Built between the 13th and 14th centuries, Villa Solomei was initially an operational base for those who worked on the reclamation of the swampland that extended to the north. In 1361, the residential settlement consisted of a palace, a casamentum, twelve domus, two casalini and the Church of San Bartolomeo. In 1391, the inhabitants began to build the castle for defensive purposes, a fortress built close to the hamlet’s main building. In the fourteenth century, the castle was probably already finished, but Solomeo continued to be called a ‘Villa’ and only in a document of 1430 is there mention of a Castrum Solomei for the first time.
The seventeenth century was a moment of flourishing development for Solomeo, which began to expand beyond the walls of the castle. By 1729 it had developed an entirely inhabited area along the south-east of the walls themselves.
The intense redevelopment undertaken by the Cucinelli family began in 1985 and, respecting the landscape and the location’s historical and architectural identity, it has recovered the ancient Renaissance splendor of the hamlet.
With the establishment of the School of Arts and Crafts in 2013, located in the spaces initially dedicated to the business and later moved to a lower location at the foot of the castle, the hamlet definitively became a Renaissance citadel dedicated to arts and culture. Today, Solomeo gravitates around the Forum of the Arts, the nerve center of an intellectual and moral awareness that promotes a model of harmonious and happy living.
The architecture of the Cucinelli Theatre, of evident Renaissance inspiration, recalls the style of the Parma and Sabbioneta theatres and inside incorporates an evocative and welcoming space.
The classic style emerges decisively both in the external aspect and in the scenic layout. The theatre is accessed via a curvilinear pronaos of Ionic order that leads to a compact colonnade; then a short passage under the gallery leads to the stalls surrounded by steps. The interior, divided between stage, audience seating area and gallery, is dominated by the elegant combination of rough oak trusses and soft and light-colored shades.
The theatre can accommodate over 200 seats between the stalls and tiers in the cavea, while the stage is 12 meters wide, 8 meters deep with a 7-meter proscenium. The acoustics are optimized through the differentiation of the soundproofing materials while a system of hatches, which covers almost the entire surface of the theatre and the stage machinery ensures maximum structural versatility and solutions for the various scenic requirements.
During the year, the Cucinelli Theatre is the site of a rich and varied program with drama, dance and music events.
Designed in 2001, the Forum of the Arts has the appearance of a humanistic citadel and consists of a constellation of spaces and architectural features dedicated to culture. In its interior, it comprises the Cucinelli Theatre, the Amphitheatre, the Philosophers’ Garden or Gymnasium and the Neohumanistic Aurelian Academy.
As in ancient Roman times, the Forum is an open space, surrounded by important buildings that are key pieces of Solomeo’s cultural identity and, above all, it is a place for socializing and the sharing of knowledge and beauty.
A harmonious natural pathway, interspersed with pergolas, fountains, hedges, cypresses and fragrant rose gardens, which act as connecting elements between one structure and another, welcoming visitors in an atmosphere of balance and spirituality.
With its characteristic oval design and surrounded by the green and hilly landscape, the amphitheatre area extends in front of the entrance to the Cucinelli Theatre. Here, during the summer, the concerts of the Villa Solomei Festival and the Settima Arte film festival are held.
Inside the Forum of the Arts, the Philosophers’ Garden, also called the Gymnasium, represents an intimate and contemplative space. Characterized by the presence of green terraces, the garden is a natural and poetic place to stop and reflect and admire the surrounding landscape.
The Church of San Bartolomeo is one of the oldest presences in the village, it was founded in the thirteenth century, rebuilt in the eighteenth century and finally enlarged in the nineteenth century. Thanks to its elevated position in the heart of the hamlet, it overlooks the entire valley with a global view.
Inside, it consists of an airy single room full of ornaments and houses a precious 18th-century organ that has been skilfully restored.
During the year, the Church hosts a number of the Villa Solomei Festival and the Canticum Novum choir concerts, as well as certain events of the ‘Musica nella Liturgia’ and Ad Mariae Laetitiam cycle.
An elegant neoclassical building houses the Aurelian Neohumanistic Academy, seat of the Brunello and Federica Cucinelli Foundation dedicated to the promotion and fostering of human talent. This bright and inspired environment also houses the Aurelian Neohumanistic Library, a venue for meetings and convivial moments.
Here, among ancient and modern books, unpublished editions and valuable volumes, we find the works of the greatest thinkers of the past, from Plato to Kant, via Marcus Aurelius, Pico della Mirandola and Giordano Bruno. The space also includes works by international and contemporary philosophers as well as classical authors of western and eastern literature.
Like all places that are part of the Forum of the Arts, the library is also a space open to all, dedicated to the promotion of culture in all its forms.
Similar to a Medici villa, the Cantina di Solomeo is built on an elevated platform and dominates the surrounding landscape made up of an extensive well-kept vineyard and agricultural fields dotted with fruit trees.
In front of the stone building façade, clearly visible from every corner of the countryside and Solomeo, the statue of Bacchus testifies to the Greek matrix of the relationship that binds man to the earth and its fruits.
The vineyard, with traditional Umbrian vines, is cultivated according to ancient techniques and has the appearance of a Renaissance garden.
The Tribute to Human Dignity is an architectural monument, a symbol and lasting testimony of Brunello Cucinelli’s activity for the benefit of humanity. The monument is an exedra of Greco-Roman inspiration created following the principles expounded by Vitruvius, Palladio and Sebastiano Serlio, with a design that respects the rules and proportions of classical architecture even in the smallest details.
The work, built with whole blocks of travertine, placed one on top of the other with the interposition of lead plates and interconnected by pins and crimps, evokes a sense of strength and solemnity. The names of the continents are written under each of the 5 arches that make up the hemicycle structure to underline the universal value of its message.
The Laic Oratory, dedicated to the memory of Don Alberto Seri, is a park of 6 hectares which extends at the bottom of the hamlets of Solomeo, and includes the stadium, sports facilities and a large garden.
It is a space open to all, a place for playing and sporting activity, but also recreation and sharing, aimed in particular at children aged 6 to 12 and their families.
Inspired by the ancient Renaissance workshops and William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement, the School of Arts and Crafts is a place of advanced training where the value of manual creativity is passed on to the younger generations.
Here techniques and notions of female modelling and tailoring, male cutting and tailoring, mending and darning are taught, as well as horticulture, gardening and masonry.
The School of Arts and Crafts values the quality and the transmission of knowledge in the desire to offer a new and contemporary impetus to the ancient skills at the heart of Italian excellence in craftsmanship.
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