situated on a hill (colle della Guardia, 135m) between the
Sabato and Calore streams, in the middle of a fertile basin,
was the native land of Popes Vittore III and Gregorio VIII.
The earthquake of 1980 gravely damaged some areas of its historical
Capital of the Sanniti Irpini and given the name of Maluentum
or Maleventum, it was conquered in the 4th-3rd Centuries by
Rome, who changed its name to Beneventum when making it a
colony in 268. Seven years earlier, in 275, the City saw the
defeat of Pirro and in 214 saw that of the Carthaginian Annone,
by the Romans.
During the Greek-Gothic war, it was destroyed
by Totila (545AD), but retrieved its own importance by passing
under the power of the Longobards of Zottone (571), who changed
it to a Duchy; it was then made a principality in 774; the
title of princes was recognized by its nobility at the moment
of its conquista franca (Franca conquest). The last Longobard
prince, Landolfo VI, to get away from Norman domination, accepted
the Rule of the Church and the role of vassal or subject (1073).
Consequently, at his death (1077), the City passed hands to
the Pontificate State. From that day on, Benevento remained
under Pontificate domination for nearly eight centuries, governed
by church rectors, who were usually descendants from the old
Longobard aristocracy and initially elected by the general
public, then nominated directly by the Pope and transformed
in the 18th Century to Governors and in the 19th Century to
Delegates. The Pontificate dominion was frequently discussed
and was stiffly tested during the tormented history of the
region. The stage for the encounters between the Svevi and
Angioini (1266), in the 15th Century, Benevento was subject
to various renewals by the Kings and Queens of Naples, with
Ladislao (1408), Giovanna II (1414-1418) and Alfonso d’A
ragona (1443-1458) who ruled it as a Papal Vicar. Once again
subtracted from the Papacy by Ferdinando IV of Boubon (1768-1774)
in feud with Clemente XIII and XIV, it was occupied by the
French in 1798 and became part of the Partenopea Republic.
Established as a Principality by Napoleon (1806), who conferred
the title to Talleyrand, it returned to the Holy State in
1815. Centre of Carbonari (meaning coal-burners – a
secret revolutionary society akin to the Freemasons) and liberal
revolts (1820-1821 and 1848), it was then annexed to the Italian
Reign after the popular insurrection of 3rd September 1860
and occupation by the Garibaldi’s.
A great deal of the origins of old Benevento is evidenced
by a Roman Theatre (dating back to the Adriano era, II Century
AD, but which was restored under Caracalla. It was capable
of accommodating 20,000 spectators) and by the majestic Triumphal
Arch of Traiano dedicated to the Emperor in 114 AD, and which
is certified as one of the most important ancient triumphal
arches; it’s situated at the beginning of Via Traiana
direction Brindisi; the structure is a barrel-vault, 15,60m
in height and 8,60m wide. It is entirely decorated with low
reliefs which constitute one of the principal documents of
art of the Traianeo period and which certifies the “merits”
of the Emperor.
From the Medieval era, there are the City Walls, the Castle
or Stronghold of the Rectors from the 14th Century; the Cathedral
from the 7th Century; containing five naves (reconstructed
during the 9th-13th Centuries and in 1959 after the Second
World War bombardments, which almost totally destroyed it);
the Church of Santa Sofia in Voto (8th Century), built on
the spot where the legend would like the famous witches of
the City to assemble.
The Vanvitelli Bridge over the Calore is noteworthy.
The (Archeological) Museum of Sannio is well documented and
is situated in the old Monestery to the right of the Church
of S. Sofia, which contains a cloister from the 12th Century.