Rocchetta a Volturno, Province of Isernia, Molise
The landscape around Rocchetta a Volturno, from the Meta to the Mainarde mountains and the springs of the Volturno river is a natural scenery of astonishing beauty, partly reminiscent of the valleys of Switzerland, though adding to the natural beauty a rich, important past.
- Altitude: 552 m a.s.l
- Population: about 1000 inhabitants
- Zip/postal code: 86070
- Dialing Area Code: +39 0865
- Patron Saint: Saints Assunta
- Frazioni & Localities: Castelnuovo al Volturno.
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The original borough of Rocchetta Alta was almost abandoned after WW2 and a landslide furtherly endangered the constructions, so most of the population now live in Rocchetta Nuopva, down in the plain. Tourist come in great numbers to walk the alleys of this 20th century Pompei, a ghost town speaking silently of a not too faraway past.
Originally the settlement was called "Vaccareccia", and belonged to the Abbey of San Vincenzo al Volturno. After a destruction by the Saracens, Abbot Marino of San Vincenzo convinced some families from his native Atina to settle in the territory of Rocchetta Alta, in order to defend the abbey against further invasions. The Abbey lost the possession of the area in the 15th century in favor of the Caldora family. Then in 1442 Antonio Caldora lost Rocchetta after his betrayal of king Alfonso I of Aragon. The new lord was the Venafro Count Francesco Pandone, then other families followed until in 1725 Candido Battiloro took possession of the fiefdom, and his family kept it until feudalism was abolished.
Rocchetta, after a massive emigration to the USA, especially the areas of Chicago and Philadelphia, is now enjoying a rebirth in the name of green tourism and the rise of many agritourist farms, favored by the unspoiled nature, the wealth of monuments, the genuine food and ancient traditions.
What to see
- The church of Santa Maria delle Grotte, in the countryside, in the romanesque style and dating back to the 8th century AD. Inside 13th century frescoes
- The Battiloro Castle, built on the rock over Rocchetta Alta, almost abandoned when the population moved downhill to Rocchetta Nuova, che ebbe inizio subito dopo i bombardamenti durante la II guerra mondiale, e continuò alcuni anni dopo a causa di un movimento franoso che mise a repentaglio la sicurezza della popolazione.
- The church of San Vincenzo, about 2 km from the springs of the Volturno river, rising next to the ancient Abbey rebuilt in the 12th century on the opposite bank of the river. The original Abbey had been founded in the 8th century, according to the tradition, by three monks from Benevento, Paldus, Tatus and Tasus. Hundreds of monks in the following centuries greatly influenced the history of this part of Italy, keeping copies of ancient books and introducing crafts, agriculture and farming. The history of the abbey was told in the Chronicon Vulturnense, written by monk Giovanni. The greatest splendor was in the 9th century, when the territories of the abbey included large parts of Molise, Lazio and Campania, and a wealth of work of arts and precious illuminated manuscripts were made.