The Ancient City

Founded by the Trojan Dardanus, according to the tradition transmitted by Pliny the Elder, the City of Cora appears for the first time in historical sources at the time of Tullus Ostilius (VII century BC), the third king of Rome, when the Coran Anco Publicio was appointed dictator of the Latin League.

Often cited by ancient historians in relation to the ups and downs of the clash between Rome and the Latins, during which he probably managed to preserve the status of a free city, after the dissolution of the league after the Latin War (338 BC), Cora became an ally of Rome and later municipium.

Among the archaeological remains of greater antiquity are the city walls, which with a circuit of about 2 km enclose an area of almost 22 hectares, and the main internal terraces, including that of the forum (today’s Via delle Colonne), realized in polygonal work of I manner and datable in the second half of the VI century B.C.

The additions and restorations in polygonal work of III manner or in square blocks of tuff, which affect the wall circuit, are generally assigned to the middle-republican age, when many internal terraces were added.

On the same chronological horizon is placed the Catena Bridge, which allowed the crossing of Formale Ditch, in the direction of the city of Norba; on the two shoulders in polygonal work of IV manner rests a round arch of tuff that has three rings overlapped with staggered ashlars.

Very rich and well attested, especially epigraphically, is the Koran pantheon, in which stand the Dioscuri, to whom is dedicated the largest of the city sanctuaries, Mater Matuta, Mens (perhaps venerated in the anonymous temple under the church of Sant'Oliva)Fortuna Opsequens, Concordia and Minerva, of which a precious porphyry statue was found at the end of the sixteenth century, today located in Rome, in Piazza del Campidoglio, in the central niche of the Senate Palace.

Unknown is the deity venerated in the so-called temple of Hercules on the acropolis, which has aroused so much admiration in artists, architects and travelers since the early Renaissance. The Doric temple, tetrastyle, on the podium, declared a national monument by royal decree no. 359 of 24 July 1898, still preserves intact the pronaos and the beautiful portal of the cell with dedicatory inscription.

Finally, among the most important public monuments for the late Republican era, which sees Cora actively participating in that phase of intense building activity that characterizes all the Italian cities, it should be noted the imposing building of substruction in uncertain work, that supports today’s Piazza Pozzo Dorico. It is divided into seven vaulted barrel rooms, three of which are used as cisterns and four of unknown destination; the latter, all overlooking the current Via Ninfina and separated from the rocky bank behind by a narrow gap, two still retain traces of a fountain and a tank.

 Bibliografia: D. Palombi, Cora. Bilancio storico e archeologico, in Archeologia Classica 54, 2003, pp. 197-252; G. Caratelli, Cori: le sostruzioni di piazza Pozzo Dorico, in Archeologia Classica 62, 2011, pp. 413-444

The Medieval City

Written testimonies and the archaeological evidences attributable to the late ancient and high medieval period of the settlement of Cori are Very fragmentary, probably because of the strong crisis of the cities included in the Maritime Province. It is in fact only since the XII century that it seems possible to formulate a hypothesis of the topography of the city, thanks to a considerable building presence probably attributable to the resumption of city life, also attested by written documents. The oldest settlements, according to the study of the walls, seem to be the one on the acropolis and the two inhabited near Porta Ninfina and Porta Romana, where the most conspicuous are the evidence of towers, often built in the area behind the ancient walls, defensive. There are many examples of two-storey houses connected by an internal or external staircase, called profferlo, dated to Cori between the XII and the XVI century which, together with tower-houses, alleys, squares, loggias and porches, characterize the old town center of Cori.

Very suggestive is Via del Porticato (Le Sipportica in Corese dialect), near Porta Ninfina, which was the ancient passable section above the archaic walls: in the XII-XIII century it was covered by houses and towers and then, definitively, in the XVII century from the elevation of a stately building.

At the same time as the development of civil construction there is also a revival of religious building, witnessed on the acropolis by the churches of SS. Trinità and of S. Pietro, from the Church of S. Maria della Pietà to valley and from that of S. Oliva in the median zone. Around the XIV century there are other agglomerations near Piazza Pozzo Dorico, as suggested by the walls of the houses and the church of S. Salvatore.

Medieval find of great interest is the candlestick for Easter candle, marble, belonging to the Romanesque furnishings of the Church of S. Maria della Pietà, which turns out to be the oldest known example of monumentum resurrectionis and symbolically represents the victory of Christ over evil. Of probable Beneventan-Cassinese production of about 1070-1120, it is prefigured as a model of a type widely diffused in the central-southern area between the XII and the XIV century.

The Renaissance and Modern City 

During the XVI and XVII centuries, the city of Cori experienced another important moment of artistic flourishing and construction; in fact new churches were built, restored and the old ones were completely transformed. The construction of stately buildings flourished.

The circulation of goods and riches was perhaps facilitated by the legal relations between Cori and Rome, regulated by the Municipal Statutes: the important exchange between the two centers consisted mainly in the circulation of people, such as the podestà, appointed by the Roman Senate, who went to Cori to govern and members of families more prominent that from Cori moved to Rome, often making brilliant careers in the religious field.

It was precisely the appointment of the podestà by the Roman Senate that guaranteed wide autonomy to the city of Cori and saved it from the feudal claims of a few, guaranteeing the conditions for a widespread richness.

The presence of many rich families, as is evident from the analysis of the descriptive cadastre of 1668, is reflected in the many palaces of property that are encountered walking through the streets of the historic center, dating from the XVI and XVII centuries: Palazzo Marchetti, Palazzo Riozzi, Palazzo Celli, Palazzo Chiari are just a few examples of this type of private building.

 Bibliografia: V. Ballerini, Cori durante il Rinascimento, in Cori: origine e mito di un'antica città, Cori 1999