Ancaiani Palace

Only the façade of Palazzo Ancaiani, the greatest ornament of the Piazza (della Libertà, editor’s note) and refurbished in 1960 after it had fallen in disuse for decades, has remained untouched. Built as a noble family’s palace in the second half of the 17th century, it testified the power of the family that originally owned Ancaiano castle and was purchasing houses in the San Benedetto quarter, for their intention was clearly to relocate to the city.

The Ancaiani family members constantly stood out in the ruling class, in the Church and in the world of culture, they got hold of lots of property in southern Umbria and for centuries they inherited the commandery of the renowned Ferentillo Abbey. Luigi Ancaiani was rector of the University of Padua in the 16th century; Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni dedicated his comedy Gl’innamorati (The Lovers) to Antonio Ancaiani; Carlo Ancaiani (1763-1842) was one of the highest ranking military officers of his era and led the Papal Army in the Battle of Faenza in 1797, where they were defeated by the French; Mario Ancaiani was the first Archbishop when Spoleto became an Archbishopric in 1821; Ludovico Ancaiani, son of Calro, built in Assisi the orphanage that still bears his name (1861). The palace used to have a whole lot of paintings, artistic objects and rare pieces of furniture – all of which are gone – was sold to the Papal Treasury in 1820; since the early 20th century to 1927 it served as residence of the local governor, hosted the head office of the Trasimeno Prefecture, of the Papal Delegation and of the Subprefecture. It is currently owned by the municipality and, aside from hosting the offices of Poste Italiane (Italian postal service provider), it hosts the headquarters of Centro Italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo, an important institution set up in 1951 […] with the aim to promote research, publications and yearly conferences concerning all facets of civilisation in the early Middle Ages.

The well-designed façade is nevertheless disproportionate in terms of distance between upper floor and cornice; the ground floor is entirely clad with stone and there are quality windows on the piano nobile (main floor), which features a balcony at the centre, supported by columns. During the recent refurbishment, a part of the façade – consisting of blocks, some of which possibly reclaimed from other structures – was left without plaster, where we can see the trace of a pilaster strip that was never completed. Inside, the beautiful staircase and harmonious arrangement of the rooms still evoke the past splendour, despite the recent renovations. The furnishings, rearranged over the past years, still feature paintings – owned by the municipality – dating back to the 16th–18th centuries.
Palazzo Ancaiani currently hosts the head offices of Poste Italiane, CISAM, Proter, Comunità Montana and Azienda di Cura, Soggiorno e Turismo*.

L. GENTILI, L.GIACCHE’, B.RAGNI, B.TOSCANO, L’Umbria, Manuali per il territorio, 2, Spoleto, Rome, 1978, pages 234-236.
* these bodies had their head offices at Palazzo Ancaiani in 1978, not at present.

A nobleman from Spoleto named Andrea Ancajani died in 1572 and was buried in the church of San Salvatore in Lauro. The family, which had the right of patronage of Ferentill Abbey and was honoured with the title of Barons of Tenaglie (a hamlet in the Tiber Valley, near Baschi), featured among its ranks a noteworthy character: colonel (later Brigadier General) Carlo Ancajani (1763-1842), who led the Papal Army in the Battle of Faenza in 1797, where they suffered defeat at the hands of the French, and was then at the helm of Castel Sant’Angelo fortress. He had married in a Gabrielli princess Rome and the family died out when his son Decio passed away in 1895.

C.PIETRANGELI, Memorie spoletine a Roma, in Spoletium, n. 15, 1971, p.19.

In November 2016, following the seismic events that rocked the region in August 2016 and subsequently too, Palazzo Anciani was declared unfit for habitation by the Order of Spoleto’s Mayor no. 400 of November 3, 2016. Fondazione CISAM therefore had to temporarily relocate its offices to Palazzo Arroni, until the Municipality of Spoleto – official owners of the building – completes the due structural consolidation works.