Bringing Back to Life Frescoes from the 15th and 16th centuries
The origins of the church of Santa Maria a Castro are unknown, but the area was dedicated to worship from the earliest times for its beauty and solemnity.
The first documented evidence of its existence dates back to 1430, when the first nave on the left was built.
In 1599 the church was donated to the Dominican monks. A monastery was then built to house the monks and an altar in the church was built to honor St. Dominic.
The five naves of the current church were built in several stages, as was the ceiling with its vaults and barrel.
As part of the Progetto Praiano NaturArte the frescoes that decorated the naves of the original and the current church were restored, along with a fresco in one of the cell upstairs and the decorated cabinet, or stipo, on the left aisle of the current church.
Madonna with Child, before restoration
Continued ingress of water from the roof and the ground had caused seepage which carried down salts from the building mortar. In places this caused discoloration and parts of the frescoes to bubble.
Only procedures and materials that were tested and not harmful were used.
Madonna with Child, after restoration
The goals were to repair cracks and structural damage that threatened the stability of the plaster, to counteract salination of areas where water had leaked through by removing crystalline accretions of salt that had whitened these areas and finally to restore sympathetically those areas where deterioration of one sort or another had obliterated details or caused loss of integrity to the whole.
Burying of Jesus, before restoration
As part of the restoration process, cracks were filled and parts were painted in a color matching the original.
The project was supervised by Antonio De Rosa, principal of the architectural firm from Naples with the same name, who recorded and photographed every step of the operation.
Burying of Jesus, after restoration
The restoration revealed colors and details that had not been seen for centuries.