mura megalitico

Mura megalitiche IV sec. A.C.

statua di minerva

Minerva da Roccaspromonte - (Castropignano) V Sec. A.C. (Museo archeologico di Vienna)

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Castropignano, the old town center and its surroundings

Research on the territory from the Middle School of 2001 - Regional Institute for Educational Research of Old Town

The old town of Castropignano is accessed through a monumental portal called "La Porta" or "Pertone la croce" (Door near the cross). Above the portal there is the emblem of the d'Evoli, the ducal family of Castropignano back in feudal times, consisting of five points facing down. Nearby is a cross, connecting the roads that intersect outside the walls, it consists of a base, a lion, a column, a capital and the cross itself, decorated with a crucifix in relief on one side, and on the back with the image of St. Barbara holding a bell tower, representing the village for which protection is invoked against evil and against aggression from outside. The various pieces were put together in 1636, but the lion dates back to 1200. Behind the door are the hinges, perforated stone blocks that were used to support the door, which was closed each evening. Just behind the door there is a small building that housed the guards of the Duke, with the task of supervising in the evening and at night the entrance to the village. Nowadays the building houses one of the two rooms of the "Permanent Exhibition of Farming Culture" and preserves old tools used for the production of wine, the other room collects the tools used in the past for agriculture and household utensils (the exhibition can be visited by contacting Consiglia Sardella - tobacco and salt - in Vico Scannillo).


In Vico Guardia II is, covered by a small barrel vault, the entrance to the old bakery of the village, owned by Orindo Ciolfi, which was closed many years ago. Going straight for a short distance and climbing the stairs on the right on the first floor facade of a house can be seen the frame of a window taken from the castle, when it was under conditions of neglect. Nearby is the Church of St. Salvatore, which has a portal of Romanesque-Gothic style with door jambs different from each other. Separate from the church by a small alley, is the home of the famous poet of Molise Eugenio Cirese. The house is now property of his nephew Mr. Luigi Cirese. In front of the house survives the ancient pavement, which was once typical of the village's streets.  Further up is the Clock Tower, which was part of the first castle of Castropignano, property of the Wurtzell family, probably of Lombard origin. When a descendant of the Wurtzell found himself without an heir, his daughter married the Duke d'Evoli from Frosolone. He moved to Castropignano, where he found the already existing castle old and shabby. Therefore he arranged to build a new one outside the village. Very close to the Clock Tower is the home of the family Piccinocchi, which was part of the ancient monastery of St. Martino. In the same area there is the "Pertella", diminutive for door, which served as the entrance to the oldest part of the village, "il Colle" (the Hill). On one side of the Pertella a waxed cross is hang for protection against the plague, earthquake, hunger and wars, according to the prayers uttered every year on the day of the Ascension, during a procession of ancient tradition, which touches the most important points of the village. Beyond the Pertella is the Colle.

s maria delle GrazieOn the east side, on Via delle Fate, there is the house that once belonged to a local priest, over the small door a bas-relief shows a fish, a symbol of the early Christians. From Via delle Fate you can enjoy a very impressive view of the valley of Biferno. It is said that in ancient times Castropignano was downhill (where the falling ruins of two Roman villas were discovered), and that after the fall of the Roman Empire, the population went up the hills for defense reasons.  Leaving the Colle neighborhood, the Castle can be can easily reached. I was built in the middle of the fourteenth century, on the ruins of a Samnite fortress: On the portal there is an inscription in Latin, topped by an angel, which is translated as follows: "Domenico d'Evoli Duke of Castropignano and thirteenth in the succession of the D'Avola", it dates back to 1683 when the castle was enlarged by the Duke who left this inscription.

The castle, built on a mass of limestone, has never been damaged by earthquakes. Indeed G.B. Ciarlanti said that neighboring villages were sometimes razed to the ground by earthquakes but Castropignano never was. The castle, on the side of the river Biferno, consisted of a basement, the ground floor and the first floor (where the Duke lived). Inside were brought to light a second gate, the courtyard, the cistern, a staircase and the foundations of a circular tower. The local people considered the "Palace" so big (and the ducal family so influential) to believe that it had 365 rooms, all hanged with tapestry of silk.  A legend says that a girl named Fata ( which means also Fairy in Italian) refused to undergo the exercise of the right of the Duke to have her for her first night of marriage (ius primae noctis) and preferred to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff (the "corner of Fata"), rather than surrender to the henchmen of the duke that were pursuing her . Since then, the castle remained the subject of a curse. Included in the building was the chapel of St. Martin, close to it were found ruins of the church of St. Maria Assunta (older than the castle), overlapping floors and a crypt. Near the castle, but especially close to the "corner of Fata", there are megalithic walls dating back to the Samnite Wars (IV B.C.). Perhaps a century older than the megalithic walls is the terracotta statue of Minerva, found in the eighteenth century in Roccaspromonte (hamlet of Castropignano) and kept at the Archaeological Museum of Vienna. Via Piano, once a market area, brings back to the village. On one side is visible the keystone of a portal, decorated with a sort of mask with the tongue outside the mouth, which was believed to be against the evil eye since the time of the Etruscans.

vicinatao chiesa goticaGoing down to piazza St. Marco, on the left is the former Church of St. Nicola, who has in his interior large Gothic arches. The Church dates back to the early fourteenth century and the original portal was sold to obtain the money for a partial restoration. Behind the church is situated the ancient bell tower, which with other two towers, gave rise to the crest of Castropignano. The "Mother Church", that overlooks Square St. Marco, was built after the earthquake of 1805 on the ruins of a previous Church. Inside the church the dead were buried under the pavement, like was common in Italy before cemeteries were established in the nineteenth century. Going down, Via St. Marco crosses Via St. Lucia, near the house of the painter Gilda Pansiotti, who lived there in the summer until the last years of her life. She established herself in the middle of the twentieth century as painter of portrait and scenes of country life. All the way up the there is the Calvario (Calvary), a place from where you can enjoy a remarkable panoramic view, overlooking the village and the surrounding countryside. Nearby is the house of Angelo Luciani, partly built on the ruins of an ancient tower, from which the district takes its name "Trevecchia" (Old Tower). The street then descends on the other side of the hill with the longest flight of steps in the village, simple and monumental, until the chapel of St. Lucia. On the façade of the chapel there is a large stone slab which has a " Fascio Littorio" in bas-relief , a symbol that the Romans learned from the Etruscans, which consists of a bundle of rods in dark leather, and was used to express the undisputed power of the king. Along Via Umberto I there is the church of St. Maria delle Grazie, which has a valuable and rare Renaissance portal. The church was built in the sixteenth century, as a consequence of a miracle: it is said that from Lucera (FG) a statue of the Madonna was being transported to Carovilli (IS). The oxen that pulled the wagon died as soon as they reached Castropignano, and vain attempts were made to continue the journey the following days, because the sky was darkened, threatening storm. These signs were seen as the will of the Madonna to remain in the village. For the miracle was built the church, filled with bas-reliefs and frescoes inside (the caretaker is Carmelo Borsella).In the eighteenth century the adjoining convent was built. On the façade is visible the crest of the d'Evoli, who built at their own expense the two sacred buildings.