Vinchiaturo, Province of Campobasso, Molise
The small center rises between two hills, the seats of a monastery and a castle, in a landscape of thick forests, surrounded by the Matese mountains on the one side and the Sannio mountains on the other, amid hills sloping down towards the plains.
- Altitude: 629 m a.s.l
- Territory: mountainous
- Population: about 3300 inhabitants in 2017
- Zip/postal code: 86019
- Dialing Area Code: +39 0874
- Patron Saint: St. Bernardino da Siena, celebrated on 20 May
- Frazioni & Localities: Coste, Masseria Spensieri, Monteverde, Santa Maria delle Macchie, Valle.
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History - Antiquity
According to some historians the origin of the place is to be found in the ancient Samnite town of Ruffirium, built on a steep, almost inaccessible calcareous rock, near the current Monteverde hill. After being defeated by the Romans, Ruffirium changed its name into "Vincula Catenis" (=prison with chains), since there was a kind of concentration camp where the Romans imprisoned the rebel Samnites. In memory of this episode, the coat of arms of the town features a crenellated tower, on the sides of which two large chains hang.
History - the Middle Ages and Modern Times
About 650 AD, a Benedictine monastery was founded, the abbey of Monteverde, an important center of culture and craftswork, especially stone-carving, around which a village was built. In the following centuries the monastery was hit by earthquakes: in 1349, then the 1456 ruinous earthquake which destroyed the monastery, sparing however the church. Another earthquake in 1688 obliged the monks to move away, and finally the 1805 earthquake completely destroyed what was still left, devastating the area. Following this destruction, the peasants and shepherds who for centuries had lived around the Benedictine center resettled definitively to the valley.
The economy still relies on agriculture, dairy products, firewood, and on small industries of ceramic, glass and iron. More recently tourism has been growing especially in the summer, when Vinchiaturo is a favorite starting point for excursions into the mountains.
What to see
- The church of Santa Maria di Guglieto, ruins. Located in Monteverde Hill it dates back to very ancient times, since there is a record of an enlargement of the pristine chapel in 689 by Deuferio Frangipane from San Pietro Avellana, then the Abbey was built in 1058 by Leucius, a Benedictine friar.
- On Monte la Rocca, at an altitude of almost 4000 feet, ceramic pieces of the Samnite period and stones of Roman times were found, part of a walled fortress about 1800 ft long, and at some points still over 6 ft high. This was probably a fortress controlling both the road from Campobasso to Sepino and the two shepherds' tracks of Pescasseroli-Candela and Lucera-Castel di Sangro.
- The Monastery of Santa Lucia, 17th century. Inside there are interesting frescoes and part of the cloister.
Events and Festivities
- La Pezza de Casce, at Carnival, in Piazza Municipio, a traditional team competition where instead of a football the players have to move, by force of biceps, a piece of about thirty kilos of Parmesan, along an itinerary established for centuries.