Molinara

In the medieval fortified center


Location

The ancient village of Molinara is located in Alto Sannio about 30 km from the provincial capital, Benevento. It borders Foiano Val Fortore in the north; in the east and west the two streams, both named Tammarecchia, mark the border with San Giorgio la Molara and San Marco dei Cavoti. The fortified nucleus of Molinara is located on the top of a tuffaceous hill bordered by a pentagonal-shaped wall: at each vertex of the polygon there is a circular tower and it is surrounded by a perimeter road that connects to the urban center developed outside the walls. The built-up area, badly damaged by the 1962 earthquake, is built of limestone for the most part and has a “fan-shaped” plan. The main road crosses the village connecting the two access gates. The built-up area is located at an altitude of about 600 m. In the lower part of the area there are olive groves planted several centuries ago and vineyards.

Not to be missed

The historic center, Rione Terra, allows you to enter medieval Molinara in Alto Sannio, which stands on a tuff hill, nestled among olive groves and vineyards. Here you can find the ruins of the church of San Bartolomeo, consisting of little more than a single wall and bell tower, part of the city walls, on whose walls traces of sacred paintings are still visible, and,on the right, the gateway to the Lord’s palace, the keep, which later became a noble palace. From the eastern side of the main street start a number of narrow radial alleys, which follow with their steps the slope of the hill. Of the buildings that overlooked these alleys, with their external stone stairways and their portals in succession, you can see mostly ruins from which the layout of the ancient village is still legible. Inside the village you can then find the Church of Santa Maria dei Greci, which probably recalls its foundation to that of the fortified village of Molinara itself, and occurred perhaps by a community of monks of Byzantine culture. Outside the village and precisely in the picturesque Piazza San Rocco we find the ancient Palazzo Ionni , returned to its former glory after careful restoration work and used several times for parties, conventions, events and weddings.

A bit of history

The area of Molinara falls in a territory inhabited in antiquity by the Samnites, later conquered by the Romans, but it is thought even earlier by the Greeks, and indeed, there is no shortage of finds in the area of small objects and remains of tombs, although they are not sufficient to ensure the existence of a settlement already in antiquity. It is believed that the founding of the town is linked to the arrival of a community of Byzantine monks, who founded the church of St. Mary of the Greeks here and thus attracted the neighboring populations who embedded themselves in search of protection from raids. A first hypothesis has the place name of Molinara derived from the presence on its territory of numerous water mills; a second believes that the name derives from the prevalent activity in the past of skilled stonemasons who supplied all the neighboring towns with millstones. Last is the hypothesis that the name of the village derives from moria elaia, the sacred olive tree given by the goddess Athena to the Greeks, referring to the extensive olive groves around the village. Molinara is later mentioned in a June 1118 document from which the castle appears as a possession of Raimondo di Loritello; after him the village passed through various owners over the centuries. The town was disrupted by the 1962 earthquake and later by the 1980 earthquake. The fortified historic center was, therefore, abandoned, only to be recovered in recent years, trying to maintain the original medieval layout.

Curiosity

Via Micaelica (or Via dell’Angelo) was a route connecting Rome with Monte Sant’Angelo, where the shrine of St. Michael the Archangel, a pilgrimage destination since the Middle Ages, is located. The shrine is one of three major European places of worship named after St. Michael.

The village of Molinara was located along the Via Micaelica: there were accommodations for pilgrims near the church of Santa Maria dei Greci. The Via Micae┬Člica also “converged” with the Via Francigena, a bundle of routes that led from Western Europe to Rome, continuing on to Apulia, where pilgrims and wayfarers could embark for the Holy Land. Given the rediscovery of these routes, although the original Molinara route is no longer there, two bicycle routes are suggested, via the ordinary road system, that connect the municipality with two important cities located along the Via Micaelica and the Via Francigena: Benevento and Troia (FG).

Tour del centro storico