Posts Tagged ‘Samnites’


Raphael offered to take us to see some ancient ruins IF we could be up and ready by 8:30am on Thursday morning.  Ugh, the thought of being showered and out of the apartment by then was distasteful BUT an opportunity to see something with Raphael, would certainly be interesting.  It was wonderful for us to see Italy through the eyes of an Italian who spoke English.  We knew how lucky we were to find not one, or two but three locals to  whom we could turn to when only English would do and not my fragmented Italian.

So  armed with cups of strong Italian coffee, we took off for parts unknown.  Peter let me sit in the front which was a bonus and a tribulation.  I got to listen to and speak to Raphael easier than if I sat in the back BUT as we careened down the mountain’s curved roads and through some very narrow little villages and more mountain roads, I clung to the armrest on the door of his little Fiat.

We arrived to a time and place that up till now only existed in ancient history books.  It was a beautiful sunny morning and this national landmark was open to all at any time.  No parking lots, no tickets to buy, no lines to stand in – just history in its purest form!

Altilia was an ancient Samnite town in south central Italy.  This area was heavily invaded and within the walls of this town, you can see influence from Romans and Greeks as well.  Although the ruins are not outstanding, it was the most serene place to be on sunny late spring morning.


Look closely and you can see the image of a bird’s head and beak.


One of my favorite photos showing the aqueduct system running through the foundations of the houses. Hot water ran under the stone homes to heat them in the winter.


Some pillars are still standing from one of the two temples in Altilia. Temples to Jupiter and Apollo had been erected there.


The remains of the town’s amphitheater remain fairly intact.


Imagine these walls, built so long ago that the town itself was captured by the Romans in 293 BC

I learned so much about Sepino (Altilia formerly) from Raphael – I have to repeat how lucky we were to have his company and expertise guiding us through these ancient ruins.  He is a very intellectual man, a former professor and a student of sociology and philosophy.

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Finally we were going to explore the medieval city and we are so lucky that a relative of Pasquale, Raphael will guide us.  He is a very learned gentleman who is a professor and someone who has an extensive knowledge of history and a keen interest in philosophy.

Raphael actually lived in the walled city when he was growing up.  His memories are vivid as he pointed out where he lived and where his grandmother lived.  He shared an immense amount of historic facts with us as we wended our way through alleys (which at one time were streets) and up and down steps.  The doorways were particularly interesting to me (as you will see from the photos).  

The history of the medieval city and its evolvement begins with the fact that much of South Central Italy was heavily invaded.  Throughout the early centuries, Etruscans, Romans, Greeks, Samnites, as well as a Gallic invasion.  Thus a walled city, often with a castle, became the prevalent manner of establishing and protecting a village.  Raphael told us that EVERYBODY  lived within the walls of the city.  They were a people married to the land, agriculture was the main industry.  He pointed out where interior houses were, those that did not have a lot of light and no view of the mountains.  Their homes were not houses in the sense we know – they were more like apartments contained in the stone structures which make up the medieval city.   He showed us where the farmers would come back from the fields with their donkeys and that the donkeys spent the night within the walls also.  Many of the ground floor doors were actually gates for the stables that housed everyone’s donkey.

As we traverse the stairs and steps, I feel late afternoon jet lag beginning to take hold.  But we’re not done yet.  We visited the beautiful Church of the Ascension and  then….   To be continued…..


View of Guardia Sanframondi. You can clearly see the old town and parts of the new town built around it.


Most Of The Medieval City Has Been Abandoned.


These Doors Do Have Character


Steps, Stairs and Arches of the Medieval City.


Beautiful restoration. Doors to one of the newly-renovated and inhabited property in the Medieval city


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