History and Culture
Each territory has its own secret and forgotten history and the Sannio is no exception. Even though the ancient and proud Samnites no longer exist, except for a few fascinating remnants, their memory survives in the traditions of the people and in the land that has sustained them over the past 25 centuries, together with their Greek and Etruscan neighbours.
The most famous event of ancient history to take place here was undoubtedly the humiliation of the Roman army at the Caudine Forks of 253 B.C. It is the Middle Ages, however, with its long succession of ‘barbaric’ invasions, that have left the most intriguing legacy. The Longobards settled their capital in Benevento and in the fateful years around 1066 A.D. the Normans, on their way home from the Crusades, made alliances with local feudal lords or took over lands altogether. These were also times of Saracen harassments and raids.
Throughout the Middle Ages the Church maintained its strong influence by building immense monasteries such as the Abbey of Montecassino and smaller ones as in S. Agata dei Goti. These tiny feudal and Church domains made for an unusual wealth of aristocratic palazzi, castles, convents and bishoprics.
During the numerous and endless wars between the European monarchies throughout the centuries the area was a theatre of conflict, sieges and betrayals. Frederick II governed here as well as the Angevins, and the Aragons down to the 17 th and 18 th centuries. And finally the Bourbons built their astounding royal palace and nearby silk factories at Caserta in the 19 th century a stone’s throw from Castel Morrone, where some 300 of Garibaldi’s troops fought one of the defining battles, known as the ‘Thermopylae of Italy’, for the Unification of Italy against thousands of Bourbon troops.