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.
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
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
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
Over the centuries, Atella was often damaged by earthquakes;
a terrible one in1654 and in 1851 which almost destroyed the
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
There is also a Benedictine Nun Monastery (XIV century) in
the town, annexed to the S. Benedetto Church,, which preserves
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
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