Margherita d'Austria

The Duchessa Mountains: a tribute to Margaret of Austria

The Duchessa Mountains: a beautiful name for the mountains that close in to the east, almost where Lazio borders with Abruzzo, the Valle del Salto, the Regional Nature Reserve since 1990; and also a beautiful lake with a feminine name: Duchessa Lake, one of the most attractive places in the park, one of few glacial lakes in the Apennines, fed only by rain and snow.

The panoramic view it offers is priceless, from 1788 meters of height.
Montagne della Duchessa‘ is the tribute to Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Parma, Piacenza, Leonessa and Cittaducale, by Francesco De Marchi, a military engineer in her retinue, and mountain lover to the point of being the first to ‘violate’ the top of Gran Sasso in 1573.

Margaret is certainly one of the most interesting and significant figures on the 16th-century European political scene, with excellent governing skills – inherited from Charles V whose biological daughter she was – with which, together with a strong personality and the desire to excel, she managed to impose herself in a male environment. A woman who wrote an important page for the history of the Sabine territory, in 1569, she settled in Cittaducale, a politically strategic town on the border between the Kingdom of Naples and the Papal State.

With the arrival of Margaret’s court, Cittaducale experienced profound social and economic changes, to the point that new models of life and new types of buildings were constructed. This is how the new Renaissance buildings, agile, elegant, but rigorous, came to provide a counterpoint to the robust piers of the medieval fortified buildings.

Bearing witness to this change in taste is the restructuring of the Palazzo della Comunità, used as a court residence by Margaret and transformed into a more comfortable and hospitable home, where parties and banquets were organized, but along austere lines, in keeping with the innovative trend that took hold so strongly on the artistic scene of the Farnese domains.

Also new for Sabina was the work carried out on the Palazzo del Capitano, which became the seat of the administrative offices: the two buildings are joined by a loggia, practical and functional: it makes one think that it may have been wanted by Margaret herself, to emphasize her authority as sovereign and excellent administrator.

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