THE SO CALLED DOMUS DI PROPERZIO (I century AC and following interventions)

The so called house of the poet Sesto Properzio, next to the southern city walls, was brought to light in the mid twentieth century. The uncovered part consists of a wide cryptoporticus and two frescoed rooms with flower and sea decorations. In these rooms, pavings of different shapes are absolutely exquisite and valuable, in opus sectile, and are among the most precious marble available at that time: from cipollino marble to greco scritto marble, to ancient yellow marble or in opus scutulatum, with a polychrome marble inlaying on a monochrome base. The wall frescoes represent vegetables and sea animals with a certain regularity: the background has different red tones. These frescoes indicate richness, taste and elegance.

The cryptoporticus that reaches for about twelve metres is decorated with candelabra and pinakès, small fresco paintings belonging to the second Pompeian style (between 20 and 40 A.C.). In one of these, Apollo is driving a cart drawn by griffins. The presence of the god of divination and an ancient inscription makes us think that the temple was “oracolare” (from the word oracle). The viridarium, a white lime surface of about 5 square meters, is painted with stylized tree branches with 96 birds of different species with folded wings.

There are some who believe that this place served as a sort of sanctuary dedicated to Properzio by his descendant Paolo Passenno, Paullus Passennus Propertius Blaesus, a poet.

This building is located under the crypt of the Church of the Vescovado, St. Maria Maggiore. It was in the square in front of this building that Saint Francis renounced all his worldly goods in the presence of his father Pietro di Bernardone, the Bishop Guido, and the noblemen and citizens of Assisi.