Baldassare Cuda (the site of Canseria near Noto Antica) or Patrizia Turrini (Teutonic hospital in Monticchiello in Tuscany).

In the first phase, the project has achieved a creation of database and a collection of images of individual sites and works of art. In the next step, currently underway, we are providing a detailed study of the material collected. In the absence of any form of public or private funding, the research has been conducted so far at their own expense by the collaborators of the project. The research work was carried out almost exclusively by art historian Giulia Rossi Vairo, collaborator of CIROTM and its results were published in a series of publications, among which:

Giulia Rossi Vairo, “La Torre di Monterazzano: presidio dell’Ordine Teutonico nel Lazio”, in Analecta Theutonica. Studies for the History of the Teutonic Order. Ed. Kristjan Toomaspoeg. Galatina: Congedo, 2014. 77-98. ISBN: 9788867660766.

Ead., “Originality and Adaptation: The Architecture of the Teutonic Order in Italy”, in M. Piana, C. Karlsson (eds.), Architecture and Archeology of the Military Orders, Ashgate, Farnham, 2014, pp. 193-218.

Ead., “Arte da Ordem Teutónica em Itália (sécs. XII-XV)”, in Ferreira Fernandes, Isabel Cristina (coord.), As Ordens Militares. Freires, Guerreiros, Cavaleiros. Actas do VI Encontro sobre Ordens Militare (10-14 de marzo de 2010), Colecç. Ordens Militares 7, vol. II, Gabinete de Estudos sobre a Ordem de Santiago, Palmela, 2012, pp. 1009-1026.

Ead., “El arte de la orden teutónica en la Sicilia aragonesa (siglos XIII-XV)”, in López-Yarto elizalde, Amelia y Rincón García, Wifredo (coords.), I Congreso Internacional Arte y Patrimonio de las Órdenes Militares de Jerusalén en España: hacia un estado de la cuestión, Centro de Estudios de la Orden del Santo Sepulcro, Asamblea Española de la Soberana Orden de Malta, Lugartenencias Españolas de la Orden de Caballería del Santo Sepulcro de Jerusalén, Zaragoza-Madrid, 2010. pp. 483-494.

Ead., “Arte e architettura dei Teutonici in Italia: prospettive di ricerca”, in L’Ordine Teutonico tra Mediterraneo e Baltico: incontri e scontri tra religioni, popoli e culture. Begegnungen und Konfrontationen zwischen Religionen, Völker und Kulturen. Atti del Convegno internazionale (Bari-Lecce-Brindisi, 14-16 settembre 2006), a cura di Hubert Houben e Kristjan Toomaspoeg, Galatina 2008 (Acta Theutonica, 5), pp. 219-236.

Ead, “Testimonianze storico-artistiche dell’Ordine Teutonico in Sicilia”, in I Teutonici tra Sicilia e Mediterraneo. Atti del Convegno Internazionale (Agrigento, 24-25 marzo 2006) a cura di Antonino Giuffrida, Hubert Houben, Kristjan Toomaspoeg, Galatina 2007 (Acta Theutonica, 4), pp. 203-228.

Some other works are currently in press or in preparation. The final goal of the project is the publication of a monograph on the subject and, simultaneously, also the organization of an exhibition on the presence of the Teutonic in Italy. So far, the project, even if – in our opinion – well set up and now close to important conclusions, did not affect neither the institutions dedicated to research funding, or private foundations, and remains based on our own enthusiasm.

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