I’d have never imagined that Atlantic City had something to do with my homeland. Last weekend, I visited this fascinating city in New Jersey with my husband, in order to discover its famous boardwalk and casinos.
What I certainly did not expect to find here is the church of St. Nicholas of Tolentino on Pacific Avenue that, among other things, is entered in the US National Register of Historic Places.
Saint Nicholas was and Augustinian monk, well-know for his many miracles before and after his death. He was sent to the town of Tolentino in the Marche, where he died in 1305. He was held Holy as he was still alive. His body was buried under the marble arch of the Chapel of the cathedral dedicated to him today.
The Basilica of Saint Nicholas became one of the most important place of Catholic worship in central Italy and the solemnity of the Saint is still nowadays honored with masses, processions, exhibitions…thousands of pilgrims come and visit the town thanks to Saint Nicholas.
My memories of Tolentino date back to when I was still a child, and I came to this town in the province of Macerata with my family for healthy spa treatments. Every time we were driving up to the Saint Lucia Spa, the views of the Devil’s Bridge always made me feel afraid because I remembered the legend that tells the origin of its name, that my mother had told.
The popular belief relates the covenant between the devil and the builder of the flyover, Mastro Benevegna, who in order to overcome the difficulties encountered during construction, enlisted the devil in exchange for giving the soul of the first person to cross the bridge. When St. Nicholas, patron saint of the city, became aware of the agreement, he showed up the day of openining. He then threw a piece of cheese on the bridge and sent a dog to retrieve it, which was the first traveler. Thus fooled the devil.
During the Second World War, the German troops withdrew and they blew up the central arch of the bridge on June 30th 1944, which was rebuilt in its original form later on. In the area below a green oasis has been created.
During the writing of this post, I learned by reading an article online, that the thermal park of Tolentino has been recognized nationally as a “beautiful and possible” health resort (source: here)
Since I’m terribly romantic, when I came home in the Marche, I had a lonely walk through the streets of the Tolentino city center, to call to mind the carefree times when I was having breakfast with my parents under the” Torre degli Orologi“(aka: Tower of Watches) in “Piazza della Liberta’ ” (aka: Freedom Square).
After a stop long as the time of having a cappuccino and a hot pastry, I went to the Parisani Brezzi Palace, where Napoleon Bonaparte and the Papal States signed the so called “Peace of Tolentino” in 1797, a diplomatic agreement whose clauses have revolutionized Europe.