SANTA MARIA DELLA PESTE CHURCH
HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
It was built to make a vow after the plague of 1493 or 1501, at the expense, as evidenced by the inscription on the pavement, of Paolo Mazzatosta and of tanner Martino grain: PAULU MAZZATOSTA- MARTINU CONSIATOR DE GRANO F. and is painted by Paolo Nicolai as indicated in the inscription: “(PAU)LUS (NI)COLAI PINSIT”. The temple, now a Memorial to the Fallen, is a lovely octagonal construction, a creation of the architecture of Bramante. It was built as a vow after the plague of 1943 or of 1501, at the expense, as evidenced by the inscription on the pavement, of Paolo Mazzatosta and of tanner Martino grain: PAULU MAZZATOSTA- MARTINU CONSIATOR DE GRANO F. and a panting of Paolo Nicolai indicates in the inscription: “(PAU)LUS (NI)COLAI PINSIT”. One excellent floor covering the octagonal temple area is in the Renaissance style and consists of small square tiles of 9cm. from the side. The colors of the tiles are mostly cobalt blue and orange and all of them have a simple blue frame. There are paintings that are adorned differently: from floral and geometric motifs, to animals like snails, hares, dolphins and different species of birds; to grotesque profiles of gnomes, with strange bodies, one of which with long donkey ears, one with a yellow tongue; there are heads of ladies and knights with caricature profiles. The Piccolomini coat of arms, the five moons placed on the cross, present on a tile, would lead us to consider that the floor was excavated during the pontificate of PIO III in 1503 which lasted only a few months. Besides the inscriptions indicating the commissioners and the artist, there are other types: VOBIA PAX- PAX DOMO VIC…MARIA, and other fragments that emphasize the devotional intention in regard to Mary, whom was attributed to having given at the end of the plague. As a whole this floor looks very lively, as the artist used varied elements to reach the effect that he wanted to obtain, but it has nothing to do with the simple majestic and harmonic Mazzatosta elements of the chapel, these stretch with agile and skilful hand experience of cooking safe and reveal the remarkable capacity of the ceramic artist. One aspect that unites the two stylistic floors in the chapel of Mazzatosta and the shrine of Santa Maria of the Plague, is the realization in the humorous vein caricatures, portraits and profiles of humans, the sign very much used in elementary Viterbo vase paintings of the fifteenth century and perhaps closely linked to the spirit of gaiety that citizenship perpetuated in the Viterbo festivals, games and popular shows such as the chronicler Niccolò della Tuccia tells us and attested by the Municipal Statues. One stylistic element that differentiates the two floors is present not only in the important graphic works, but in the same execution quality painting and firing of the tiles that make them up, diversity leads us to hypothesize that is the work of two different artisans. It is, however, the works of great stature, well able to characterize the environment in which the socio-cultural origin and location is found: Viterbo Renaissance.