The norman conquest of Calabria
This are the centuries when the normans, under the leadership of Robert Guiscard, and his brother roger hauteville, commence their conquest of southern italy: matter of fact, initially the normans combatted mercilessly against the byzantines, to the point that in conjunction with the Melfi accord of 1059, Robert Guiscard, after declaring himself liege of Pope Niccoloò II, he obtained the title of Duke of Puglia and Calabria, as a reward.
The norman conquest of Calabria, opened the “latinization” of the the region; as the byzantines practised cristianity in the greek rite, the normans, devoted followers of the roman Church, began construction of new monasteries and basilicas, thus promoting the latin rite.
S. Maria della Roccella
S. maria della Roccella, was a most desired basilica by the normans, under the auspices of the bishop of Squillace, because it was purposefully positioned as counter-altar right at the istmo between the two seas of the preceding S. maria, in the flatlands of Sant’Eufemia, in Lamezia Terme, which was built in 1062.
The building date of S. Maria della Roccella, oscillates between the end of the XI, century, and a few years into the XII.
Though the construction was never completed: to date, the reason or cause has never surfaced. however, in the following centuries, the building is often mentioned, including as a fortress against coastal invaders. One particular example is the sketch done by Claude Louis Chatelet, while traveling with Richard de Saint-Non, one of the many visitors from abroad, who near the end of the XVII century, travelled purposefully to Italy in search of ancient roman and greek civilization sites.
This basilica is truly an accurate reflection of the norman church styles of the period: most notably is the latin cross planimetry ( where clearly the arm section of the main nave-aisle is clearly longer than the lateral cross sections): accessible by steps is the altar zone, where the three semi-circular apses of the windows (visible to date) have different depths. Though the interior were meant ti be simple, the roof was designed with wooden trussed beams and clay tiles.
The exterior facades were composed of clay bricks on which a succession of blind arches and windows run along thr entire perimeter. The principal facade had a huge portal window (where today we see an oval opening, surely a fantasy reinterpretation of a restoration of neo 900).