Itinerary no. 3: Lauro, Avella, Montevirgine

This third itinerary leaves Tufo around 9 in the morning and will have you back by 6 or so. In a 139 km loop, about 3 hours’ of driving total, you can visit the towns of Lauro and Avella, and the ancient monastery at the top of Montevirgine, the highest point in Irpinia. Check out the Google Map below, and feel free to click the “more options” button to open up a new tab and take a closer look.

One of the most enchanting and most visited historical residences in Campania is the Lancelot Castle, situated in the town of Lauro.  The Castle was constructed in the 11th Century on a rock called “First Stone” because the Castle was built on the remains of a previous structure that dates back to the Roman times.     

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Lauro

During the night of April 30, 1799, during the reign of the Signoria of the Lancelots, the Castle was burned by the French troops, who were intervening to placate a local uprising of the anti-republicans. After this episode, the area was left abandoned until 1870, the year that , due to the wishes of Prince Don Philip Maximillian Lancelot, it was reconstructed in several architectural styles:  Gothic, Renaissance, Neo-classic and Baroque.  The structure was inaurgurated on August 25, 1870, during the festival for the patron saints.  Currently, the structure is the home of a historical museum, but it is also used as an exclusive location for private events and cultural activities.

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Avella

Avella is among the most ancient towns in the province of Avellino.  Today, we can admire the Roman amphitheater, the Roman tombs, and the ancient fortress castle of the town, which was constructed at the highest point of the town in order to dominate all the surrounding area.  Check out the wikipedia page here. At the end of town begins the massive mountainous region of Partenio, which leads to the Monastery of Montevergine. 

Montevergine
Montevirgine, under snow

Montevirgine means mountain of the virgin.  But, the ancient and high Medieval name of the town, according to the manuscripts preserved in the monastery, was “Virgil’s Mountain”, in that it was believed that the Latin poet Virgil had a garden there.  Only after the founding and consecration of the Christian church was the mountain renamed and dedicated to the  Virgin Mary, probably because of the converging of the names and operations. 

The official origins of the church date back to its first consecration  in 1126.  However the ascension of Guglielmo to the mountain was several years earlier.  The Sanctuary of Montevergine is a monastic Marianist complex in the town of Mercoliano, situated in the Montevergine area.  The monastic territory of Montevergine is one of six monastic territories in Italy.  In its interior is a painting of the Madonna of Montevergine, which is venerated by the 1.5 million pilgrims who visit the site each year. Wikipedia page here.

 

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