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Padula, Province of Salerno, Campania

Info

  • Altitude: 699 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 4900 inhabitants in 2022
  • Zip/postal code: 84034, 84030
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0975
  • Patron Saint: san Michele Arcangelo celebrated on 29 September
  • Frazioni: Ascolese, Caiazzano, Cardogna, Contrada Principe, Volta Cammino, Sterpone +
  • Demonym: padulesi

Genealogy & Links

Demographics - Number of Inhabitants in Census Years

1861: 7041
1871: 9307
1881: 8938
1901: 5114
1911: 4581
1921: 4528
1931: 5253
1936: 5528
1951: 7030
1961: 6773
1971: 5941
1981: 5749
1991: 5623
2001: 5403
2011: 5279
2021: 4972

History

The name of Padula derives from the Latin palus, paludis, i.e. swamp, through the transposition of the letters d and l ; in fact in antiquity in the plain below the settlement there was a swamp. The earliest human settlements date back to the 12th century BC, when Cosilinum, the ancient Padula, was probably founded by the Oenotrians. Occupied first by the Lucanians, then by the Romans, the town sided with Pyrrhus and Hannibal against the Romans and suffered the consequences. A rebirth occurred with the construction of the Via Popilia-Annia, which connected it to Paestum and Velia; finally in 89 BC. it became a Roman municipality.

In the 6th century AD the monastery of San Nicola was built, and it would remain a political and spiritual center for a long time. The cult of Saint Michael spread, perhaps a transformation of the cult of the pagan god Attis, who became the patron saint of the town, in whose honor the mother church was built; also in the late medieval period the abbey of San Nicola al Torone was built.

At the beginning of the 10th century the ancient town had been completely abandoned following Saracen raids. The arrival of the Normans led to the introduction of feudalism and the influence of the Basilian monks greatly diminished. In 1296 Tommaso Sanseverino was commissioned by Charles II of Anjou to provide for the defense of the city, an imposing wall was built from the bastions of the castle to the precipice, making the town impenetrable. Banditry and epidemics pushed the population of the rural centers further down the valley to take refuge in better defended places. Thus the area around the castle developed with the church of San Clemente, a public hospital, the seat of the city government, and several palaces. The Sanseverinos favored the establishment of monastic orders in the Padula area, with the repopulation of the monastery of San Nicola al Torone and the foundation of the Certosa di San Lorenzo (1306).

From the 16th to the 18th century, Padula saw various feudal lords who did not live in the town, which did not favor economic and social development. Furthermore, the frequent floods and the absence of sewage systems favored the spread of epidemics. A flood in 1839 destroyed two thirds of the territory of Padula, a situation aggravated by a strong earthquake in 1857, events which pushed a large part of the population to emigrate. Thus a migratory flow towards the Americas began which, around the beginning of the 20th century, had already halved the local population.

In the 20th century the Certosa monastery, abandoned for about a century, became a concentration camp for deserters and prisoners between 1915 and 1921, an English labor camp between 1943 and 1945; it was also home to an orphanage for the children of war victims, created by Barnabite father Giovanni Semeria. During the Second World War Padula was used by the fascist authorities for the internment of Jewish refugees, who were finally freed with the arrival of the Allied army in September 1943. The economic-civil fabric was destroyed by the Second World War, so much so that a second wave of migration began, this time towards Northern Italy, Central Europe and Latin America.

What to see

  • The Certosa of Padula, or San Lorenzo, is the first to have arisen in Campania. It occupies an area of 51,500 sq mt, arranged over three cloisters, a garden, a courtyard and a church. It is the largest charterhouse in Italy and among the largest in Europe. Since 1957 it has hosted the provincial archaeological museum of western Lucania; in 1998 it was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO together with the nearby archaeological sites of Velia, Paestum, Vallo di Diano and the Cilento national park.
  • The House of Joe Petrosino (Padula, 30 August 1860 - Palermo, 12 March 1909), an Italian naturalized American policeman, a pioneer in the fight against organized crime, whose techniques are still practiced today by the police.
  • The archaeological excavations of ancient Cosilinum, the Hermitage of San Michele alle Grottelle and the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Fonti or of Marcelliano (4th century), an ancient early Christian baptistery founded on a pre-existing pagan temple.
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