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Basilica Pescocostanza

The "Pietra del Vituperio" of Pescocostanzo and the "Pilozzo" of Tagliacozzo


In front of the church, at the foot of the steps leading to S. Maria del Colle (the ancient Collegiate Church of Pescocostanzo) is placed a cylindrical stone high cm. 80 approximately and with a diameter of cm. 70. This is the " Pietra del Vituperio", pillory for the exposition of insolvent debtors to the public ludibrio, an ancient testimony of the credit-assistance system established in Pescocostanzo, thanks to the University's initiative that led to the creation of some important institutions: the assistance of patients gathered in a hospitale; the foundation of a "Monte dei Pegni", functioning according to the provisions established in Chapters (1614); a house of the poor, called "Casa della Communa" (1567). The " Pietra del vituperio" was probably an institution of popular initiative.

The peculiarity of this stone of Pescocostanzo lay in the fact that the debtor had to undress and sit on it and during all the time was exposed to the sedan, mocked, offended, teased by those present. In doing so, however, he was relieved of his debts, even if from that day he "lost his face" as no one would have given him any more credit. Affinity with the " Pietra del vituperio " of Pescocostanzo had the "pilozzo" located in Piazza Obelisco in Tagliacozzo. Even the "pilozzo", a stone seat with a hole in the middle, was a pillory on which the insolvent debtors were seated, with their pants pulled down.

After the exposure and the declaration of bankruptcy, the debtor was released from his obligations but even in this case he would no longer have any credit. The pilozzo was replaced around 1825 by the fountain with the obelisk. This practice probably had medieval origins and was also used in other Italian cities. In Padua, for example, in the northeastern sector of the Palazzo della Ragione the "Pietra del Vituperio" is still preserved, on which from 1260 the insolvent debtors were seated, dressed only in shirts and underpants, obliged to repeat three times in the presence at least 100 people, the commitment "cedo bonis" (renouncement of assets) before being expelled from the city. From this custom derives the expression: "restar in braghe de tela".