On the edges of the Pollino National Park, not to far from
Moliterno and San Chirico Raparo, is where one can visit Castelsaraceno,
an ancient fortress which sprung up around the X century.
There are two hypothesis regarding the origins of the fortress.
The first cites the inhabitants of neighbouring Plànula,
as having built a stronghold to defend against Saracen incursions
during the IX century. The second sustains that it was the
Saracens themselves, as suggested by its name, who founded
the fortress after having destroyed the ancient habitations
of Plànula and Cassiano.
However, the centre was destroyed by earth tremours during
It became part of the territory under Norman domination and
was assigned to the Mango Family, nobles of S. Chirico Raparo,
who donated the Basilian Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo (1066).
It flourished quickly under the monks, but unlike many other
centres in the region who were also faithful to imperialism
and the Ghibellines, it didn’t suffer through the changeover
to Angioiniansan power (1268). The latter, under the wishes
of the Pope, descended in Italy to eliminate the Swabians.
The monks ruled until the end of the XV century, when the
fief passed to the powerful Sanseverino family who initiated
construction of the beautiful Palazzo Baronale.
During subsequent centuries, Castelsaraceno was fief of the
following families: D’Amato, Lepore di Molfetta and
finally the Picinni-Leopardi.
After the Renaissance motions and unification into the Reign
of Italy (1861), Castelsaraceno suffered for years under the
brigandage phenomenon, fuelled by troops escaping from the
defeated Bourbonic army.
A visit to the City
Castelsaraceno offers interesting ideas both for cultural
and naturalistic visits. Among the first, we would like to
cite the following churches: S. Maria degli Angeli (XVI century),
S. Rocco (1561) and the S. Spirito (XVI century), which preserves
paintings by D’Amico (XV century).
In the surrounding area one can visit the ruins of ancient
Plànula, which was destroyed by the Saracens during
the IX century.
The close proximity of the wonderful territory of the Pollino
National Park, which conserves fascinating intact naturalistic
settings, allows one to make excursions leading to panoramic
spots on Mount Raparo and Monte Alpi.
Place of interest
Palazzo Baronale (XV century); S. Maria degli Angeli Church
(XVI century); S. Spirito Church (XVI-XVII centuries); S.
Rocco Church and Cappuccini Convent (1561); Ruins of Plànula;
remains of a mill in the Mancasi locality; and the Cugno di
Viggiano, San Giovanni, Cuscone springs.