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The Scoppa Arch

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Largo Trinchera is the square of the cathedral per excellence. It is the place where the cathedral overlooks in all its glory, but it is also the square where the Curia has handled all its power. Each one of the four sides is closed off by an ecclesiastical building: On the right hand side of the cathedral there is the  Palazzo Vescovile(The Bishop’s Palace), linked to the  Palazzo del Seminario, (The Seminar’s Palace) on the left through the Arco Stoppa. Three structures are nearly contemporary of the cathedral, but in the course of the centuries they have experienced many refurbishments. The most radical change from this point of view has surely been experienced by the Arco di Stoppa, which stands out on the square, linking via del Castello with Largo Trinchera. Once upon a time the arch was made of wood; it can be compared to a lavish, Baroque gallery which links the two palaces. The original wooden structure was replaced by a stone one in 1750, because of its precariousness. This change is reported on the Latin inscription placed up on the fastigium. It says: “PONS ERAT E LIGNO / CONSTRUXIT MARMORE /SCOPPA / MUNIAT UT TIMIDIS / PER LOCA TUTA VIAM / CESI RECTOR FECIT /A. D. 1750”. (Originally it was a wooden bridge; the Bishop Scoppa erected a new stone one, for the benefit of whoever was scared of using it, and the transit would be less dangerous, across a safe path.). The inscription is by the canon Cesi and dates back to AD 1750. Artistically speaking, it is the most Baroque element of the square.  The fastigium creates the effect of an immense cartouche decorated with a putto (once upon a time there must have been two of them) and by volutes, conches and torches which frame the top. A very elegant geometrical moulding envelops the four openings which reserved the passage to the prelates from the Seminar to the Palazzo Vescovile. The arch was commissioned by the bishop Francesco Antonio Scoppa, who ordered to put his coat of arms just above the key ashlar.

Bibliography
AA.VV. (2000), Guida di Ostuni, Lecce, Lecce, Congedo Editore, 1. ed.
Tanzarella, A. (1989), Ostuni ieri, Fasano, Schena Editore.

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