The historic centre of Caggiano
Stories of noble families and Knights Templar
Caggiano, a historic village in Campania perched on a hill, enjoys the view of the surrounding landscape. Gentle wheat fields and vineyards, harsh mountains, serene sunrises and wonderful sunsets that plunge into the Gulf of Salerno. It is the second highest municipality in the province of Salerno, at 828 metres above sea level, and that certainly has its advantages. Anyone looking at it from the outside sees a group of houses leaning against each other, some of them rising from such ancient walls that they seem to be part of the mountain itself. Walls that still today are flanked by a majestic castle, the heart and guardian of the village.
Why it is special
Anyone entering the historical centre of Caggiano will have the sensation of being transported back in time to the Middle Ages. The intricate pattern of narrow streets, stairways and squares are full of traces of the past. One detail that catches the eye is the elegance of many of the gates facing the streets: heavy wooden doors with iron door knockers, enclosed by stone arches with carved decorations and emblems. It is the truzzulatùr, built to symbolise the importance of the family that lived in the house. A task that they have carried out diligently to this day, keeping alive the emblems of the ancient noble families.
Not to be missed
The Church of the Santissimo Salvatore is just one of the religious buildings in the village. It is not the oldest, but it certainly is the most important. The circular carvings that decorate its façade are intriguing, but it is on the interior that history enthusiasts can find plenty to interest them: the side chapels of the church show the same decorations and emblems dedicated to the village's most influential families, providing new elements to understand the history and society of ancient Caggiano.
A bit of history
Interesting archaeological discoveries, including pottery, ornaments, sculpture fragments, memorial stones and altars, have traced the origins of the village back to the 8th and 7th centuries BC. It is assumed that the present name derives from a settlement built on the remains of Ursentum, named Caiano and then Caggiano by the residents in the early Renaissance. After having been an important Roman fortified settlement, Caggiano gained notoriety in the 10th century when the Normans, led by Robert the Guiscard (the first king of the Norman dynasty), built the magnificent castle that today dominates the entire village.
Good to know
In ancient times, this small village was a stop on the way to Jerusalem for pilgrims and Templars. It was precisely the Templars who had built a mansio (an official stopping place on a Roman road) at Sant'Agnese. Today, the building no longer exists, but the memory of the knights' presence remains intact thanks to the symbols that can be found here and there in the village. There is also a legend according to which, for a time, a stone from the Temple of Jerusalem was placed outside the church of Santa Maria dei Greci.
Credit to: Gianfranco Vitolo