Gerione Castle

In what year does Campagna rise? Where does your people come from? Where does his story really begin?
Probably these are the three questions that have given life to our curiosities, to our continuous desire to deepen and know our history, we are convinced that the answers to those questions reside in the place that we will tell you shortly.
From the beginning of time, events and happenings have always plagiarized the second following the moment that generated them, of course this also applied to us. We campagnesi are illustrious descendants of that culture which probably, together with Ancient Rome, most of all influenced the very long future they had before them, the "Magna Graecia".
And as such, we have demonstrated from the very beginning, an intense growth not only urban, but also human and cultural, but above all it was immediately evident that the geography of the territory did not appear as a large urban agglomeration, but in many more settlements. parts of the territory, as it still appears today. The primordial Campagna was born on the banks of the Sele river, in the areas that today they call Tuori and Saginara, most likely for the ease of navigation of its waters.
Soon, they became important hubs for the various river trade, settlements which, however, very often were forced to move due to the war events of the period and as they went up the valley to seek greater protection in the innermost areas, precisely towards the mountainous part. they moved towards today's town of Oppidi, then Serradarce, which was transformed into a defensive fortress for the new village that was rising on the roads leading to Puglie (hence the name of today's Puglietta) until they were "forced "To go further up the slope taking refuge, towards the year one thousand, due to the incursions of the Barbarians in the" valley hidden in the mountains "(Old Town) by building a new fortress castle on the hill overlooking the Valley del Sele, the Girone hill.
The castle stood on an area of ​​3000 square meters, it probably took its name from the latter and its derivation, "Girolo or Girone" meant the possibility that it provided to go around the valley, the first documentary evidence dates back to year 1056.
In an instrument preserved in the abbey of SS. Trinità di Cava de 'Tirreni, there is a clear reference to the " Castellum Campaniae " (Castello di Campagna) with evidence that already highlighted the presence of mills close to the Tenza and Atri rivers, which hinted at above all that at the time the inhabited center already presented itself with a certain caliber.
Campagna until the sixteenth century already had several districts, to the north in addition to the Girolo, there were the Pianello, that of San Nicola with the church dedicated to Santa Caterina 1 , San Tommaso, San Lagaria, Sant 'Andrea, San Leone and San Bartolomeo, to the south stood the districts of Zappino, Santa Maria della Giudeca and that of the Trinity.
As mentioned, the building had a propensity for defensive attitudes, fortified and enlarged over the centuries, it presented itself with a drawbridge, crenellated towers, "mouths of fire", resistant to numerous attacks so as to be defined in ancient texts " impregnable and impregnable fortress "both for its strategic position and for the control of the mountainous paths but also and above all for its means of defense that it had in its endowment.
With the Assize of Capua in 1220 the Castle was acquired by the Royal Property by Frederick II of Swabia, passing directly to the Emperor and thus being included among the Castra Exempta or among the main fortifications of the kingdom .
Years later, precisely on January 9, 1269, King Charles of Anjou gave the order to the castellan of Campagna to hand over the castle in its entirety to his son-in-law Roberto, son of the Count of Flanders 2 .
In 1300 an expansion of the perimeter of the castle was carried out, with the consequent wall fortification as well as the construction of towers and drawbridges, present in the structure there was even a human-powered oil mill unlike those with animal traction present in the inhabited center. br /> Its reputation as a fortification was therefore justified not only by its position but also by the possibilities of attack and defense that allowed the numerous "mouths of fire" present there.
Clear examples are certainly the choice of the stay, albeit for a short period, even of a pope, Urban VI stayed there when, fleeing from the attacks of Nocera due to the " Great Schism " that he had to face the Santa Romana Chiesa, chose our fortification as an intermediate stop before reaching the castle of Buccino and again, when the war between the French and the Spanish was rekindled in 1502, the latter victorious results, left their military garrison in the structure.
The great value of the castle has lasted over the centuries, with the succession of the fiefdom from the Orsini to the Grimaldis of Monaco in 1532, it was estimated at 50,000 gold ducats, an enormous figure for the time. .
Unfortunately, however, the situation began to change when, in 1555, by order of the Spanish Royal Court, a substantial disarmament of the castle was ordered to provide ready armaments to Sant'Agata di Puglia to better defend those territories that at the time needed more military attention than to the countryside, considered safer. Marking a slow and inexorable decline.
After disarming him, he was assigned another role, initially as a criminal court, later as a harsh prison for the prelates persecuted by Rome.
The final dismantling took place because of a silent enemy and much stronger than all the attacks and armies he had repulsed over the centuries, human neglect.
Although in a document of the late seventeenth century where the castle was with the walls almost intact and with only the roof in ruins, the final epilogue took place in 1642, when the Pironti family, freshly awarded the fiefdom of Campagna, instead of financing and promoting maintenance and conservation actions of the place, he decided to tear down some walls 3 probably considered unsafe for the reason (absolutely disrespectful for its importance) " ... That the fort was now only a former fortress reduced to a few functional factories with many ruins and looming over the built-up area of ​​the time. " 4 .
In 1925, the then bishop of our diocese Mons. Carmine Cesarano wanted to install an imposing cross on the occasion of the Holy Year .
Today, despite the possibility of enjoying breathtaking panoramas and views from this "natural window" that juts out over Campagna and the whole Piana del Sele, the former fortress is reduced to a few ruins, absolute and long-lived witnesses of the origins of our lineage, regardless of human neglect, they are undoubtedly remains of the cradle that gave life to our beloved Campagna, where everything was great and glorious, as is the story of the Gerione Castle just told.

Text by Cristian Viglione.
Revisions: Francesco Pezzuti.

1. Valentino Izzo - Telling the Campaign ... Illustrious people. - VOL. A - 2006
2. Valentino Izzo - Telling the Campaign ... Illustrious people. - VOL. A - 2006
3. Valentino Izzo - Telling the Campaign ... Illustrious people. - VOL. A - 2006
4. Valentino Izzo - Telling the Campaign ... Famous people. - VOL. A - 2006


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