In 990 AD Sigeric, Bishop of Canterbury, went to Rome to receive the Pope the "pallium", symbol of the dignity of archbishop. Upon his return, he recorded in his diary the 80 stages ("submansiones") walked in as many days to get back from Rome to England. His diary ("Itinerarium Sigerici") is the first document of what would later be called the "Via Francigena", ie one of the three most important pilgrimage routes of the European Middle Ages (the two other are the ones to Santiago de Compostela and to Jerusalem ).
The twentieth "submansio" from Rome is called by Sigeric "Sce Mary Glan," that is precisely the current "Santa Maria a Chianni".
The church, with the hostel attached, goes back not to the ancient, almost mythical age of Sigeric; however, it dates back to the thirteenth century, and is striking for its simple Romanesque style.
Unfortunately, as we walked there we could see only the outside of the church. The interior, though in a holiday day, then of great tourist flow, could not be visited: the church was closed.
The most annoying side is that the staff of the hostel for the pilgrims, which recently was opened next to the church, claimed not be able to open up the church itself, because it was not within their competence, but within competence of the tourist office of the Gambassi City Council.
I believe that the financial and organizational work sustained to organize the hostel (as result of a collaboration between the bishop and the Municipality) is frustrated and to some extent undermined by this exasperated formalism ("not up to me to open the church").
I think it's clear then that my poor score is not about the church - an outstanding monument of the Middle Ages - but the way it is managed.
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