ATELLA

Not too far from Melfi, along the Valle di Vitalba, 500 metres above sea level is where one will find Atella, a village which historically can boast two separate origins.

History

The current habitation was built on the wishes of Giovanni d’Angiò, Count of Gravina and sixth offspring of King Carlo II d’Angiò, who induced the inhabitants of some surrounding rural homes to populate the village of Atella (1325-1330). In return for this, he promised fiscal exemptions for 10 years to all future inhabitants.

Other theories on the origins of Atella discusses the inhabitants of the homonymous city of Campania, as founding the City during the III century BC, or it being connected to the site in Celenna as cited by Virgilio.
Important finds have been uncovered from this era: a Necropolis from the IV century BV and a splendid sarcophagus from the Imperial Era (II century AD).

However, the Medieval habitation had to have developed quickly, if already at the end of the 14th century it became one of the richest centres in the region and seat of important religious orders.
During the French-Spanish clashes, Atella experienced pillage by the French and subsequent siege by Spanish and Venetian troops of the City which was occupied by the enemy (1496).

After being a fief for many years, of the Caracciolo Family, Atella was relinquished to Filiberto Chalon and Antonio de Leyva (1532). Economic development of the City was impeded by the bad governing of the following various feudatories, which continued until the subversion of feudal rights (1806): the Gesualdo, the Capua, the Filomarino and the Caracciolo of Torella.

During the Republican and Renaissance experience in the 19th century, the village remained extraneous to liberal politics and on the contrary, became one of the southern legitimistic centres.

Over the centuries, Atella was often damaged by earthquakes; a terrible one in1654 and in 1851 which almost destroyed the village.

A visit to the City

Although its urban planning was damaged by seismic tremours, Atella still preserves a Medieval village profile which is visible in its town walls and the San Michele portal, where on entering one can reach the centre and visit the Duomo which was erected during the XV century.
Not too far away, one can see the Angioiniansan Towers, being the remains of the Castle which was destroyed by seismic activity during 1694.

There is also a Benedictine Nun Monastery (XIV century) in the town, annexed to the S. Benedetto Church,, which preserves precious paintings.

On can visit the beautiful Santa Lucia Church (1389) in Atella’s cemetery, which hosts a fresco from the XV century.

Not too far from Atella, one can visit the S. Maria of Pierno Sanctuary (1122), one of the major architectonic monuments of Basilicata.

Moreover, the surrounding territory is known for the presence of beneficial thermal springs. The Atella Basin is also interesting. It’s a Palaeolithic site which was continuously inhabited by man beginning 5000.000 years ago and which has uncovered many stone handicraft pieces.

Places of interest

Santa Maria in Nives Cathedral; Angioino Castle Towers; Benedictine Monastery; Santa Lucia Church; Palaeolithic Park; Thermal springs: Varco della Creta; Francesca; S. Maria of Pierno Sanctuary.

ATELLA
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Basilicata region of Italy

 

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