CASTELSARACENO

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.

History

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 1044.
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.

CASTELSARACENO
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