In 831, some Venetian merchants arrived near Cropani on their way back from Alexandria where they had collected the remains of the Evangelist Mark. According to this reconstruction, the ship was caught in a bad storm and wrecked near the beach of Cropani. The inhabitants aided the merchants who, as a sign of recognition, gave them a fragment of the kneecap of the saint’s right knee, kept in the church of Santa Maria Assunta (the Duomo).
Later, the merchants awarded the people of Cropani the honorary citizenship of Venice.The mother church or the Assunta is a monumental building whose first layout dates to the 13th century. The structure was built with large blocks of tufaceous granite and stands out because of its imposing bell tower, 43 metres high compared to the original 47.
The church of the Assunta houses notable works of art including statues, relics, paintings and frescoes in 18th century Baroque style and a notable wooden ceiling with arabesques with 15th century paintings.
The little ‘Antiquarium Diocesano’ museum inside the Duomo can be visited. It holds many works of sacred art including half-bust reliquaries sculptured in the round, finely decorated in damascened gold leaf dating to the 16th century, precious silver items and sacred 18th century vestments and also an interesting marble tabernacle sculptured bas-relief dating to 1545.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.