Fara in Sabina
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Farfa's economic importance becomes clear if one remembers that in the third decade of the
Ninth Century under Abbot Ingoaldo, the Abbey possessed a merchant ship thai was exempt
from duties in the ports of the Carolingian Empire. At this time too the monastery was
expanded to its maximum size.
The main church, dedicated to the Virgin, was given a second apse dedicated to the Savior
with a tabernacle all of onyx flanked by two towers. During these years the Abbey Treasury
contained, among other things, a casket of pure gold adorned with jewels (a gift of
Charlemagne), a gold cross more than a meter long encrusted with jewels, two golden
crosses containing relics of the True Cross,
fourteen silver chalices, two silver and golden crowns and four golden seals.
The decline of the Carolingian Empire and the Saracen invasions proved fatal for the Abbey.
The Abbot Peter I and his soldiers resisted for seven years; in the end he divided the monks
and the treasure into three parts and abandoned Farfa. The Abbey was captured and set on
fire. The first of the three groups of monks founded Santa Vittoria di Matenano in the
Marches; the secon group was
slaughtered by the Saracens at Rieti, and the third, which took refuge in Rome, returned to
Farfa once the danger was past. They were led by Ratfredo who completed the church in 913
after becoming abbot. It was however nothing but a flash in the pan; once imperial protection
was gone territorial unity
began to weaken. Several Roman families (the Crescenzi-Ottaviani and Stefaniani) settled in
many of the Abbey's territories and became de facto masters there. The decline was such
that there were three abbots at the same time within the Abbey fighting with one another.
The.last flowering of Farfa was due to the work of Abbot Hugo I (997 - 1038) and it is not a
coincidence that this was
accomplished at the same time that the dynasty of the Ottos made new attempts to
strengthen the empire. In 999 the reform of Cluny was put into effect. With Berardo I (1047 -
1089) Farfa again became an imperial abbey and in the fight over the investiture it took sides
with Henry V against the popes. As a result, in 1097 the monks decided for safety's sake to
move their abbey up to Mount
Acuziano where stili today, there are impressive remains of the construction they began and
never finished. During this period vast territories belonged to Farfa.