Archelogical remains show the human presence since the late Paleolithic Age along the Clanio. In the 8th century BC the ancient Abella was under the influence of the Etruscans and Greeks who had settled in Paestum and Neapolis, as well as the influence of the fierce Samnite peoples of the Apennines.
In the 3rd century BC Abella was a Roman municipium, as documented in the Oscan inscription of the "Cippus Abellanus", presently kept in Nola. During the social war of the Italic peoples against Rome, Abella was destroyed in 87 BC by the Nolans for being faithful to the Romans.
An important cultural center throughout the Roman empire, it was sacked by the barbarians in 410 AD and again in 455 AD, and the population took refuge in the mountains. The city rose again under the Lombards, creating the quarters of San Pietro, Corta Lupino, Farrio, Cortabucci around a castle.Among later feudal lords were the Del Balzo, Orsini, Colonna, Spinelli and Doria del Carretto families.