The Dead’s Door

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In a time when we speak casually of the city on a human scale, the question “What is the door of the dead”, at best, we feel that it is responding to a door that never opens, but certainly no one suspects that behind this definition is hidden, at least in part, the history of the houses of our city centers, built on a human scale in the true sense of the word. But there is more. Hides one of the most distressing of the tragedy of the destruction of the Roman Civilization, hated by the early Christians and barbarians before they had tasted hegemony.

In places inhabited in the early Middle Ages, ravaged by bandits, robbers, thieves, misfits, the result of the dissolution of the Roman Empire made by the Barbarians and Christians, the stairway to the first floor consisted of a single ramp, quite steep, started from a landing placed at a height of not less than two feet above the street level. To access this landing, inside there were two or three easy steps. Outside, on the road, along a wall, a single step, used as a comfortable seat by street children, made it quite difficult to access.

In fact, after the first hour of darkness, while the inhabitants of the old floor high above the closing evening of the Main door and felt secure, as part of the ground, they had to provide for their own defense, beginning with those who knock on the door . To this end, the access port on the ground floor, large enough was blocked and opened the door for access to the ladder, just sufficient to allow the passage to a single person, that in poorly balanced position for the height of the external step could be easily rejected. It often happened that there happen to the “dead,” and among those who were in and defended the entrance and is among the assailants. From here, the first meaning of the Gate of the Dead, which is a beautiful specimen in the facade of Casa Lemmi.

Later, but no one knows when for the first time, it is mentioned under that name to mark a habit to go out the same door, usually walled, the case of the landlord, who died, perhaps riservagli a privilege or perhaps to prevent return back. For this reason, soon after, the door was bricked up.