|Comune di Pietraroja|
|• Mayor||Lorenzo Di Furia|
|• Total||35.7 km2 (13.8 sq mi)|
|Elevation||818 m (2,684 ft)|
|Population (1 March 2009)|
|• Density||17/km2 (45/sq mi)|
|Demonym||Pietrarojesi (Petriàni in dialect)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Saint Nicola|
|Saint day||December 6|
Pietraroja is a mountain comune (municipality), rich of water sources, woods and healthy air, in the province of Benevento in Campania, southern Italy. It is c. 50 km by car from Benevento, in direction north-west, 83 km from Naples in direction north-east and c. 223 km from Rome in direction south-east.
For its altitude (818 m above s.l.) Petraroja is the second comune (municipality) of the province; it is limited to north from the western side, oasis of natural protection, of mount Mutria (1,823 m) in the southern chain of the Matese mounts (Apennines), to the border with comune of Guardiaregia in the region Molise. Its territory constitutes the high valley of the river Titerno, surrounded to north from Mutria and from Santa Crocella pass. Between these last two, in the place named "Tre Valloni", are the sources of the Titerno whose waters join with those of the torrent named "Acqua Calda" and, coasting along the buttress of Mount Mutria, they go down in the plain of Cusano Mutri passing through a canyon, delimited to north from the rocky table named Civita of Cusano Mutri and to south Civita of Pietraroja. In the Moschiaturo mountain is the source of other principal torrent, the Torbido, which crosses Métole and Potéte to east and to south of Pietraroja and flows in the plane of Civitella Licinio, hamlet of Cusano Mutri in which it meets the Titerno.
Pietraroja has Samnite origin and has occupied various sites in its territory, currently on its fourth definitive site erected after the catastrophic earthquake of June 5, 1688. Its territory is part of the central-southern zone of the Apennines included between the Mainarde mountains and the Matese massif, inhabited in the antiquity by Pentri Samnites that set their capital in Bojano.
Its inhabitants had certainly involved in the Samnite Wars as well as in social ones against Rome suffering the Pentri's genocide perpetrated by Lucius Cornelius Sulla. The Roman domination Latinized the Samnium leaving also a greatest influence on Pietraroja dialect, in which it is lost every trace of Oscan language previously spoken by Samnites. After the Roman one, Pietraroja has undergone the various dominations of Samnium (Lombard, Norman, Hohenstaufen, Angevin, Catalan-Aragonese, Spanish, etc.). After Lombard rule under the gastalds of Telese, Pietraroja was part, from the 12th to the 14th century, of the fief of the Sanframondos, a family of Norman origin. Their possessions included, among the others, the territories of Cerreto Sannita, Cusano Mutri, Pietraroja, Guardia Sanframondi, Limatola, San Lorenzo Maggiore, Massa, Faicchio, Ponte as well as Dugenta in Terra di Lavoro and Bojano and San Giuliano del Sannio in Molise. In the 15th century Pietraroja was handed over to the Marzanos family and later to Onorato Gaetani. Subsequently the town was held by the Carafa, whose possessions were also extended in Molise; they held it until the abolition of feudalism in 1806.
Pietraroja has been a centre of the Bourbon reaction after the annexation of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to that of Italy in 1861. With Guardiaregia, Sepino, Campobasso, Cusano Mutri it has been one of the centres of the brigandage of the southern massif of the Matese. In December 1863 the national guard besieged the brigands sheltered in the cave known as Cava dei Briganti and convinced them to go out, saving their lives in change. The promise was not kept and they were shot in the place named Aria corta situated behind the town building, After the unification of Italy, Pietraroja has experiment a strong emigration, especially towards the United States. After World War II, the flow directed to northern and central Italy and to Europe (Switzerland, Germany and England). The opening of a stone quarry in the place named "Canale", moreover closed subsequently, of a clay quarry in the place "Saure" no more drawn out for the cheap quality and of coloured marble quarry in the place "Pesco Rosito", open but never operating, did not reduce emigration.
The climate of Pietraroja in the summer is rarely sultry. Due to the strong gradient in its territory, from the 450 m of the place Casolla, near to the fraction "Potéte" to the 1,823 m of Mount Mutria, notable differences in temperature are present, especially in winter. In this last season the cold is sensitive, mainly on blowing of the "bora", the northern wind. Snow is frequent especially on mountain areas. In the near skiing station of Bocca della Selva (in the territory of Cusano Mutri) it is possible to practise the snow sports and horse-riding.
The main activities concern the sheep-breeding with production of exceptional handmade cheese and lambs, the bovine breeding with production of caciocavallo (called "casecavàgli" in dialect, characteristic oval cheese whose pieces are joined in couple with a rope and hanged on horizontal rods to mature them) and meat and the breeding of swines, at family level, from which are got, after desiccation to the cold and to the firewood smoke and following seasoning, the salted meats and the hams of which Pietraroja goes famous. The goodness of this latest product is note through the centuries, to this purpose in the museum of Alife, a comune in the province of Caserta, it is preserved a manuscript, going up to May 29, 1776, headed "Fornitura di prigiotta al duca di Laurenzana da Pietraroia" ("Supply of prigiotta (hams) to the duke of Laurenzana from Pietraroia"), that is the duke Gaetani of Aragon, lord of the Piedimonte feud. In addition Antonio Iamalio, speaking of Pietraroja in his work on the province of Benevento "Regina of the Sannio" (queen of Samnium in Engl.)(1918), writes: "Flourishing there is mainly the breeding of swine, from which the famous hams of Pietraroja".
Considerable is the production of hay for the livestock nourishment in stables during the winter period.
Pietraroja has a surface for agricultural use of 1797.99 hectares (as of 2000)
Its name probably derives from the Latin petra robia ("red cliff") or from the Spanish equivalent piedra roja or French pierre rouge , due to the presence of some limestone of this colour on the oriental side of the Mutria, that overhangs it.
At Pietraroja there is an important geo-paleontological park with its museum, the Paleolab, where you can see fossils of considerable importance.
Particularly important was the discovery of a baby dinosaur, the first in Italy, which also contains some internal organs: the puppy was named Cyrus by media, while his species was called Scipionyx samniticus Scipionyx samniticus. The discovery of Cyrus has revolutionized the palaeogeography of Italy, formerly held underwater during the Mesozoic era. Among other fossils found at Pietraroja, are to remember those of many fish (including Belonostomus), reptiles (Chometokadmon, Derasmosaurus) and amphibians (Celtedens).
Other sights include the parish church of S. Maria Assunta in San Nicola (patron of Pietraroja) square, in the higher part of the municipality. It was erected with elements of the pre-existing Church of San Paolo, from the old Pietraroja destroyed by the earthquake of the 1688. It has a Romanesque portal (11th century) with the two sides supported by a lioness and a feminine bear nursing two infants and the high-relieves.
The easiest place to be reached is the splendid terrace leaning against the characteristic cemetery, from which one can admire an enchanting view at 360 degrees on the territory: mount Mutria and Moschiaturo mountain, the valley of Cusano Mutri, the Solopaca mountain and also the Vesuvius in the clearest days. There are still visible construction rests of the old Pietraroja destroyed by the earthquake.
Another interesting excursion for the spectacular views is the edge circuit of the calcareous table of the “Civita”. On its southern part is placed the new one and the third Pietraroja (where is placed the actual cemetery). From its northern part one can see the impressive ravine (place called "Rave") over the fountain “Stritto” (placed in the territory of Cusano Mutri) dug during million of years by the Titerno. In this ravine is placed the inaccessible “Grotta dei Briganti” (cave of the brigands) or “Grotta delle Fate “ (cave of the fairies). The best point of observation is easily reached from the roadway in the place called “Canale”, as soon as out Pietraroja in direction of Sepino, where one needs to turn on the left and to continue toward the place "Ariòla" under the rocky massif on which the “Civita” is situated.
In proximity of Pietraroja, going down along the roadway to Cusano Mutri, taking on the left or also on the right one arrives to the place "Murrùni" from where it is possible to see the water-course of the “Torbido” stream and the places down to Pietraroja.
On the road to Sepino ( in province of Campobasso, Molise), there is the pass of “Santa Crocella”, mountain saddle with landscape of stupendous beech woods among the mountain “Tre Confini” (Three Confinements, 1.419 m above s.l.), next to the "Palombaio” (Columbary) oriental portion of mount Mutria(1.823 m above s.l.) and Moschiaturo mountain (1.470 m above s.l.). The pass marks the border between the municipalities of Pietraroja and Sepino, as well as between the provinces of Campobasso and Benevento and between Campania and Molise.
On the same roadway, about one kilometre before reaching “Santa Crocella” pass, one can visit, turning on the left, the place “Pesco Rosito” ( rosy rock in Engl.) from which was extracted the red stone that has given the name to Pietraroja. From here it is possible also to effect the scaling to the top of the "Palombaio" or to go to the wood “Torta” bordering up "Campitello", place in territory of Guardiaregia ( province of Campobasso).
From “Santa Crocella” pass, before the beech wood, taking the wide path to the right of the roadway, the scaling to the Moschiaturo mountain is easy also to not professional climbers. One reaches the fountain "Làu Pésula" ideal for picnic owing to the goodness of its spring water and the coolness of the beech wood. Just before this source the path turns to the left and climbs the “Moschiaturo” on summit of which can be admired an enchanting panorama on the high territory of Benevento.
Another excursion, not to miss for the superb panoramas on Campania and on Molise, is that on mount Mutria. Besides climbing it hardly at the centre, coasting along the big circular rocky formation named “Giumenta Bianca” ( white mare in Engl.), the easiest way is to go to the skiing place “Bocca della Selva” (mouth of the forest in Engl.), hamlet of Cusano Mutri, situated to the feet of the western part of the mountain. Reached the shelter “I tre faggi” (the 3 beech trees in Engl.) of the same place, must be taken the road on the right that climbs on the left side of the mount(called "Mutilìgliu"). Left the mean of transport at the end of the road there is the path, with the depicted signs to be followed, that leads to the central top of the mount.
The aforesaid torrential bed of the Titerno can be gone along by the trekking lovers. To this purpose it needs to go in the place named "Campusciàru" attainable from the aforesaid country road leaving from the place named “Canale”. After a few meters it turns on the right and continues for some kilometers up to the bridge on such stream in which it is possible to go down.One meets a lot of natural basins of running water (called "ùrvi" in dialect) the greatest of which are that named "Pénta" and "Ursu", this latter after a jump of many meters. It is not attainable from the bed of the stream so it needs to make the path that follows on the left the same stream.
Another trekking run is the ascent of "Torbido" stream, tributary of the Titerno, the bed of that passes below the "Potéte" hamlet. To reach it one needs to take the road to Cusano Mutri and, in the place "Vigne", to turn to the left and to go down for the road to "Potéte". Arrived at the bottom, before the bridge on "Torbido", one takes to climb its bed. It is possible to see the plant that brought the water to the stone tub of the old mill of Pietraroja and to reach the water basin called "Cùru de la Cucózza" (bottom of pumpkin).
These are the main itineraries that nevertheless don't exhaust the runs can be done because the great vastness of Pietraroja territory. In these excursions it is possible to meet with the interesting local flora and fauna.
Cannot be passed under silence the lot of fountains of Pietraroja, furnishing fresh and light water, so diuretic and detoxifying, near which to have pleasant picnics. Neglecting those in the centre, the nearest are that close at the geo-paleontological museum and that in the place "Canale" as soon as out Pietraroja, to the left of the road to Sepino where are also present seats.Going on the same road, after a kilometre about, one meets on the right the fountain of the "Salice" (willow) near the buildings of the place "Cesamari". Proceeding forward, after the second cross-road, taking the direction to Morcone one meets the attended fountain of the "Radica" (root) that takes water from the water-bearing stratum of the Moschiaturo mountain ("Rufènza" in dialect).These fountains are comfortably reached, wanting however to enjoy water sources plunged in suggestive woods one needs to make also some way on foot. In precedence it is already said how to reach, departing from the "Santa Crocella" pass, the fountain "Làu Pesola" at the foot of the Moschiaturo mountain. Climbing on this last, following the path before described, in the place "Valle Grande" (wide valley in Engl.,"Vàlle rànna" in dial.) is found the very cold fountain called "Cursarégliu". To arrive there, once reached the peak, one takes the comfortable path in direction of the confinements of Sepino walking about a kilometre. Interesting is also the fountain of the "Tasso" (yew tree), that is found in the place "Filette" ("Fulètte" in dial.); at the first cross of the road to Sepino, on the left one takes the direction that brings to "Bocca della Selva".
Flora and fauna
Among the trees in Pietraroja's territory are the beeches ("fài" in dialect), the oaks ("cèrque"), the chestnut trees, the maples, the minor maples ("ócchi"), the elms ("ùrmi"), the firs and the pines (not native of the place), the poplars ("chiùppi), the ashes, the flowering ashes, the Turkey oaks, the lindens ("téglie"), the filbert trees ("ullàne"), the willows ("sàuci"), the osiers, ("vétèche") the wild apple-trees ("melàini"), the wild pear-trees ("peràini"), the ilexes ("ìuci"), the yew-trees, the junipers ("inépri") and the hollies ("arifógli").
Among the grassy and woody plants are aromatic marjoram ("mairàna" in dialect), oregano, thyme, wild fennel ("fenùcchiu"), anise ("pimpinèlla"), wild mint ("menta sàuza")], those edible chicory, asparagus ("spàracu"), sprout of butcher's broom, water cress ("cannea"), borage ("urràccia"), edible thistle ("càrdu chìnu")], those with edible fruits [the 2 kinds of blackberry bush with the corresponding fruits ("murrìcule"), the raspberries, the strawberries ("fràule"), the cornels ("vrignàli"), the hawthorn prunellas ("trìnche")], those medicinal valerian ("valleriàna"), angelic, gentian, gentianella, camomile ("cammumìlla"), hyssop ("isópu"), milfoil, the flowers dogrose ("rosa janàra"), hollyhock ("mmàrva"), althaea ("malvónu"), wild carnation, iris, cyclamen ("scocciapiàtti"), snowdrop, broom ("jnéstra"), poppy ("papàgnu"), daisy wheel, sweet violet ("viulètta"), primrose ("viòla iànca")], those poisonous belladonna, hemlock, hellebore, equisetum ("córa de órba"), mistletoe ("viscògna")]. Other plants of considerable diffusion are the red thorn ("spinapóce"), the masculine and feminine ferns, the elder ("sammùcu") and the wild elder ("mùnnegliu"), the rush ("jùncu"), the euphorbia ("tutumàglia"), the ivy ("èllera"), the wild carrot, the mercurial grass ("èrva mercurèlla"), the ononis spinosa ("rumàca"), the bittersweet ("turcamàra"), the soap-plant ("èrva sapunàra"), the arctium lappa ("cazzarégli"), the welted thistle, the carding thistle, the absinth ("nascénzu"), the rumex ("lampàzzu"), the verbascum,the wild turnip ("rapèsta"), the dandelion ("cicòria paròla").
The recoverable edible fungi are the agaric ("virno"), the field mushroom ("petranùgliu"), the craterellus ("scardarella"), chanterelle ("gaglinella"), the honey mushroom ("chiuìttu"), the cauliflower mushroom ("retélla"), the parasol mushroom, the Caesar's mushroom, the penny bun or boletus edulis and others not picked up by the inhabitants.
Also the fauna once numerous, reduced by hunting, is slowly recovered after the institution of protected oasis. Birds include eagle and the crow. Currently they are still found the goshawk ("rastarégliu" in dialect), the magpie ("pica"), the blackbird ("mérgliu"), the thrush ("tùrdu"), the woodpecker ("tòcculacèrqua), the cuckoo ("cucùru"), the crow ("ciàula"), the wagtail ("ciùcciapannèlla"), the wood-lark ("calandrèlla"),the robin ("pétturùssu"), the goldfinch ("cardìgliu"), the Common Chaffinch ("frungìgliu), the blackcap ("capunéra"), the thrush ("tùrdu), the missel thrush (" tardèca") the nightingale ("rasciagnogliu"), the swallow ("rundinèlla"), the sparrow ("pàssaru"), the bat ("sparpagliónu"), the owl ("cuccuàina"), the long-eared owl ("àsciu").
Among the mammals are the wild boar, the fox ("òrba"), the badger ("tasciola"), the dormouse ("agliéri"), the hedgehog, the weasel ("nìzzela"), the mole ("tupanàra") and others can be seen. Other present kinds are the tree-frog, the green lizard, the toad ("óttu"), the snail (the white one and that great ochre)("ciammétta"), the water snake and the viper. Even if it is interesting, one pass over a lot of kinds of insects elsewhere disappeared for the intensive agriculture. One finally signalises the presence of trout and crayfishes in the torrents; these last, once present, are now in phase of reintroduction.
Pietraroja has also been hometown of wizards and witches (called janàre in the local dialect).
1.^ The Samnites wars: http://xoomer.alice.it/davmonac/sanniti/smguerrey.html 2.^ (P. Bello, Dizionario del dialetto di Pietraroja, http://www.ilc.it/dizionario_pietraroja.pdf, http://www.vesuvioweb.com/it/2012/10/pierino-bello-vocabolario-del-dialetto-di-pietraroja/, http://www.vesuvioweb.com/it/2012/10/pierino-bello-grammatica-del-dialetto-di-pietraroja/) 3.^ (Italian) (Comune di Cusano Mutri: Storia - Briganti e partigiani, http://www.comunecusanomutri.it/Arch_Storia_locale/Briganti_e_Partigiani/index.htm 4.^ Storie di brigantaggio (stories of brigandage) http://www.pietraroja.galtiterno.it/ 5.^ D.Marrocco, Parchments and manuscripts of Alife museum http://asmvpiedimonte.altervista.org/Quaderni_Cultura/pergamene-Manoscritti-%20Museo-Alifano.html 6.^ Antonio Iamalio: Regina del Sannio, P. Federico & G. Ardia, Naples, 1918. 7.^ Chamber of Commerce of Benevento, data and figures, May 2007. 8.^ ( Il Paleo-Lab di Pietraroja http://www.provincia.benevento.it/pags. php?name=arte_e_turismo/scipionyx
- The Samnites wars: http://xoomer.alice.it/davmonac/sanniti/smguerrey.html
- (P. Bello, Dizionario del dialetto di Pietraroja, http://www.ilc.it/dizionario_pietraroja.pdf , http://www.vesuvioweb.com/new/article.php3?id_article=1329 )
- (Italian) (Comune di Cusano Mutri: Storia - Briganti e partigiani, http://www.comunecusanomutri.it/Arch_Storia_locale/Briganti_e_Partigiani/index.htm
- Storie di brigantaggio (stories of brigandage) http://www.pietraroja.galtiterno.it/
- D.Marrocco, Parchments and manuscripts of Alife museum http://asmvpiedimonte.altervista.org/Quaderni_Cultura/pergamene-Manoscritti-%20Museo-Alifano.html
- Antonio Iamalio: Regina del Sannio, P. Federico & G. Ardia, Naples, 1918.
- Chamber of Commerce of Benevento, data and figures, May 2007.
- ( Il Paleo-Lab di Pietraroja http://www.provincia.benevento.it/pags. php?name=arte_e_turismo/scipionyx
- Antonio Iamalio, La Regina del Sannio, P. Federico & G. Ardia, Naples 1918.
- Mario D'Agostino, La reazione borbonica in provincia di Benevento, II ed. Fratelli Conte Editori, Naples, 2005
- Rosario Di Lello, Brigantaggio sul Matese, i fatti del 1809 in Pietraroja, in Rivista Storica del Sannio, Benevento, Tip. De Toma, II, I(1984) pp. 25–36
- Di Lello, Rosario (22 October 2000). "Santa Croce in silva Sepini e Pietraroja in un contratto del 1274". Il Sannio (Benevento: Pagine Sannite) V: p. 11.
- Rosario Di Lello, "Le feste di S. Nicola in Pietraroja, tradizione e storia", in Annuario 1986, Associazione Storica del Medio Volturno (A.S.M.V., http://asmvpiedimonte.altervista.org/ )1987 pp. 143–148