San Leucio del Sannio

The green hill

Location

San Leucio Del Sannio, originally Casale de’ Collinari and then San Leucio De Collina, stands on a green hill that rises between the valley of the Sabato river and the valley of the Serretelle torrent. The town owes its name to the church dedicated to San Leucio bishop, built at the top of the town and around which houses gradually arose. They were arranged along the slopes and gave rise to today’s hamlets. The town, known for centuries as “Hill”, was probably a place of settlement in remote antiquity: this would have been only the beginning of its very rich history.

Today the municipality presents itself as a welcoming and hospitable center dedicated above all to agriculture and craftsmanship, where the local gastronomic tradition is still very much alive and rooted.



Not to be missed

The town of San Leucio is immersed in the greenery of an enchanting landscape, characterized by a healthy and mild air which makes the moments on the streets of the town center even better.

The municipality is characterized by its gastronomic tradition, appearing to the visitor in a welcoming and hospitable manner in its simplicity. The territory is gently undulating: the hills surrounding the town are covered with cultivated fields, pastures and small forest formations of Mediterranean scrub. The waterways are lined with rows of poplars, alders and willows. From the highest points you can admire the most breathtaking points of the Caudina Valley, the Benevento basin and the majestic peaks of Mount Taburno and the Avella mountains. Particularly interesting to visit is the Church of San Leucio Vescovo which is the most important and also the oldest religious building in the town. Dating back to the end of the 12th century, it was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1688 and was inaugurated by Cardinal Orsini in the 18th century. The bell tower was then built in 1801 and the atrium in front of the facade in 1828. The current appearance of the church is the one chosen in the eighteenth century, when it was rebuilt following the disastrous earthquake of 1688.

The building was inaugurated by Cardinal Orsini and has two entrances.

The entrance to the church is preceded by a large atrium with round arches.

The façade, simple and essential, is surmounted by a pediment with a small blind rose window. Small pilasters punctuate the spaces of the second order of the facade, in symmetry with the spaces of the arches of the first order. The structure is topped by small statues and an iron cross. The bell tower flanks the church with elegance and grandeur.  Standing out among the buildings is Palazzo Zamparelli, built in the mid-18th century, which hosted illustrious nobles including Domenico Carafa and Gioacchino Pecci, the one who became Pope Leo XIII, Domenico Carafa Della Spina si Traetto and Luigi de Beer, governor of the principality of Benevento in the Napoleonic period.

In the hamlet of Maccabei you can admire the Church of San Giovanni where the epigraph commemorating the inauguration by Cardinal Orsini is located. In the Cavuoti district, however, the Church of Maria SS. Della Misericordia has returned to its splendor after years of total abandonment. About the Church of Maria SS. Della Misericordia: it was erected as a Parish by Cardinal Alessio Ascalesi with the Archbishop’s Bull of 27 March 1921 and opened for worship on 24 June 1924, the date it came into possession of Don Fedele Iannace. The parish church in the Cavuoti hamlet of the municipality is one of the most important elements of the centre. The layout consists of a Latin cross with a single nave with transept and semicircular apse. The structure contains columns, arches and domes. Six columns, arranged parallel to the longitudinal axis of the church, support two small domes with arches and spherical plumes, one of which develops at the intersection of the nave with the transept. While the second rises in the nave of which it occupies only a part, the remaining area being covered by a segmental vault. The perimeter walls continue in height and support the roof, which must have had a flat wooden molding underneath. Two other pairs of columns, located in the corners of the arms of the transept, together with the central ones, support two small domes. Two more columns located along the perimeter wall of the apse support a small dome with a partially elliptical plan. The facade is divided into two floors, with the architraved portal on the first floor and on the upper floor, the large window which constitutes the main source of light. The bell tower stands adjacent to the left arm of the transept. The rectory is located adjacent to the left side of the nave. The sacristy is located on the right side of the nave.The town is often a destination for trips out of town also because it offers tourists many food and wine delicacies typical of the area including the renowned DOC wines such as Sannio, Aglianico del Taburno or Sant’Agata de’Goti.

A bit of history

Originally the town was called: Casal de’ Collinari (12th century), later it began to be called from the church of S.Leucio alla Collina, around which the houses arose and the current hamlets down the slopes. The discovery of archaeological finds of some interest, especially in the area known as Piano Alfieri, close to the ancient Caudium, suggests an ancient settlement in the area of ​​which, however, there is no information. The current urban nucleus includes several isolated hamlets: Amicoli, Cavuoti, Ciardelli, Feleppi, Maccabei, Rizzi, Valle, Zolli and San Leucio. In their place, around the year 1000, there must have been the settlements called “Casali dei Collinari”, mentioned in parchments from the years 1025-1171 in the Montevergine Archive, preserved in the Loreto Abbey in Mercogliano. Again in a deed stipulated in 1085 there is mention of a place called “Collina”. Finally, Tome 392 of the Verginiana Library contains a document from 1298 which talks about a place called the “Casale dei Collinari”. After this date there are no other documented references until 1599.

It is difficult to establish the era of the formation of the toponym, which is certainly to be related to the construction of the Church dedicated to San Leucio. In any case, at least until 1640, the town retained the name of “San Leucio de Collinis” or “de Collina”. There is also little information relating to the history of the place.

Starting from the 17th century, data relating to the events that devastated the entire region can be found in the parish archives, such as the terrible plague of 1656, which decimated the population, and the earthquake of 1688, which razed many towns in Sannio to the ground. San Leucio was born as an autonomous community after the unification of Italy. Until then it had been a farmhouse in Benevento, belonging to the Papal State. The town of Confini recalls in its name, precisely, the position of contiguity with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In 1928, to avoid confusion with the center of Caserta of the same name, the specification “del Sannio” was added to the name by Royal Decree. In 1860 San Leucio acquired its own municipal dignity and, in 1928, by royal decree, obtained the attribution of “del Sannio”. Among the most important monuments, the Church built in the first millennium, “in the place called Collina” was dedicated to S. Nazzaro.

Curiosity

The most important events of San Leucio are the patronal festival and the Tartufo Experience Fest (an event that takes place in October). The event offers a complete panorama of the world of truffles, with tastings, workshops, art and shows. An unmissable event for lovers of gastronomy, culture and entertainment. The Tartufo Experience Fest offers a gastronomic variety that acts as a bridge between tradition and innovation. The typical dishes of San Leucio are: ‘mbuttunate anchovies, Neapolitan cannelloni, Faicchiana cianfotta, Caprese gnocchi, maltagliati with sausage ragù, seasoned olives, old bread, rice balls, mutton, puff pastry with ricotta, escarole soufflé with cod cream, Vesuvian vermicelli and zeppole from Campania.

For the more curious or alternative we could say, there is a singular attraction: it is a mosaic in the shape of a guitar, the largest in the world. It is a work created by Rinaldo and Lorenzo Minelli, a 1 to 5 scale enlargement of a Fender Stratocaster guitar, the undisputed symbol of rock, used for example by Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. The size of the mosaic reaches 5 meters in length and a width of 1.65: it is composed of different types of marble and stands out not only for its dimensions, but also for the extreme attention to detail from the pickups, to the fret markers, to the potentiometers.

Tour of the historic center