Marciana, ancient guardian of the Island
Article from 2010 Elbaper2 magazine.
Written by Silvestre Ferruzzi, Architect
According to tradition, Marciana would owe its name to Marcius, a common first name in ancient Roman times. Another hypothesis leads to the Latin verb marcerare, meaning to ret hemp and linen, which were customary activities on Elba. A very ancient document reporting the name of this town dates back to 1260. Marciana was not protected by bulwarks, but rather by tall, aligned dwellings at the town borders that guaranteed valid protection.
The symbol of Marciana is undoubtedly its Fortress, built between the 12th and the 13th centuries. Only later were the four angular bastions added. Nearby is the ancient Palace of Justice, also known as Pretorio Palace, where the Council of the Elderly administered justice. Nearby is the Archeological Museum which, established in 1968, displays important findings of Elba history. Then we see the Church of San Liborio and, below, the Appiano Home, the residential dwelling of the Princes from Piombino that offered a wide view and control over the sea. Worthwhile mentioning is the Garden with portico.
Next to the Appiano Home, is the Church of Saint Francis. The first floor of the Home once accommodated the Mint, where the Appiano's manufactured the coins of their Princedom. From the Mint, a narrow underground passage led to the caveau. Not far away is the Door of Donna Paola, one of the ancient access gates to the town, named after Paola Colonna, daughter of Agapito Colonna and wife of Gherardo Appiano in 1396. Next to the Door is the Church of Sant'Agapito (15th century), built in honor of Paola Colonna's father. The Church of Santa Croce (18th century) is another sacred building in Marciana, while the Church of San Frediano no longer exists. The Church of Santa Caterina, of Romanesque origins, boasts a robust structure dating back to the 16th century. Here, in 1622, Isabella Appiano, Princess of Piombino, wed Count Paolo Giordano Orsini. Near the church is the Door of Lorraine, surmounted by the Lorraine coat of arms symbolizing the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The Church of San Sebastiano (16th century), refurbished in 1798, was the seat of a Confraternity; today it is more commonly known as the Collegiata di San Sebastiano and hosts a conference center. Not far away is the former Fish Square where a traditional fish market was held in past times. We still see a small pillar that was used, according to folk tradition, as a Pillory where villains were exposed to public slander.
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