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cisterns in the rocks to store rain water.  

Man was not always a winner and he had 

to struggle with nature and other men 


The buildings we discover on our jour-

ney date back to the XVI-XVII centuries 

but they were built on very old ruins. 

A  er a massive increase in popula  on, 

the villages were enlarged for safety re-

asons, especially around the noble man-

sions and the churches, since there was 

be  er protec  on against the pirate raids 

and the malandrini, that is, the brigands.  

The villages grew in length and the 

houses were close to the for  fi ed 

palaces and crossed by only one 

street from which  steep and narrow 

alleys departed in both direc  ons. 

Each house  had the front door on 

the main street and a back door le-

ading to the orchard behind; the 

la  er was also used as a safe  exit 

if people had to leave the house  in 

case of danger. The fi rst fl oor  win-

dows had a strategic importance 

too: the houses were built according 

to a zig-zag pa   ern so that each win-

dow  had a safe look both on each 

part of the main street and the alley. 

This pa  ern has been in use un  l 

now.  The rural dwellings are equally 

interes  ng. Many of them are used 

to accommodate  tourists. The vil-

lagers used to live there only during 

the day while at  night they did not 

feel safe because of the brigands’ thre-

at, that is, a real danger that ended only 

in the last decades of the XIX century. In 

fact, in the Middle Ages  an isolated man 

had no guaranteed juridical protec  on. 

The massive increase of people in villa-

ges and towns s  ll makes some people 

having two journeys a day  from the vil-

lage to the countryside in order to work 

and come back home, though it is much 

easier today  due to the presence of the 

country roads.

Casal Soprano - An  co pozzo

the ancient structure of the village



The drive up from Agropoli to the sea-

side village of Agnone is lined by Aleppo 

pines of enormous character that lead us 

to the coastal area called Zamarro, that 

is, the southern gateway to the Munici-

pality of San Mauro Cilento.  Here we can 

admire the Mediterranean bush covering 

the green top of those hills that fall into 

the heart of the blue sea. Vegeta  on and 

farmed land help in retarding the surface 

fl ow par  cularly on the gentle slopes dri-

ving us to the many new buildings that al-

most fl ow through the sea shore. At fi rst, 

there is a pebbly beach that is replaced 

by a sandy one, star  ng from a place cal-

led Acqua r’e Canne, thus stretching for 

about three kilometers un  l we reach Ac-

ciaroli, that is, one of the most a  rac  ve 

tourist des  na  ons. The mid XIV century 

Fiumarola Tower is an ideal star  ng point 

to discover this wonderful land, even if it 

is used as a private home now.

In the recently developed area of 

Marina di Mezzatorre, being incredibly 

crowded in the summer  me by  specifi c, 

colorful mass tourism , we are surprised 

at the sight of a series of lovely li  le bays.  

At the present   me it is the result of two 

ancient se  lements called  Mari  ma and 

San Primo,  the la  er being men  oned in 

several documents prior to the year 1000 

Veduta panoramica



whose place name can be found only 

along the county road leading to Accia-

roli, where there are a lot of tourist acco-

moda  ons.

A  er a short drive along the sea and 

a brief look at the Torre del Salurso wal-

ls, we take the road entrance above the 

upstream houses. Crossing this winding 

road of the 1960s, at a height of  460 

meters above sea level we can enjoy the 

wonderful view  of the wide open deep 

blue sea and the small and bustling co-

astline. In 2013, the village succeeded in 

hos  ng one of the Giro d’Italia stages and 

a second Category climb of the “moun-

tain award”.  Now we are proceeding 

along the western side of Mount Tuzzale 

( 437 m. above sea level) on the top of 

which there used to be  a telegraph com-

munica  on facility un  l the 1920s. This 

is one of the richest farming areas.  Near 

Tuzzale  there is Palmenta hill; evidence 

of the presence of several farmers who 

used to produce cereals near the Jandolo 

river and the watermills nearby is given 

by some archaeological fi nds that were 

discovered in the area called Monaco; 

they can be dated back to the  V-IV cen-

tury  B.C and are now kept in the Eleu-

sa Museum. Probably this se  lement 

represented the main food supplier for 

the for  fi ed centre on Mount Stella. The 

landscape is full of stone terraces, steep 

slopes, olive groves and vineyards, many 

of whom belonging to the farm  holidays. 

San Mauro is one of the few farming 

villages of the area. When many people 

were forced to abandon their home lands 

trying to reach 

be  er life condi-

 ons, the ones 

who decided to 

stay in the village 

succeeded in im-

proving the local 

economy. Despi-

te the hard   -

mes, now the vil-

lage is famous for 

its excellent oli-

ve oil, the good 

wine, the dri-

ed  fi gs, and the 

Strada per Mezzatorre - Giro d’Italia 2013



abundance of all kinds of fruit orchards. 

Especially in summer  me,  tourist  could 

taste the local products and special  es 

off ered during the funny fes  vals like the 

“sagra”. Figs are very tasty: fi rst they are 

allowed to dry in the sun for a couple of 

days, then they are stuff ed with almonds 

and bits of lemon skin; fi nally some aro-

mas are added before packing. The extra 

virgin olive oil is now well known also  

abroad.   Here we can taste a mellow and  

aroma  c kind of wine too.  This village 

is widely known for its excellent cuisine 

and the good recipes based on pasta, be-

ans, vegetables and all sorts of cakes; the 

“cannolo cilentano” stuff ed with cocoa 

cream or milk only represents the fea-

ther in the cap of Cilento’s foodfarming 

produc  on. To resume,  the treasure of 

this land lies on the Mediterranean Diet.

The olive groves are the foreground 

scene for the bright and wide view off e-

red by the village: from its south-eastern 

side we can see the port of Acciaroli with 

the the Norman Tower and the church 

nearby while from the north-western one 

we can admire the magic of Punta Licosa 

slowly fading in the fog as the story of its 

myth tells us; here is where Ulysses he-

ard the mermaids’ songs. The view from 

the top of these hills is great; on a clear 

day, we might see the isle of Stromboli 

almost reaching the northern chain of 

mountains in Calabria; on the north-we-

stern side we can see the Amalfi  coast as 

well as Capri and Ischia at its back while 

the  fi rst boroughs of San Mauro are on 

the eastern one. Before reaching the fi rst 

Mezzatorre - Veduta panoramica



urban area whose name is Casal  So  a-

no, we must take a walk to Sala hill; it is 

a narrow strip of land rising to a ridge of 

a hill that is completely covered with oli-

ve trees and surrounded by a number of 

diff erent farm houses. Once we reach the 

top of the hill, we will enjoy a breathta-

king view looking at  the gulfs of Salerno 

and Policastro. 

On a li  le plateau there is a small 

chapel that was restored just a  er  the 

second World War. It is called Madon-

na della Sala Chapel or Fiumicello, that 

is the name of the hamlet that used to 

be here in the XII century. Legends about 

the Virgin Mary say that  this chapel was 

probably  destroyed during the Saracen 

raids;  people say that the monks hid the 

ancient icon under a heap of stones; a  er 

many years a shepherd who was running 

a  er a goat found it and decided to build 

a chapel on that place. All this reminds us 

of real historical 

events: according 

to the memories 

of the local peo-

ple, the Saracens 

who destroyed 


all the sacred 

icons could be re-

lated to the  VIII 

century icono-

clas  c  struggles. 

The heap of sto-

nes represents 

the fi rst period of 

Norman rule that 

Loc. Sala - Panorama

Prodo      pici - Fichi



was characterized 

by a strong per-

secu  on  towards 

the Basilian mon-

ks and their  cults 

. The discovery of 

the sacred icon led 

to the resump  on 

of the religious and 

economic life  that 

started in the XII 

century with the 

Benedic  ne  mon-

ks and resulted in 

the building of the 

church where the-

re is an annual pilgrimage on September 

8; on its façade there is a li  le arch and 

a bell showing the image of  Our Lady.  

The chapel houses the beau  ful simplici-

ty of the polychrome Greek statue of the 

Blessed Mother holding the baby on her 

right arm. On the opposite there is one 

of the oldest hamlets of San Mauro, that 

is, Quarrata hillock and valley. This place 

name was fi rst men  oned  in a document 

of the year 174 according to  which Prin-

ce Arechi gave twelve proper  es to the 

monastery of Saint Sofi a in Benevento, 

that is, the ancient condomas: for the 

fi rst   me here is reported the existence 

of a man whose name was Mauro.

Loc. sala Cappella Madonna della Sala - Par  colare



Once again on the main street, we 

start our tour of San Mauro Cilento. The 

name of this village refers to  two small 

districts named Casale So  ano  and Ca-

sale Soprano, the former at about 460 

meters above sea level and the la  er at 

561 meters above sea level. In Casale So-

prano, people s  ll refers to its boroughs  

claiming their old names, once being dif-

ferent villages:  Serre, Vallongella, Ra  o 

and Sorren  ni. The area between the 

two main districts used to be called Cer-

zagallàra, but now it is just called 

Serroni. Here we can fi nd the ol-

dest historical places of worship: 

the Carmelites  Convent, the cha-

pel of our Lady of Sorrows, the pa-

rish church dedicated to San Mau-

ro the martyr and the Chapel of the 

Holy Ghost .

These areas of the village s  ll 

keep the old look: the alleys are pa-

ved with the typical Cilento sand-

stone, every house has an orchard 

with a well at the back and the si-

des of the modern  buildings  are 

s  ll marked by the signs of the past 

rural civiliza  on; west side there 

is the impressive image of  Mount 

Stella .

A village named San Mauro was 

fi rst reported in a document that 

can be dated back to the year 1092 

and it probably emerged near the 

church. However, people already lived 

in this area  that probably was a Longo-

bard se  lement. There are some infor-

ma  on about another church dedicated 

to San Mar  no since the year 1043, s  ll 

exis  ng in the XVI century when Casal 

Soprano emerged around it. Part of the 

Via Pubblica  is called Vicolo San Mar  -

no reminding us of that old church whi-

le Via Cappella reminds us of an ancient 

worship place dedicated to Saint Anne; 

past it, we fi nd an old service area na-

Via Forge - Partcolare

Casal Sottano


med Paloguercio, that is, the main 

entrance to CasalSo  ano. If we 

take a walk  along this old paved 

street we can admire the old noble 

mansions of the Marrocco and the 

Pascale. We have to remember the 

middle class Cilento mansion be-

cause that was the birth place of 

Ma   eo, known as ‘u pi  ore (1829-

1916), that is, the ar  st  who pain-

ted many churches and mansions 

all over the Cilento area.  Then we 

come to Plazza San Cristoforo, the 

old mee  ng place where people 

used to meet in order to take the 

most important decisions about 

the fate of the Casale; nearby the-

re is Forge quarter, where the mid-

dle class ar  sans used to produce  

roof   les and terraco  a po  ery.

On the other hand, a  er a few 

steps through the Savuco gate 

(Porta del Savuco), we get in the noble 

quarter named Aria dei San  , just in front 

of “U Palazzo” (the Palace). It has the 

typical features of the old rich people’s 

mansions: a wide stone front door lea-

ding to the court inside where a double 

fl ight of stairs leads to the fi rst fl oor. On 

the  ground fl oor one can s  ll see  the re-

maining traces of the ar  sans workshops 

and the stables.  Between the XV and the 

XVIII centuries this place used to be the 

Curia, that is, the residence of the King’s 

right-hand who was engaged for drawing 

up contracts with the local suppliers.

This palace is well known for a nobler 

reason: it was  the residence of the last 

heir to the throne of Constan  nople, 

Ruggero Paleologo Porfi rogenito, who li-

ved here from 1441 un  l he passed away  

just before 1489. He was the son of Tho-

mas, the brother of Emperor Constan  -

ne XI, who had no children.  There are 

several sugges  ve handicra  s and other 

reported materials bringing evidence to 

Via Cappella - Par  colare

Casal Sottano


this important event in San Mauro  hi-

story.   When the city of Constan  nople 

was destroyed in 1453, he was living in 

San Mauro Cilento for diploma  c  rea-

sons; actually he had been held there as 

a ’hostage’  since he was eleven years old 

in order to give pledge for a treaty that 

allowed the King of Naples Alphonse V to 

rule over the lands  belonging to Constan-

 nople.  At that   me many Greek people 

sought refuge  in Capaccio diocese  and 

some of the so-called Mazzarella, Maiu-

ri, Pascale,  Notaro, Ralli, Comneno, and 

Tipaldi families reached Rogerio in San 

Mauro Cilento thus crea  ng here a Gre-

ek establishment around the Church of 

Saint Sofi a that today is dedicated to Our 

Lady of  Sorrows.  Then they built a chur-

ch  dedicated to the Holy Ghost. Rogerio 

was a judge ad contracta and just before 

he died, he had a wooden choir built for 

the parish church. People can s  ll admire 

it today, in spite of the seventeenth cen-

tury restora  on works.  His heirs lived in 

San Mauro Cilento un  l 1571.

Walking through several alleys and 

narrow streets, we get to piazza Notar 

Pe  llo (the old Sant’Antonio Square) thus 

taking the new road to Mezzatorre. A  er 

crossing it we turn again on the old street  

that is now called Via Roma; it is in Capo-

casale, right in the middle of Lo Vicinanzo 

and Sant’Antonio urban  areas, betwe-

en the Holy Ghost (Spirito Santo) chapel 

and another area named Terrachino. The 

Holy Ghost chapel was restored in 1991 

but people say that it was built by some 

Greek refugees who survived the sack of 

Constan  nople. Evidence of this is given 

by the li  le bell found there, bearing on 

one side the image of Saint Mauro ( or 

more likely Saint Basil) who holds a city in 

fl ames on his right hand and on the other 

side the Virgin Mary who is worshipped 

as the Madonna of Constan  nople. The 

original bell tower of this church was bu-

ilt in 1748 and it stands  at the right bot-

tom side of the church; it has got a  squa-

re base and a cylindrical bell cell with 4 

arched one-light windows  closed by the 

li  le par  cular dome claiming for the ba-

sic elements of the poor rural style, like 

the inner seven blind arches.

Chiesa dello Spirito Santo - Facciata

Casal Sottano




Walking through the small group of 

houses along Via Roma, we get to the pa-

rish church standing in the centre of the 

Serroni area with its impressive size and 

the very tall bell tower.  Its fi rst evidence 

can be dated back to the year 1130.  It 

used to be the  social and religious centre 

of the village since people would meet 

here to draw up contracts and fi nd solu-

 ons to the  problems  related to  farming 

land management.  Outside, the church 

shows the typical features of the Roma-

nesque architectural style; on the le   side 

of the façade there is the tall bell tower 

with its marked four orders and protru-

ding frames.  The fi rst fl oor  and  the cen-

tral nave have got the same height  while 

on the façade there is a very small arched 

one-light window; the second and third 

fl oors are refi ned  on all sides by arched, 

balustrade one-light windows ; the top 

fl oor is made up by an octagonal drum 

topped with a dome and lightened by 

small arched openings alterna  ng  with 

bu   resses and surmounted by oculi lined 

with based corners.  The front door opens 

between two pillars on the façade whose 

internal walls have protruding transver-

Chiesa Madre - Interno

Casal Sottano


sal frames. The church has a nave and 

two aisles; the la  er are lower, each one 

of them having six cross vaults calling the 

a  en  on to the noble chapel built on the 

external walls. These have barrel vaults  

and a built-in altar. Behind the entrance 

there is the women’s gallery that houses 

the organ standing on four stone pillars ; 

the inscrip  on at the base of one of them 

reads: “Opus Jseph Franc. E Ant 

y Pe  llo A.D. 1735”. On the 

ceiling there is a large pain-

 ng made by Ma  eo Cilen-

to in 1915  and represen  ng 

the glory of the Patron Saint.

A  fl ight of stairs on the 

le   leads to some rooms 

below called the ‘congre-

ga’, because it used to be 

the mee  ng place of the 

confraternity. It is made up 

of two  Egyp  an cross sha-

ped rooms; the fi rst one is 

lined with the upper part of 

the choir and s  ll has got a 

wide opening two meters 

from the ground that was 

supposed to led to the Ro-

sary nave through a fl ight 

of stairs; at the same height 

on the right there are seve-

ral rough stairs leading to 

the tombs from the church 

fl oor. The other wider room 

has a barrel vault and has 

been recently painted.   At the end of the 

wall there was a noble tomb,  probably 

belonging to Ruggero Paleologo; now 

there is  a sugges  ve Museum dedicated 

to the memory of the 1453 Greek refu-

ges. The way out is a door between two 

square stone pillars surrounded by a lin-

tel with a date: 1747.   Above these pillars 

Chiesa Madre - Veduta

Casal Sottano


there is also a ruined tombstone carrying 

this apocalyp  cal warning: “ (…) Menar 

deve/anchor a Dio/ te duro lascivo iniquo 

e rio/ questa è sede comun senza riparo/ 

Sacellum hoc dicatum est non aliis nisi 

confratribus pii mon  s mortuorum”.  It 

is easy to understand its meaning  if we 

take into account that the dead mem-

bers of the confraternity were taken to 

the church through this door  the night 

before their burial (almost all the people 

in San Mauro were members of the Pious 

Mons Mortuorum confraternity). 

The wooden choir is at the back 

of the main altar; it was almost com-

pletely restored  in 1727-1730 by 

the German “master” Johan Ma   a 

Biber, who added some elements 

from his culture related  to his per-

sonal and poli  cal experiences. It is 

important to men  on the two –he-

aded eagle standing out the large 

reading –rest and the upper panels 

of the  door leading to the church 

vestry.  They say it was donated by 

Ruggero Paleologo, the son of Tho-

mas and the nephew of the last em-

peror of Constan  nople, Constan  ne 

XI. We know very li  le about this 

choir, but in the parish church regi-

sters there are many reports about  

its three-years of restora  on works. 

The church a  endant  collected the 

necessary funds from the clergy, the 

Universi  es, and the common people. 

They bought chestnut, walnut  wood and 

ebony. The restora  on works started in 

1727 under the direc  on of the Prussian 

outlaw master  Ma   a Biber and the help 

of “mastràscia” Giuseppe Pe  llo and his 

sons. Later in 1729 master Camillo de Feo 

gave them his help too. The works ended 

in 1730 with the last restora  on of the 

door leading to the large church vestry. 

Mr Biber had been living in San Mauro 

un  l the restora  on works were comple-

ted and the church provided in supplying 

Chiesa Madre - Par  colare

Casal Sottano


him with food and lodging only for the 

 me needed. A   er that we have no other 

informa  on about him. Of course there 

were other countrymen living with him, 

as the bishop had set up an”0spitale per I 

signori tedeschi”. This wood work s  ll ke-

eps in good shape, thanks to  the 2010 re-

stora  on works established by the “Eleu-

sa” Associa  on. Twelve stalls are placed 

along the three presbytery walls in order 

to cover them all.  The door on the right 

side leads us to the Rosary nave.   There 

are four  raised  stalls on every wall;  those 

that are closer to the wall are separated 

by the ar  s  c door leading to the church 

presbytery.  On the upper panels of this 

door there is the sculpted low –relief  of 

the two-headed eagle with a crown on 

its head; it is the same for the small rea-

ding-desk  and the stalls where there are 

once again the liturgical ornaments: the 

lion, the pelican, the winged dragon, the 

tragedy masks, the acanthus leaves, each 

one expressing its local colors and shapes 

in a Baroque taste.



The display room of the” Museum, 

Archive and Library of the social and reli-

gious History of Ancient Cilento” is loca-

ted mainly inside a XV century building 

that was home to ”Pio Monte dei Mor  ” 


In the historical and diploma  c Archi-

ve we can look at this cultural treasure, 

that is, the manuscripts from the XVI to 

the XX century: 40 volumes and count-

less documents and papers , 50 parch-

ments  from the XV to the XVIII century 

(actually in custody of  the archive of Val-

lo della Lucania diocese) and a number 

of prints da  ng from the XVII to XIX cen-

tury. Due to the nonexistence of any pu-

blic resources, the registers with records 

of bap  sms, weddings, and deaths are 

necessary to relive events of the people 

between the XVII and XIX centuries; ac-

cording to the statements of the Trento 

Council, the priests have been taking care 

of them from the end of the XVI century 

un  l now. Keeping the “relics” in safety, 

Museo - Par  colare

Casal Sottano


the half-length XVI century statues  of 

Saint Mark the martyr and Saint Mauro 

the Abbot mark the development and 

the evolu  on of this kind of religious hi-

story. There are several Chris  an vo  ve 

dona  ons like the 17th century wooden 

statues of SaintLucia,  Saint vincenzo, 

Saint Donato the bishop, Saint Luigi Gon-

zaga, Saint Caterina of Siena, Saint Brigid 

of Sweden. There are also fi ve polychro-

me  li  le statues of par  cular relevance 

portraying Baby Jesus  and John the Bap-

 st; they are made of wood, papier ma-

chè, wax, chalk and ceramic and can be 

dated back to the XVIII-XIX centuries.

In the art gallery there are some 

XVIII century canvases depic  ng 

Saint Joseph and the poor souls in 

Purgatory, Saint Rocco and the vil-

lage of Pollica in the background, 

the face of Jesus Christ, Saint Carlo 

Borromeo, the Virgin Mary brea-

s  eeding the infant Jesus painted 

by Giovanni Russo from Cannicchio, 

Our Lady of  Graces, formerly held 

in the chapel belonging to Curzio 

family, the Immaculate Concep  on 

(a work by some Franciscan monk). 

The history of Santa Maria delle 

Grazie confraternity is told in a se-

ries of noteworthy documents and 

fi nds.  In the Museum there are also 

several liturgical furniture and vest-

ment, the so-called ‘cènta’, that is, a 

boat-shaped old vo  ve dona  on de-

corated with candles and fl owers, terra-

co  a roof   les, enameled and polychro-

me fl oor   les , sacred stones, tomb- head 

stones and masks rela  ng to the old San 

Mauro carnival.

Finally, there are also several intere-

s  ng ceramic materials da  ng back to 

the Lucanian   mes (V-IV century  B.C.) 

as well as the later Roman and medieval 

one, and an ancient ceramic gorgoneion  

of the V century B.C.  The library keeps 

400 printed volumes  ranging from the 

end of the XV century to the XIX century.

Museo - Par  colare

Casal Sottano


 The main street leads us to Casal 

Soprano.   Along this road we can see a 

column named Monte Oliveto where a 

trilobated cross stands on a three step 

quadrangular trilobite and a date is en-

graved in its basement: 1613.  Once, the 

street stretched towards  the Jandolo ri-

ver, where there used to be some water 

mills whose ruins can s  ll be seen; now 

they belong to Pollica municipality.

Past the local stone wall of the resto-

red graveyard, we face a great memorial 

stone built to commemorate all the war 

heroes and a 1716 chapel dedicated to 

Our Lady of Sorrows nearby. Rumor has 

it that during the 1764 famine and dry 

spell, the local people made a procession 

crying out to the sacred icon and begging 

for her help. On Easter Monday the mi-

racle was  made and there was plenty of 

rain. From then on the procession beca-

me an annual event  and during the fol-

lowing week the statue is placed in the 

parish church  among tens of vo  ve can-

dles for people coming to worship from 

the nearby villages. On Saturday there is 

a fair while Sunday  is the day of the great 

fes  val. Before  the procession takes pla-

ce, several ci  zens off er some money  in 

order to win honour of carrying the sta-

tue: this habit is known as “arriff o”.

The chapel was restored at the begin-

ning of 1700 when it became the seat of 

the Seven Sorrows  Congrega  on,  that 

Casal Soprano - Veduta

Casal Soprano


is, a Confraternity that dedicated itself 

to the cul  c worship of Our Lady of Sor-

rows. However, it has got a very ancient 

origin; in fact in the VIII century  Prince 

Arechi gave some lands in the area cal-

led Quarrata to the church  of Saint So-

fi a in Benevento stressing the fact that 

there used to be a previous se  lement 

that later became known as San Mauro 

Cilento; the fi rst Greek refugees came to 

the church of Saint Sofi a a  er Constan-

 nople was destroyed in 1453. Evidence 

of their arrival are some engravings who-

se marble copies are kept in the Eleusa 

Museum. These refugees restored  it and 

used it even a   er they built a new church 

dedicated to the Holy Ghost.

The fresh water well that is s  ll kept 

on the le   side of the presbytery, close 

to the inner wall, is a unique witness of 

the venerable history of the font of the 

ancient church where the Greek rite had 

long been celebrated by the masses. Now  

the street leads us in front of the Carmeli-

te chapel  where there was the Carmelite 

convent un  l 1652.  A small engraving on 

the façade informs us that it was rebuilt 

in 1732 and restored in 1871.  This small 

convent comprises the church and some 

more adjoining rooms that were restored 

some years ago.  The church with its sug-

ges  ve barrel vault has got only one nave  

Casal Soprano

Chiesa e Madonna dell’Addolorata


with an apse: its furniture and statues 

have recently been restored and now 

they are kept in the Eleusa Museum. On 

the vault there is a beau  ful pain  ng of 

Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

We have something more to say about 

it since under the apse, there is a cave ne-

stled in the rock looking towards the East.  

People say that in the past centuries the-

re used to be  a  basilian cenoby that later 

became a Benedic  ne monastery, before 

the Carmelite convent was built.  Rela  ng 

to the basilian or Italo-Greek monks, we 

have to men  on the laure, that is, caves 

or shelters where they would live and 

that were always facing the East in order 

to enjoy the warm sunrays and, above 

all, to remember their original home-

land. What about of the cave belonging 

to such a cultural tradi  on? We must 

take into account this sugges  ve  idea, 

a  er all. On the oppo-

site side there is 

a short asphalted 

road that leads 

to a kind of rural 

hamlet named Val-

longella.  Its roads 

and square have 

all been restored 


with the crossing 

alleys focusing on 

the countryside: 

one of them leads 

to the Camarano 

stream where there are s  ll the ruins of 

several water mills. From here it is possi-

ble to venture along the many alleys of 

another rural borough named Ra  o.  In 

the lower part of the village a nice arch 

gets our a  en  on; it is built with some  

empty  terraco  a short tubes called cia-

ramituli; they had been produced in two 

local furnaces un  l the beginning of the 

last century.   

Back to the main street, we go to Piaz-

za San  Nicola in Casal Soprano; it takes 

its name from an  ancient place of wor-

ship that was restored in the 1990s.

It is possible to reach the same place 

just crossing the old Via Pubblica that is 

s  ll partly paved and fl anked by a divi-

ding wall. It leads us behind Saint Nicola’s 

church and then to the li  le square befo-

re it that is overshadowed by Mazzarella 

Casal Soprano - Veduta

Casal Soprano


palace, also called the Court. Here our at-

ten  on is caught by the diff erent structu-

res of the houses which are closer to one 

another. Going on along the road that 

crosses the old piazza Serra (now called 

piazza Autari Mazzarella), we get to the 

oldest area of the village named Sorren  -

ni.  It was fi rst men   oned in 1187; in 1276 

it became part of the Cilento Barony whi-

le in 1376 it turned into a hamlet of San 

Mauro. At its centre there is the chapel 

of Our Lady Immaculate belonging to the 

Maiuri family; it was fi rst  men  oned in 

the XVI century, when it was  already a 

place of worship of the Virgin Mary.  Fur-

ther on we get to a place called Chiaro-

mana; here we could take a walk on the 

main street or through the wood that le-

ads us to the pic-nic area above as well 

as the spring of Saints, where we can get 

both natural mineral or fresh water. Here 

the rests of a very old se  lement have 

been unearthed. Not very far from here 

there are some water mills in the so-cal-

led Pantana area. They are very cheap 

structures that used the local resources 

in a very smart way; in fact, they took 

advantage of a natural height diff erence 

that allowed the water fl ow directly into 

the wheels; both the duct and the mill 

were built using the sandstone  that was 

found in the “Chiaromana” river bed (The 

Camarano). In the building of the mill 

many diff erent elements were taken into 

considera  on, all equally important: the 

water,  the needed quan  ty and speed of 

water conveyance from the river to  the 

wheel, the horizontal or ver  cal  water 

wheel, the very grinding apparatus, the 

necessary tools for si  ing the products 

of the ground, and all the suppor  ng and 

linking elements.

In the southern area of the village the-

re used to be Staviani borough, now di-

sappeared; it was beyond the Camarano 

stream, being men  oned as “Staviani ri-

ver”, and it developed around the chapel 

of Saint John, whose ruins could s  ll be 

seen during the last century , according 

to what  Mr. Ven  miglia says.

Casal Soprano - Veduta

Casal Soprano



The last stage of our journey is Mount 

Stella. We can reach the top of the moun-

tain  (1131 meters above sea level) taking 

the ancient mule-track in Casal Soprano 

and crossing all the old  defensive works 

of the baronial Palace, but there is also 

another road from Omignano.  Since the 

XVII century  the history of this mountain 

has caught the a  en  on of many resear-

chers. They discussed  about the fi rst top 

mountain village and its func  on. Today, 

everyone agrees on the fact that the pro-

per name of ‘Mount Stella has been po-

pular since the XV century when they bu-

ilt the shrine dedicated to the ‘Madonna 

della Stella’. Its ancient name was Monte 

Cilento, probably a word of paleo-medi-

terranean or pre-indo-european  origin. 

The people living along the coast from 

Velia to Paestum were forced to take 

shelter on the mountains where they 

built a for  fi ed village in order to avoid 

the con  nuous  barbarian invasions of 

the V and VI centuries. The great blocks 

of sandstone called li morge protected 

the southwestern and northeastern si-

des of the mountain.  From the VII to the 

VIII century  the Longobards se  led here 

and the area became their military and 

administra  ve centre, also known as Ga-

staldato. At that   me it was called Luca-

nia; due to the historical processes and 

changes that occurred in the X century, 

the whole area took the name of Cilento.  

The last living shepherds are  the ones 

who usually visit this quiet place where 

you can hear only the sound of the ca  le 

bells. The shepherds have also re-named 

the local natural elements like the rocks, 

the water springs or the landmarks of 

“Piano della Rocca”, “Piano delle Cor  ”, 

“Le Chiuse” etc. The hermits were the 

fi rst medieval inhabitants who named se-

veral places like Sorgente dei San   ( the 

Saints’ spring), Acqua dei Monaci ( the 

Monks’ water ) etc.  Their worship centre 

was the chapel of Saint Marco.  Repor-

ts say that this chapel was dedicated to 

the Virgin Mary in the XI century.  No one 

knows why;  anyway, it became one of 

the most important local hermitages.  In 

the XV century it turned into a pilgrimage 

site and people now living on the slopes 

of the mountain believe that it represen-

ts the natural centre of Cilento and their 

home. According to the old pilgrimage 

rituals, on August 15th all the believers 

would reach the top of the mountain 

early in the morning bringing the ‘cènte’ 

with them, that is, a peculiar ancestral 

vo  ve off ering while the sweets, pastry  

and sorbe  o (crushed ice drink) sellers 

were already there, wai  ng for them. 

The pilgrims would go round the church 

three   mes singing the tradi  onal  reli-

gious songs,  then they went in to ask for 

some prayers.   Later in the morning, a  er 

Il Monte Stella


celebra  ng the Mass, the pilgrims joined 

to the procession that reached the four 

corners of the plateau. The De Feo family 

was in charge of chapel ceremonies un  l 

the end of the last century; they usually 

off ered the so-called “  mbani”, that is, a 

sort of baked cake stuff ed with pasta, sa-

lami and fresh cheese. The women who 

could not have children tried to reach the 

southern end of “Morge” where there is 

a massive monolith called “Pretra Nzi-

tata” or be  er “Stone of the pregnant 

woman”;  it is about 12 meters high and 

on the top of it there is a hole where the 

women had to throw pebbles hoping 

that they would stop there in order to 

be sure that they would be pregnant as 

soon as possible; this ancient ritual had 

its roots in the Prehistoric era like several 

other ones. Before reaching the shrine, 

the women who wanted to be pregnant 

tried to cross two monoliths called “Pre-

te ru Mulacchio” meaning “the stones of 

the illegi  mate child”.  The chapel that is 

dedicated to the “Madonna della Stella” 

stands on the top of the mountain. Ac-

 Monte Stella - Veduta

Il Monte Stella


cording to the reports, in the early Midd-

le Ages here there was a niche dedicated 

to San Marco while in 1187 there used to 

be a chapel  called Santa Maria of Cilen-

to that was probably abandoned  at the 

Cilento fortress downfall thus surviving 

as hermitage. It was only in 1444 when 

a priest called Angelo Sombato opened it 

again and asked the bishop of Capaccio 

to live there as a hermit with the right 

to appeal for alms. In 1447 he was soon 

well-known in the area even because 

Cardinal Prospero Colonna off ered  ple-

nary indulgences to those people who 

made certain pilgrimages.   Among the 

off ers they received at the end of the XV 

century the Carmelite monks founded a 

convent in Mercato Cilento and probably 

took care  of the top of Mount Stella; 

they turned the nivere on again and took 

control of the chapel that since then took 

the a  en  on  of lots of pilgrims.

In the XVIII century a friar and a lay re-

ader living there used to take care of the 

church and welcome pilgrims; suddenly, 

in 1809 it was closed and the Church real 

estate became a property of the State.   

This chapel represents a good example of 

vernacular architecture, as it went throu-

gh many restora  on works  that did not 

change the XV century original design.  

The external walls are built with bare sto-

Monte Stella - Panorama

Il Monte Stella


ne blocks. The trapezoidal façade is sur-

rounded by a gable.  The side walls  look 

like bu  resses and go down for about 

two meters, thus conveying the whole 

building a very strong  stability. The wide 

entrance made of large, hard sandstone 

blocks is built on an arch support with a 

rectangular skylight above. On the edge 

of the church there is an inscrip  on re-

ading: “ Et Verbum caro factum est”.  On 

the eastern side, there are three small ro-

oms used by the hermits who took care 

of the chapel and welcomed the pilgrims.  

There is a rear entrance, each one having 

a barrel vault thus receiving the light 

from  an arched one-light window whe-

re there are several grids holes. The insi-

de of it has one nave with a barrel vault:  

on the side walls there are three arched 

blind windows.  The presbytery is raised  

on a  square 

base with two 

side doors le-

ading to the 

vestry that is 

located in the 

octagonal apse 

and visible in 

the rear part. 

During the la-

test restora  on 

works, they 

found a tomb 

facing the pre-

sbytery, probably being the grave of the 

founder, Angelo Sombato.

Everyone in the Cilento area is bound 

to the shrine and the religious tradi  ons 

of Mount Stella. Every year, the fi rst Sun-

day a  er August 15 there is a li  le pilgri-

mage on the top of the mountain aimed 

at evoking the memories of the past. If 

we wish to go on wonderful excursions in 

this natural environment we could take a 

walk through the chestnut woods  befo-

re reaching the top of the mountain. We 

can see  the military base on the East and 

the for  fi ed outpost named Castelluccio 

on the North. Even if there is not much 

water, there are many mountain springs 

at the height of  900 meters. Looking out-

side the chapel, we can enjoy a breathta-

king view of the villages on the mountain 

slopes; San Mauro Cilento is one of them. 


Il Monte Stella


indirizzi utili

Come arrivare

In auto da Salerno: Autostrada A3

Salerno - Reggio Calabria, uscita 

Ba   paglia; proseguire sulla SS18 

in direzione Nord. A Sant’Antuono di 

Torchiara proseguire sulla SP46 e 

quindi SP46/b; infi ne SP15b direzione 

San Mauro Cilento.

Indirizzi u  li - Useful addresses

Comune - The municipality 

Via Serra,1

84070 San Mauro Cilento SA

tel. 0974 903161 fax 0974 903303

Farmacia - Pharmacy

Via Serra, 15 tel. 0974/903149

Farmacia stagionale

Ex SS 267 - Mezzatorre, 78 tel. 0974 904115

Guardia Medica - Emergency medical 


Via Serra 0974 903464


Agriturismi - farmhouses


Casal So  ano - Via A. Vassallo 

info 0974903290


Casal So  ano - Contrada Terrachino

info 3470114649

Facebook: Agriturismo “Terra Nostra” 

Hotel - Alberghi - Hotels


M. di Mezzatorre 

info 0974904146 - 0974 904143


Casal So  ano - Via A. Vassallo

info 0974904034


Casal So  ano - Via Sala 

info 0974903408 - 334 3607397


M. di Mezzatorre - Via Nazionale

info 0974 904008 - Fax  904745



Marina di Mezzatorre

info 333 6426907 - 0974 904759

Bed & Breakfast


Casal So  ano - Via Campo Spor  vo, 7

info 0974903254


Marina di Mezzatorre 

Via Torre dei Mazzarella, 59

info 0974904169 - 3331729175 

3331838496 -


Casal Soprano 

Piazza Autari Mazzarella, 19

info 0974903032 - 3396113150

info@ilcor - www.ilcor  leb& 


Casal Soprano - Via S. Sebas  ano

info 3385805736 -


Casal So  ano - Via Cappella, 24

info 0974903109 – 3491931553


Casal So  ano - Via Strada Nuova, 9

info 0974/903257 - 3382544176

dove dormire


dove dormire


Casal So  ano - Via Terrachino

info 3297256353


Casal So  ano - Via Cappella, 29

info 3494698873


Casal So  ano - Vicolo Piazza, 1

info 0974903046


Casal Soprano - Via Salita Serra, 15

info 3337606015


Casal Soprano - Via Orlando, 33

Info: 3334034294

Country House


Casal So  ano  - Via Sala - Loc. Lavandaio

info 3281717861

Facebook: Country House ‘U Casino


Casal So  ano - Via A. Vassallo 

info 0974904222


Casal So  ano - Con.da Sala

info 3495661300 


Casal So  ano - Via Roma, 32 loc. Guerra 

info 3348373763

Casa Vacanze - Holiday home


Casal So  ano - Vicolo Roma, 22

info 3204672753


Casal Soprano - Via Cappella, 36

info 3384690370


Casal Soprano - Via Valloncella, 29

info 3205314457


Casal So  ano  - Via Strada Nuova 

info 345942992 - 33484562502 



Casal So  ano - Via dei Greci, 5

info 3466389310 - www.villabernade


Casal So  ano - Contrada Guarino, 1

info 0974964393


Casal So  ano - Via Piazza, 10

info 3388584466


dove mangiare


Casal So  ano - Via Sala 

 info 3490916904


    acamere - Landlord


Casal So  ano - Via Cappella, 63

info 3487469245 -


Casal So  ano - Via Strada Nuova

 info 3467998686 -

Stabilimen   balneari 

bathing establishments

Marina di Mezzatorre 

CONGHIGLIA D’ORO info 0974904034 


LA ROSA DEI VENTI info 328871766



info 0974904008 -

Ristoran   - restaurants


Casal So  ano - Loc. Ortale 

info 0974903243 -

Facebook: Coop. Agricola Nuovo Cilento - 

“Al Frantoio”


Casal So  ano - Via A. Vassallo

Info 0974904034


Casal Soprano - Loc. San Sebas  ano

info 09741871104

Facebook: Ristorante Alfea

Bar - Ros  ccerie - Pizzerie

Bar - Takeaways - Pizzerias


Casal So  ano - Via Provinciale 

info 0974903055 - facebook: Bar Mee  ng


Casal So  ano -Via Cappella

info 3936735271 - facebook: Euro Bar


Casal Soprano - Piazza Serra

info 0974271639


Marina di Mezzatorre - info 3293853534


Casal Soprano - Piazza Serra

info 3663320692




Marina di Mezzatorre - Via Nazionale

info 0974904169 - 3337606015


Marina di Mezzatorre - Via Nazionale

info 0974904335 - 3471997945


Comune di San Mauro Cilento

Provincia di Salerno

Abitan   929

Superfi cie 15.28

Frazioni: Casal So  ano, Vallongella, 

Ra  o e Mezzatorre

Il Comune fa parte delle Ci  à 

dell’Olio e Ci  à del Bio 

Municipality of San Mauro Cilento

Province of Salerno

929 inhabitants

surface 15:28

Frac  ons : Casal So  ano, Vallongella,  

Ra  o and Mezzatorre

The City is part of the City of Oil City 

and Bio

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