A LOOK ON THE OUTSKIRTS
Pontelatone rose about the tenth century A.D. as a result of the Saracen incursions that provoked, among other things, the destruction of "Santa Maria a Pietro", "Iovinelle" and "Centura" localities. Therefore, the commune rose as a fortified centre of which still are visible the remains of the town-walls and of a powerful castle.
Pontelatone was a feud of the Montefuscolo family
from 1189 to 1262; the, when Carlo II d'Angiò was
king, it was a feud of the Ragosia family from Dragoni. From
1301 it was governed by Tommaso Marzano, Admiral of the Reign,
which in 1321, in order to face the imminent attacks of the
Aragoneses, began fortifying the castle so much that he transformed
it into a true bastion.
In 1462 Pontelatone was besieged by Ferrante d'Aragona because
the owner of the castle joined in revolt with the "Baroni".
Thanks to the deep glens and the high cliffs, the castle was
proof against the incursions and the king Ferrante had to
abandon the empire. Subsequently, the aragonese king was able
to overcome his enemies and he entrusted Pontelatone to Diomede
Carafa. In this period Pontelatone grew from architectural
point of view; in fact it knew the catalan architecture's
splendours that had the Gothic influence.
It was notorial centre of the barony of Formicola. When Pontelatone became a marquisate in 1612, maintained this condition until 1806, when Joseph Bonaparte declared extinct the feudalism.
From 1862 this little commune was named "Schiavi". On April 27, 1862 the communal council approved and forwarded to the government a motion introduced from the councilman Bonaventura Campagnano. This last man remembered to the bystanders the participation of his ancestors to the Neapolitan revolution of 1799 and the participation of his fellow-citizens to several renaissance risings, as well as the inauguration of a legion (Legion Of the Matese, whose he himself was commander) that fought on Garibaldi's side in 1860.
Therefore B. Campagnano proposed to modify the name of the
commune from "Schiavi" to "Liberi" and this request was accepted
on August 24, 1862. According to some historians (monsignor
Bernardino Di Dario) Sclavus would indicate the Sclavi or
Slavi directly. According to other historians (Rèsetar) there
are no traces of Slav presence in Campania. Therefore, Sclavus
would indicate the Longobard people that occupied the Campania
in sixth century A.D. The Longobards set up the veneration
of "San Michele Arcangelo", nowadays revered in the homonymous
cave which is to North of Profeti.
The first historical news about Sclavia and San Michele's cave is in "Istoriola n. 29" of "Anonimo Cassinese" and comes back in 827. The bull of "Santo Stefano Menicillo" (979) informs us that the Capua's archbishop exercised a reserve on the San Michele cave, while other news (1097) informs us that S. Anselmo of Aosta was taken by benedectine abbot from San Salvatore Telesino to the "grangia" which the Benedectines themselves had at Liberi (...et duxit in suam villam Slaviam nomine). Please note that the "grancia" was a complex of buildings and grounds kept by a community of Cistercian friars. Still today the site where was the "grangia" is named "San Salvatore" and the well dug nearby is named S. Anselmo's well. Other news is in "Relazione del Vescovato di Caiazzo e sua diocesi" work that was sent in Vatican City in 1590 by Caiazzo's bishop.
In this work are mentioned the fllowing hamlets: "...le Cese,
li Marangiuli, li Profeti, li Schiavi...". These hamlets were
members of Formicola's barony while nowadays are hamlets of
Liberi's commune. We must remember at Liberi S. Alfonso
Maria dè Liguori exercised his ministry. He composed
at Liberi "le glorie di Maria" and the famous Christmas's
hymn "Quann nascett ninn a Bettlemm", well-know like "Tu
scendi dalle stelle". Nowadays Liberi has the following
hamlets: Villa, Cese, Merangeli and Profeti.
Castel di Sasso
Nowadays the commune of Castel di Sasso is composed by four hamlets. At the beginning of 1800, as a Formicola's barony hamlet, it included the "Villa Santa Croce" village, which nowadays is a member of Piana di Monte Verna commune. The first news about Castel di Sasso refers to Strangolagalli hamlet; it is a question of the battle, in 554 A.D., between Buccellino, general of the Franks's Teobaldo king, and Narsete, general of East emperor Giustiniano. The french army, made up by 30000 soldiers, was defeated by Narsete. A lot of Narsete's army soldiers were Greeks (18000 soldiers).
According to the historians (for example Muratori) only 5 of 30000 soldiers saved oneself. This battle gave rise to Strangolagalli place name and other two place names: "Montefallano" or "Montefallace", the hill where was laid an ambush to the French and "Greci", the territory where the Greek army camped. Nowadays these place names indicate the respective localities.
Since in Sasso there are ancient castle's ruins, this could explain the origin of the place name "Castel di Sasso". We don't know precisely the epoch of its construction but it could go back in 700, when the Benevento's dukes got hold of Campania and Samnium and built defensive bastions. According to the tradition, the castle was built by Gionata that was leader of a longobard stock that was sent away from Caiazzo. According to the legend, Gionata met some girls that were able to run away from the Rocchetta's castle where they were prisoners of the Saracens.
Gionata chose one of them (Antonella), married her and built
the castle enclosing it by boundary walls in the subsequent
years. However, the castle's existence is certain in 979 in
the famous Santo Stefano Menicillo's bull where we can read
"Sanctus Petrus ad Saxa". In the catalogus baronorum (1154
- 1169) we can learn that the feud of Sasso belonged to "Alessandro
di Montefusco". In 1200 around Sasso became integrating part
of the Dragoni's feud. It is named in a parchment paper of
1322 by which we can learn that it was subjected to Squille's
count. In 1465 "Ferrante I d'Aragona" annexed the
territories of Sasso, Formicola, Pontelatone and Liberi to
From 1465, Sasso and its territories became integrating part
Formicola's barony. In fact, they were assigned to Carafa
- Colubrano family until 1806, when the feuds were abolished
as well thanks to specific laws. Decio Coletti, an
illustrious person from Castel di Sasso, took part
in drafting these laws.
We don't know the origin of the name "Formicola".
According to Padula, Formicola derived from the hebraic word
"Fhor Micol" that indicates the existence of warm water's
springs in the neighbourhood. According to other historians,
Formicola derived from the latin word "Furmicula" (laborious
ant) and it indicated the laboriousness of its inhabitants.
Formicola has expanded in the XIth century around an hamlet
named "Majorano" or "Mairanu" and nowadays the historical
district of Formicola is named "Via Maiorano". At first was
built up a tower; then with time rose the hamlet around it.
This hamlet was more populated when, for unknown reasons,
a lot of families moved from the near Pontelatone. I seems
that since William the Norman's time existed the Feniculi
barony. Its historical notes are in a parchment paper of May
1240. Under Carlo D'angiò its owner was Emanuele Frangipani.
Then, in 1306, its owner was Tommaso Marzano, the Sessa's
duke. In 1465 the barony was entrusted to Carafa family.
This family used the title of Princes of Colubrano and governed
the barony until 1806, when the feuds were suppressed owing
to G. Bonaparte's reform.
Under the Carafa family, Formicola was capital of
the barony and several palaces was built up, as the
old church of Spirito Santo and the convent of the Verginiani
which at present is the townhall's office.
With the administrative reform of 1806 Formicola was part
of Caiazzo's jurisdictional district but with the reform of
1808 it was separated from Caiazzo because
a new district was created . This district was under Formicola
and its neighbourhood communes were member of it. Both districts
(Caiazzo and Formicola) were preserved with the bourbon political
system of 1816 and kept autonomous until 1927 when, owing
to promulgation of the fascist laws, the Caserta's province
was abolished. In 1945, owing to Caserta's province reconstitution,
the communes of the two districts made up an only constituency.
Here is a list of Formicola's sights.
Spirito Santo's church
The duchess Roberta Carafa made build up it in 1571. In 1760 the abbot Pascasio Anicio made pull down it and build up at same place one greater.
In this church there are the tomb of Giuseppe Carafa, died during Masaniello's revolt, the painting decorating the ceiling and painted by G. Storace and A. Secchione, the verginian paintings in some side-chapels, the high altar built up by quality marbles.
For its artistic and historical importance this church was declared national monument.
San Prisco's church
According to the tradition it was built up in the IXth century after an earthquake destroyed Castello and Calciano hamlets.
The survivors gave rise to the Medici and Lautoni hamlets. Since they cannot rebuilt up the two destroyed churchs, they built up a church between Medici and Lautoni hamlets and dedicated it to Saint Prisco, the first Capua's bishop, on September 1, 882. It is the most ancient church of the zone.
Santa Cristina's church
The primitive Santa Cristina's church was built up about the Xith century where present day is the canonical house. At the beginning of 1700, it was pulled down and replaced by the present building in neoclassical style with three aisles.
Santa Maria a Castello
According to an ancient tradition, the San Guglielmo's monks (Verginiani) in 1142 built up an hermitage with an adjoining church named "Santa Maria a Castello".
This primitive little church, below the present temple, is embellished by frescos that go back about the XIVth century.
It is destination for faithfull of Formicola and neighbouring villages.
Santa Maria della pietà's church
It is at "Teglia" district; it's a pretty little temple greek cross-shaped surmounted by a stately dome.
It was named "Santa Maria del Ponte(bridge)" because the Carafa family had a bridge built in the vicinity.
Chiesa Tutti i Santi (All Saints's church)
This church has only one aisle and is on a site named "Fondo dei Santi", that is "Deep of the Saints". Maybe, for the above reason, the church is named "Chiesa di tutti i Santi".
This name is extended all Fondola hamlet. We have news about this hamlet since 1282. In 1468 it became a parish church.
The monastery of the Verginiani
It was built up in 1400 and it was for centuries the seat of the barony's lords. Subsequently it was Law Courts. At present it is the seat of the Urban Community of Montemaggiore.