The complex of Santa Maria di Sala is one of the most suggestive locations in the Farnese region. This is the first stop in our virtual tour to introduce you to the region, alongside the "olive oil" tour, which we are currently organising for you.
Situated on a hill, the location takes its name from an ancient castle that has now disappeared, the "Castello di Sala" ("Sala Castle"). The castle was originally built to host a group of religious people, possibly hermits.
The church has a rectangular plant with a single nave. The altar was decorated with three frescos. A fourth painting, depicting Holy Mary, Baby Jesus and San Sebastián was hung on the right side of the nave. The frescos and painting were restored in 1979 and are currently on display in the Farnese municipal palace.
The church is situated a few kilometres from the centre of the village, by the side of the Olpetta river, near the Lamone forest ("Selva del Lamone"). The church's location was not selected by accident. Ahead of the church being built, religious functions for the worship of water would take place in this location. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, worship of Holy Mary would also take place in this same location. Until 50 years ago, the inhabitants of the village would take part in pilgrimages from the village to the hill, to ask Holy Mary for rain during long periods of drought.
The church, which feels almost enchanted, had been deteriorating during the last decades. The roof collapsed and the vegetation started growing inside the building. In 2015 a careful restoration was carried out, which took Santa Maria di Sala back to its former splendour.