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The d'Evoli Castle

The d'Evoli Castle of Castropignano is a symbol of the culture and the society of transhumance. Giovanni d'Evoli, former Baron of Frosolone, a nobleman of Norman descent, built it in 1362 on the ruins of ancient settlements, which recent archaeological investigations date back to the Bronze Age. Giovanni d'Evoli was the founder of a large and flourishing herding tradition practicing transhumance. The d'Evoli family, that will exercise his feudal domain on Castropignano until the subversion of the feudal government, remains tied to the tradition of transhumance for centuries giving a significant and constant contribution to the sovereigns that happened in the domain of Southern Italy for the stewardship of this vital economic activity. Among other things Andrea d'Evoli was the trusted adviser of Alfonso d' Aragona, and sent to the press the Pragmatic "De Mena pecudum" in 1447, a collection of laws and regulations governing transhumance in addition to defining the criteria for determining the "fida " (toll). Over the centuries the castle underwent a series of interventions, the most important of which was completed in 1636 by Giambattista d'Evoli who transformed the castle into a residential palace.

il castello d'evoliThe imposing size and richness of the furniture and works of art it contained are justified by the fact that the d'Evoli from Castropignano ruled over a vast territory extending up to Capracotta, which until the early nineteenth century was one of Italy's most important markets for the wool trade. The fight between the shepherds and landowners, which developed in Molise from the sixteenth century, ended with the shepherds inevitably succumbing, with the slow decline of transhumance and of the society and culture related to it. The castle was sold in the early nineteenth century, stripped of everything and abandoned. Within a few decades it was in ruins, but it still retains the ability to witness a centuries-old history, rich in interest and charm as the stories and monuments which remains unknown to the majority of people. 

"... And speaking of this huge palace, after local inspection, and after accredited tradition, it is good to remember that it is situated in the extreme of this village in the district Leone, or "Palazzo" par excellence. It stands on the ruins of the old castle, after a flat space which distance it from the houses of the Leone district. A door gives entry, after a few palms slope there is a second, smaller door. In the first entry on the left, after an entrance hall, there is a room for the guards.  You enter a large symmetrical courtyard where are the entrance of store hoses, cellars, stables and studs, and water tanks, not without special revenues to the different quarters, well disposed for their different activities, treasuries, agents, guardians, and low court, and then for all the subordinates a large room with a common heating. You go up, to the first floor where the nobles live, through an elegant and spacious staircase, which leads into a large hall, remainder of the ancient Castle, to which follows another smaller hall, and then the study in two rooms, that has behind the armory, and then the chapel, and the pantry. Along the east side there is a row of rooms that form the area of the Lord, the walls are covered with splendid tapestries, damask and silk, and the doors are decorated with gold. This area has on the exterior on one side an open gallery, and on the other side a large balcony that gives a lovely light to the rooms of the lords, without enumerating the various rooms of service. On the opposite side, ie to the south and north, are seen many other rooms, divided into quarters and quatrains, one of them is still called the quarter of the bishop, because it was inhabited by the Bishop of Triveneto, that being a relative of the Baron, stayed in the castle for long periods.
castello 3Almost all the rooms have vaulted ceiling with a few false ceilings, including that of the great hall, which has a renowned lacunar ceiling . In the Windows and doors there is profusion of worked travertine and over the lintels the family coats of arms. The walls are wide and rock solid, so the edifice is for a good reason to considered a fortified palace . It used to be thoroughly and nobly furnished, but it was stripped and everything was sold." (M.A.B)


The d'Evoli Castle (as Eugenio Cirese remembered it in the years 1915/1920)

I am home after a long absence and the castle, which cuts the sky, straight and severe, and the hills still barren and the river valley lying voluptuously below, they have the voice of my moved soul. Alone at evening, I returned to the castle, that used to listen for hours of the thrill of my passion and (remember Alfredo?) our pace, cautious in the rubble, and the voices of heartfelt admiration for the remains of an art, our and desired, in the dark place, like a smile of kindness by one of the last dukes, perhaps to heal and to forget the hiccups of the ancestors and the wail of the oppressed.
The beautiful room decorated by a painter of the Neapolitan school, still fresh and well preserved, despite the inertia of the current owners, the two double lancet windows of perfect line that gave light to the inner courtyard, the balustrade with slender supports sculpted in 1643 by Valentino Silvestri from Sepino ... And well, I did not find anything! The beautiful room is collapsed, collapsed is the rest of the ceiling that covered the living room where the patriots of the Biferno Valley used to met during the first war of independence. The balustrade is destroyed, and some gables removed and even, as it is said, used as tombstones! Only the bare double lancet windows are still there looking sorrowful. The walls remain standing, but the owners have taken away all the support beams and, soon, even the walls will fall. Thus, in the century of revival will end one of the oldest and more ancient castles of Molise. And who knows how many worthy and beautiful things have died or will die soon, in and out of Molise, because of the carelessness of the government and neglect of the special regional commissions which are a like a phoenix ... that in the Molise there is a commission , is it called like this?, of monuments and excavations is certain, it is certain, indeed, that an active (and inactive) part of it ... are robust and lucid minds like that of the Secretary De Renzis, the patient officer of the provincial library, Giovanbattista Masciotta; the tireless researcher of historical fact of Molise, closed in robust volumes of notes and rich documentation; Alfredo Trombetta, the artist and poet, unsurpassed illustrator of the beauty of our country; Gamberane Luigi, the austere, brooding Samnite soul , Franco Scarano, a scholar of classical antiquity ... What this commission is, and what it does we know, scattered among the hills of Molise, it studies , remembers, illustrates. But is it enough to study, remember, illustrate? No, it is not enough: we must preserve. And to do so it is necessary to stay together, to visit, to observe, and to spend energy and tenacity to ask the government not to leave in the hands of vandals, not to abandon to the impetus of wind and water all the signs of being and becoming of a land. Those that can be keep in museums and those who must stay in place, strength, life and soul of the past and the future: the walls, cut between the sky and rocks. Hawk nests and coats of arms of the people.

Eugenio Cirese