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For other uses, see Nola (disambiguation).
Metropolitan City of Naples
Coat of arms of Nola
Coat of arms
Nola is located in Italy
Location of Nola in Italy
Coordinates: 40°55′33.9″N 14°31′38.8″E / 40.926083°N 14.527444°E / 40.926083; 14.527444Coordinates: 40°55′33.9″N 14°31′38.8″E / 40.926083°N 14.527444°E / 40.926083; 14.527444
Country Italy
Region Campania
Frazioni Boscofangone, Cappella degli Spiriti, Casamarciano, Castelcicala, Catapano, Cinquevie, De Siervo, Eremo dei Camaldoli, Martiniello, Mascello, Mascia, Pagliarone, Piazzola, Piazzolla, Pigna Spaccata, Pollastri, Polvica, Poverello, Provisiero, Sarnella
 • Mayor Geremia Biancardi
 • Total 39 km2 (15 sq mi)
Population (1 April 2009)
 • Total 32,863
 • Density 840/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Nolani
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 80035 and 80037
Dialing code 081
Patron saint St. Felix Martyr
Saint day November 15
Website Official website

Nola is an ancient Campanian town and a modern municipality in the Metropolitan City of Naples in Italy. It lies on the plain between Mount Vesuvius and the Apennines. It is traditionally credited as diocese that introduced bells to Christian worship. Illegal dumping of toxic wastes by the Camorra, however, has turned the surrounding area into a "Triangle of Death", with cancer rates far above the European average.



Main article: Nola-Croce del Papa

Excavations at Nola-Croce del Papa have uncovered extensive evidence of a small village quickly abandoned at the time of the Avellino Eruption in the 17th century BC. This powerful eruption from Mount Vesuvius caused the inhabitants to leave behind a wide range of pottery and other artifacts. The foundations of their buildings are also preserved in imprints among the mud left by the eruption.[citation needed]


British Museum
A 2nd-century bronze parade mask found in a Roman tomb at Nola[1]

Nola was one of the oldest cities of Campania, with its most ancient coins bearing the name Nuvlana. It was later said to have been founded by the Ausones, who were certainly occupying the city by c. 560 BC. It once vied in luxury with Capua.[citation needed] During the Roman invasion of Naples in 328 BC, Nola was probably occupied by the Oscans in alliance with the Samnites. Amid the Samnite War, the Romans took the town in 311 BC.[citation needed]

Under Roman rule, the city was the site of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battles of Nola during Hannibal's invasion of Italy amid the Second Punic War. On two occasions (215 and 214 BC), it was defended by Marcellus. It fell by treason to the Samnites during the Social War. They held it until their ally Gaius Marius was defeated by Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who subjugated it with the rest of Samnium in 80 BC. It was stormed by Spartacus during his failed slave revolt. The emperors Augustus died there on 19 August AD 14. He and Vespasian settled colonies in the area. In the Roman road network, Nola lay between Capua and Lower Nocera on the Via Popilia. A branch road ran from it to Abella and Avellino.[3] Though a relative backwater, Nola retained its status as a municipium, its own institutions, and the use of the Oscan language. It was divided into pagi, the names of some of which are preserved: Pagus Agrifanus, Capriculanus, Lanitanus. The discoveries of the pavement of the ancient city have not been noted with sufficient care to recover most of the plan, but a large number of Grecian vases were made at Nola, using its fine yellow clay and a shining black glaze. They are decorated with red figures.

Following the rise of Christianity, it became a bishopric. One bishop, the Christian senator Paulinus, is traditionally credited with the introduction of the use of bells to Christian worship.[4] His small handbells were subsequently known as nolas for his seat and the larger tower bells as campanas from the surrounding area.[4] Revered as a saint, Paulinus's relics turned the town into a site of Christian pilgrimage.

Middle Ages[edit]

Nola was sacked by Alaric in 410 and by the Vandals under Gaiseric in 453. It was raided by Muslim invaders in 904 and captured by Manfred of Sicily in the 13th century. Under Charles of Anjou, it was held by Guy de Montfort as the County of Nola. It was inherited by his eldest daughter's Orsini husband and then held by members of their family.


The 1459 Battle of Nola is noteworthy for the clever strategem by which Stephen of Anjou defeated Alfonso of Aragon. The town subsequently lost its importance after its repeated destruction by earthquakes in the 15th and 16th centuries. The nearby Cicala Castle was the birthplace of Giordano Bruno (b. 1548).

In 1820, General Pepe's revolution began in Nola. The sculptor Giovanni Merliano was a native of the city; and some of his works are preserved in the cathedral.

Today, Nola is an important suburb of Naples but most of its territory and economy are under the control of the Camorra, a branch of the Mafia. A major Camorra activity is the illegal—and unsafe—treatment of urban, chemical, and industrial wastes in the countryside located in the region between Nola, Acerra, and Marigliano. This formerly rich and green countryside is sometimes now called the "Triangle of Death". A 2004 study by Alfredo Mazza published in The Lancet Oncology revealed that deaths by cancer in the area are much higher than the European average.[citation needed]


Although Roman ruins—including an amphitheater and temple to Augustus—survived as long as the 16th century, they were then plundered for building material and few signs remain. A few tombs are preserved, and results from excavations are displayed at the Archaeological Museum. Other sites include:

  • The Gothic cathedral (enthroned 1593, restored 1866 and 1870)
  • St Thomas's (Basilica di San Tommaso; built in the 3rd century, decorated with frescoes 9–11th century, later renovated)
  • Old Cathedral (Basilica of SS Apostoli; according to tradition, first built AD 95, rebuilt 1190, reduced 1593, renovated in the Baroque style 1740s)
  • Orsini Palace (Palazzo Orsini; first built in 1470, later modified and renovated)
  • San Biago's, a late-Renaissance church decorated with polychrome marble and 17th-century Neapolitan paintings
  • The local seminary, which preserves the Cippus Abellanus Oscan inscriptions
  • Cicala Castle
  • Giordano Bruno monument

Notable people[edit]


Two fairs are held in Nola: one on 14 June and another on 12 November. The Festival of the Lilies (Festa dei Gigli) is held on 22 June or the Sunday beforehand, honoring St Paulinus. It lasts seven days, til the next Sunday. Eight lilies and a boat are made of wood and covered with papier-mache from the city's art shops. On the last day of the festival, the huge lilies are carried through the town on residents' shoulders along a route that has been followed for more than a thousand years. Each represents one of the local guilds or corporations, coming in the following order:

  • Greengrocers (Ortolano)
  • Butchers of pigs (Salumiere)
  • Innkeepers (Bettoliere)
  • Bakers (Panettiere)
  • Boatmakers (Barca)
  • Butchers of other meats (Beccaio)
  • Shoemakers (Calzolaio)
  • Smiths (Fabbro)
  • Dressmakers (Sarto)

Each of the organizations is responsible for one day of the festivities. The 2010 festival—along with its fellows—was nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Object 463914 Object 463914 Check |url= scheme (help) |contribution-url= missing title (help), British Museum, London: BM .
  2. ^ Mommsen, Corp. Inscr. Lat., Vol. X, p. 142.
  3. ^ Mommsen asserts that roads apparently ran directly to Nola from Neapolis and Pompeii, but Heinrich Kiepert's attached map does not indicate their route.[2]
  4. ^ a b "Bell", Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., Vol. III, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1878, pp. 536–7 .


Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

External links[edit]