Church of Madonna della Neve

Place: Roccaraso (AQ), Aremogna

Authors: Vincenzo Monaco with Carlo Mercuri; Piero Dorazio (windows)

Chronology: 1965-1969

Itineray: Architecture for the community

Use: Church

The small church dedicated to the Madonna della Neve is settled on a small relief, overlooking the wide plain of Aremogna, in Roccaraso. The building, designed by Vincenzo Monaco with the collaboration of Carlo Mercuri, belongs to that group of works carried on without Amedeo Luccichenti, in the period between the death of the latter (1963) and the death of Monaco, in 1969. The church was commissioned to the Roman architect by the parish priest Don Edmondo De Panfilis; the parish, who had understood the skiing potential of the area, chose to locate the small building directly on the sports fields, between Gravare valley and Macchione ski lift, with the intention of superimposing spiritual practice to sports practice, in the same place. As evidence of this initial intention, the church should have also provided an external altar, to perform functions in the open air, attracting the greatest number of skiers; however, the altar was never built.

The church is not separated in a nave and a bell tower, but the nave itself is deformed up to give rise to a high concrete wall that frames the bells. Looking at the building from a close perspective, giving the back to the plain of the Aremogna, it appears almost without thickness, as if it were a two-dimensional image.

Continuing to turn around the small building, it takes shape and denounces its volume. The side facing the valley of Gravare highlights the curved end of the nave and the small volume that houses the staircase leading to the sacristy; the opposite side, facing the Macchione ski lift, enhances the roof surface, a light “curtain” connected to the different heigths of the perimeter wall.

The decorative details, as well as the treatment of exposed concrete surfaces, all descend by a clear Corbusian genealogy and denounce their origin from the chapel of Notre-Dame du Haut to Ronchamp, built by the Swiss architect in 1955. The stained glass windows were commissioned to the artist Piero Dorazio. They are entrusted with the task of modulating expressively the presence of light in the inner space and introducing the presence of color on the external concrete surfaces.

Photos by Maria Vittoria Piccirillo and Manuela Raitano