Cervinara

Ferrari

Ferrari ('smiths' in local dialect, sometimes mentioned as Ferrati) is a casale located sensibly more uphill than the valley level, near the junction of the old via Campanina with the more modern road leading down to Trescine. The settlement already existed in the 13th century.
In the 16th century Cervinara's feudatories decided to abandon the old castle to build a new, more comfortable residence here. The aim of this action was actually more ambitious as it involved setting up a new centre more downhill. Therefore a big square was arranged just in front of the palace, along the main road, to serve as a market place: it is now called Piazza Regina Elena. It has been the main square of Cervinara roughly until the beginning of the 20th century, when this role switched to Trescine and Pontocampo more downhill.
Via Renazzo Via Renazzo (or just Renazzo) is a modern road leading from via Carlo del Balzo to Ferrari. It features some popular apartments and the main seat of the primary school of Cervinara. San Gennaro torrent in April San Gennaro (named this way because it flows behind the church with the same name) is one of a number of seasonal ditches that carry water from the mountains of Cervinara to the valley. Via Ferrari As it is clear from the name of the street, the name Ferrari originally referred to this short row of houses, some of hich still retail some characters denoting their popular origin.
View of the square The main road (former via Campanina), running between the casali Castello and Scalamoni along the mountain slope, is barely visible on the left of this picture, cutting the square almost diagonally. The bigger part is paved and delimited by trees. The marquises' palace lies on the right, on a lower level than the square, along another road that leads to Pantanari and Valle.
The current name of the square homages Elena of Montenegro (1873-1952), wife of Victor Emmanuel III king of Italy.
The square's fountain The fountain was built in 1797 by initiative of the local feudatory, Antonio Francesco Caracciolo. Its use was of a public fountain to be employed in place of the older one lying in the middle of the courtyard of the marquises' palace.
Behind the fountain is the front of the palace.

Marquises' Palace

Palazzo marchesale

In 1562 the D'Avalos family decided, once and for all, to transfer the feudatories' residence more downhill, as the old castle was crumbling and modern times required them to take an active part in the like of their fief, more than keeping their concerns about defence. The original building, completed in 1581, consisted only of the left half of the current one: it was during the 17th century that the new marquise Francesco Caracciolo (who held the fief 1623-1656) had it enlarged to its current extent. Although the Caracciolo from Sant'Eramo kept marquises of Cervinara until the abolition of feudalism, at some point they sold their palace to their relatives del Balzo, counts of Presenzano, whose descent still own this residence nowadays, and rent it out as a venue for formal events.
The building has two storeys, but the wing built in the 16th century is higher than the older one. The two wings together embrace a lawn, with sort of a tower at the bottom, under which is the access to the gardens and fields annexed to the palace. The best internal environments are all concentrated in the wing on the right side and include, on the ground floor, the horses' stable with finely carved stone troughs; on the upper floor, a couple of finely decorated halls. The so-called Hall of Justice, accessed directly from the staircase, has an artistically engraved wooden ceiling surrounded by painted portraits of the Caracciolo family and scenes from Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered; it was used for meetings of uncertain nature. Noah's Hall has, all around the top portion of the walls, representations of the animals that were hosted by the Bible hero on his Ark. The private chapel of the family, consecrated in 1727 by pope Benedict XIII, is also artistically relevant.
The del Balzo family had a vibrant high-society public life in the palace during the 20th century, but it has been suggested that earlier than this Francesco Caracciolo used to host a Masonic lodge here. Palazzo Marchesale Caracciolo-del Balzo

Advertising website of the palace as a venue. Includes interesting pictures of the interiors.

Mondanità a Palazzo Caracciolo [Cervinaracity]

Account of some documented events held in the palace and, more interestingly, a thesis by Simona De Nicolais arguing about the clues that the palace hosted a lodge.

Il Palazzo Marchesale [Pro Loco Cervinara]

Some general facts about the palace.

Front of the palace The front of the building faces a road that divides it from Piazza Regina Elena; it is 90 metres wide and is neatly divided between the older half (on the left) and the newer one (on the right). The main portal in the middle leads to an entrance hall and then to the interal garden. A door on the right of this hall leads to the horses' stable.
The front is entirely decorated with abstract geometric drawings inscribed into circles. According to the thesis of Simona De Nicolais, they are not mere decorations: they would have been requested by Francesco Caracciolo to carry messages that only members of Masonry would understand. They are divided into four groups: 7 symbols on the left wing, 3 above the main portal, 5 between the windows of the right wing, 11 on the top of the same wing. The roses with 18 petals above the main portal would represent the members of the lodge, whereas the other groups would point out the ways to get to perfection and highest knowledge.
The yard The staircase on the right leads to the upper rooms of the building. The fountain in the middle has been realized by will of Antonio Francesco Caracciolo in 1784, together with an aqueduct carrying water from the casale of Castello. The fountain was meant as private, but locals were regularly using it until the marquise resolved to have a public one built in the main square. G. Formato, Cervinara dall'unità d'Italia ai giorni nostri

Reference about the aqueduct

Masonic symbols on the front These are some of the symbols appearing on the front of the right wing of the building: the top row is part of a 11-symbol sentence, whereas the bottom row is part of a 5-symbol one. (See the description of the picture of the facade, or the link provided under the description of the building, for more global information). The tower is a symbol of power. The 6-petal rose appearing above, instead, is the Seal of Solomon, a symbol of spiritual purity; and the other rose on the right would stand for material purity. But the symbol that 'betrays' the existence of a Masonic message is the plumb rule, depicted between these two roses. Drinking troughs in the stable The stable is an environment of minor importance within the palace; nevertheless, the troughs are the product of a fine manufacturing, that gives a good measure of the wealth and importance of the Caracciolo family.
Caracciolo's coat of arms Back access The rear portal is inserted into a short tower, that possibly served for a panoramic view on the valley.
The name Ferrari nowadays refers to a wider area than originally, as it includes also a housing cluster located more uphill than Piazza Regina Elena, historically called Simeoni. A rise from the square, followed by an elegant stairway, leads to a vantage point where we find the most beautiful church of Cervinara, dedicated to Saint Januarius.

Abbey of San Gennaro

Abbazia di San Gennaro

The church dedicated to Januarius, bishop of Benevento in the 3rd century, may be the oldest of Cervinara: it is mentioned first before the year 1000 but thought to be even older, dating back to the times when Cervinara was a possession of the monastery of San Vincenzo al Volturno. It has been suggested that even the orientation of the naves, west to east, is a precise choice typical of early Christianity. The church has been always locally important in its history: it was run by an archpriest already in 1251, and its chapter house enjoyed several privileges like the one of choosing local parish priests, or excommunicating people.
The hegemony of this church in the 14th century ranged all over Valle Caudina. Its local importance reflected also into later recognitions: in 1714, for instance, pope Clement XI acknowledged plenary indulgence for all pilgrims that would visit the church on St. Januarius' day; in 1782 the church was made into a collegiate, and in 1791 promoted to abbey.
The current edifice of the church has been erected in the 16th century, enlarged in 1627, and further altered later. It features three naves with no transept; the central one is higher than the side ones as a result of works performed in the 1920s by the abbot Mancini, who also commissioned the frescoes that can be seen nowadays.
The left nave of the church features a former private chapel of the Caracciolo family, built in 1704; it hosts a 19th-century statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, object of an intense popular devotion: since 1991, indeed, the church is also officially recognised as diocese's sanctuary of Our Lady of Sorrows.
The statue of St. Januarius topping the main altar is also quite remarkable. Gennaro Formato, Cervinara dall'unità d'Italia ai giorni nostri

Adds up a few interesting details to the work of L. Gangale.

Cervinara - Piccola grande Italia [Youtube]

A video describing mainly the church of San Gennaro, through the words of the parish priest.

Front of the church The façade of the church features 3 stone portals, corresponding to the naves in the interior. The current overall appearance is influenced by the works operated in 1920 to raise the roof of the middle nave. Main portal It dates back to 1681, and features a statue of St. Januarius in the act of bleaasing, inserted within the pediment. Ceiling The ceiling, its fresco and decorations are among the most important works operated in 1920-24.
Interior Note the groin-vaulted ceiling of the side naves, as opposed to the barrel-vaulted chancel. The main nave has a plain ceiling, dating back to the 1920s works. Baptismal font The floor around the baptismal font, which dates from 1627, preserves some old Neapolitan decorated tiles. The stuccoes around it are probably the most involved in the church, and enclose frescoes about three 'exceptional' baptisms: the one of Christ, in the middle; Dionysus the Areopagite, on the right side; the emperor Constantine, on the left side.
The main altar and the choir The statue of St. Januarius was carved in 1718 in Carrara marble, and bought by the archbishop of Benevento Vincenzo Maria Orsini (future pope Benedict XIII) and the archpriest Giovanni Ghirardi. St. Januarius was the first bishop of Benevento, and has been portrayed with the single-crowned tiara of that time.
The choir seats, carved in hickory wood, are also an old work. They have been restored after damages due to the 1980 earthquake.
Tomb of the bishop Giovanni Ghirardi Giovanni Ghirardi was born in Cervinara in 1658; in 1684 he became archpriest of the church of San Gennaro. Pope Benedict XIII in 1726 nominated him bishop of Montemarano (a seat not far from Avellino, now suppressed), but did not leave its archpriest position. He died in 1745, and was buried in the main nave of the church of San Gennaro. Giovanni Ghirardi [Cervinaracity]

For more detailed information.

Altar of St. Philip Neri It is located at the bottom of the right nave. It is a 18th-century work from some De Simone.
Caracciolo's chapel The former private chapel of the feudatories was attached to the left nave of the church in 1704. The statue of Our Lady of Sorrows (Madonna Addolorata) is a Spanish-inspired 17th-century work. It is brought in a procession across the town twice a year. In 1886 a confraternity was born to cultivate the worship of Our Lady of the Sorrows, but it is now disappeared.
On top of the arch giving access to the chapel there are paintings of St. Peter and St. Paul.
The cross, and a pillar by the altar Two finely marble-decorated baroque pillars divide the main nave from the chancel. Altar of St. Rita of Cascia, at the bottom of the left nave
The organ It is located over the main portal, and it is a work of a company from Formia, placed here between 1939 and 1940. It replaces an altar to Our Lady of the Intercession that had been sacred by the archbishop Orsini. A document from 1783 The archbishop Banditi of Benevento issues the College of San Gennaro some peculiar rights, that I have not been able to read. The stairway leading to the church
Via Simeoni Via Simeoni with its alleys and courtyards is another of the oldest cores of Cervinara. Church of San Rocco Similarly as lots of other chapels dedicated to St. Roch of Montpellier, the one of Cervinara has been erected by the survivors of some epidemic as a sign of gratitude for having spared them. Most likely the epidemic was the one of 1656 that exterminated inhabitants of several areas of the Kingdom of Naples: few decades later the chapel was indeed recorded in the archdiocese's archives. The chapel was refurbished after the year 1911: that year Cervinara was not touched by a cholera epidemic that spread across Valle Caudina, and the population thought it was because of their devotion to St. Roch.
The front of the church features a mosaic portrait of St. Roch by the local artist Gigi Giosuè, placed in 1997.
Former Don Giuseppe institute This edifice opposite the chapel of San Rocco has been the historical seat of the Nuns of Good and Perpetual Assistance. They are now based at Curielli.
Copyright 2014 Antonio De Capua