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.