1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Grottaferrata

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GROTTAFERRATA, a village of Italy, in the province of Rome, from which it is 13 m. S.E. by electric tramway, and 21/2 m. S. of Frascati, 1080 ft. above sea-level, in the Alban Hills. Pop. (1901) 2645. It is noticeable for the Greek monastery of Basilians founded by S. Nilus in 1002 under the Emperor Otho III., and which occupies the site of a large Roman villa, possibly that of Cicero. It was fortified at the end of the 15th century by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere (afterwards Pope Julius II.), whose arms may be seen about it. The massive towers added by him give it a picturesque appearance. The church belongs to the 12th century, and the original portal, with a mosaic over it, is still preserved; the interior was restored in 1574 and in 1754, but there are some remains of frescoes of the 13th century. The chapel of S. Nilus contains frescoes by Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) of 1610, illustrating the life of the saint, which are among his most important works. The abbot’s palace has a fine Renaissance portico, and contains an interesting museum of local antiquities. The library contains valuable MSS., among them one from the hand of S. Nilus (965); and a palaeographical school, for the copying of MSS. in the ancient style, is maintained. An omophorion of the 11th or 12th century, with scenes from the Gospel in needlework, and a chalice of the 15th century with enamels, given by Cardinal Bessarion, the predecessor of Giuliano della Rovere as commendatory of the abbey, are among its treasures. An important exhibition of Italo-Byzantine art was held here in 1905–1906.

See A. Rocchi, La Badia di Grottaferrata (Rome, 1884); A. Muñoz, L’Art byzantin à l’exposition de Grottaferrata (Rome, 1905); T. Ashby in Papers of the British School at Rome, iv. (1907).  (T. As.)