Abbey of San Fortunato
Abbazia di San Fortunato
The abbey lies at the bottom of a ravine between Mount Castello and Mount Paraturo. Several historical sources ascribe the abbey to the hamlet of Paolisi, which depended from the town of Arpaia. But when Paolisi became autonomous, its territory did not include the abbey (which now has been almost reached by the modern expansions of Arpaia).
Saint Fortunato, at the time of the wars between Radelchis and Siconulf who eventually divided the Principality of Benevento into two parts, was the patron saint of the city of Salerno: it is therefore possible that this Abbey was built just after the annexation of Arpaia to the newborn Principality, during the 9th or 10th century. Yet it is mentioned for the first time only in 1278, and at that time it must have been rather important.
Later on, in 1472, it was just a priory
, namely it was much smaller and depending from some other monastery. This happened probably because of the damages caused by the 1456 earthquake. But the decay (probably due to further earthquakes) did not stop. In 1686 the Abbey, which probably had already lost its community of monks, had reduced to the elements that remained until nowadays: a small church, a bell tower, and a garden with a well in the middle (but the walls surrounding the garden disappeared later). Latest damages to the structure occurred during the 20th century: in 1954 the bell was stolen, two years later the roof of the bell tower fell down, and some arches of the top window did as well with the 1980 earthquake.
Similarly as the town walls and the castle of Arpaia, the walls of the abbey are built in lime stones; most of the arches and vaults of the structure are in tuff stone. Originally, the Abbey was fortified by a perimeter wall. Remains of older structures show that the original church of the complex was considerably bigger than the current one; moreover, the vaulted arcades in front of it were part of the walk around a cloister, corresponding to the current square in front of the church. The only entrance to the complex must have been the portal at the bases of the bell tower, which is delimited by a pointed arch built in tuff stone and gives access to a vaulted environment.
L'Abbazia di San Fortunato nella sua storia millenaria [Pro Loco Arpaia]
History and description of the Abbey. An old text is followed by a newer, technical discussion about the current and the original appearance of the Abbey.
Restauro della torre di San Fortunato
Another description and attempt of reconstruction of the sanctuary, and a detailed explanation of the later restoration works it underwent.