Cervinara

Ioffredo & Pantanari

Ioffredo, lies along the main road leading uphill from the centre of Cervinara, beyond Ferrari. Just above the settlement, the slopes of Mount Cornito start getting steep and wooded. Ioffredo was born as a casale, but it may currently be considered as an expansion of Castello, the fortified core of the town. Its name reveals its ancient origins: it is likely that it derived from some Gottfred, maybe a Norman feudatory of the area.
The ideal centre of Ioffredo used to be the church of San Nicola. While the latter is still there, the housing all around has been lost with a landslide. Ioffredo is indeed traversed by the stream Castello, which drains waters from the hollow between mounts Cornito and Pizzone. During the night of 16 December 1999, after several days of rain, a huge amount of mud slipped from these mountains along the course of the ditch, and seriously damaged the area. Although population had been evacuated in time, there were 5 fatalities, plus 1 in San Martino. Between 2010 and 2011, after years of abandonment and further collapses, remains of the damaged edifices have been cleared. Several sources pointed out different kinds of human responsibility behind that tragedy: in particular that the stream bed had been overly narrowed with walls in concrete, and that no prevention action had been taken.
The church is now isolated, and Ioffredo is roughly half of its original size. Un fiume di fango travolge Cervinara [L'Unità]

Details of the landslip are given in this newspaper article.

Cervinara nel Novecento, I.I.S. Einaudi

Here some more geographical and technical details are given.

Mount Pizzone seen from the Ioffredo square After the demolition of the built-up area all around the church, it faces directly the first trees of the mountain woods.
More uphill, on the right side, are the ruins of the castle of Cervinara.
Ioffredo square On the right of the church is the ditch of the stream Castello, beyond which an entire row of houses has been torn down. Mount Taburno appears behind the church.

Church of San Nicola

Chiesa di San Nicola

The church of San Nicola disputes the title of most ancient church of Cervinara with the one of San Gennaro. It is mentioned in the year 1000 as a possession of the cathedral's library in Benevento, in a document whereby a deacon called Roffredo was granting to a man called Enrico the custody and the usage of the church, together with a curtis (sort of an early medieval self-sufficient farm) annexed to it. The latter was possibly the first core of the current Ioffredo, and was still remembered in the 18th century, as the church is said to lie opposite the "Court's Mill".
In 1309 San Nicola was surely a parish church, held by a rector. In the late 17th century it was described as including two chapels, dedicated to the Holy Conception and St. Joseph. In any case, they do not look to exist any more.
Currently the church is divided into 3 naves, but only the main one hosts an altar: the other two are empty, except for few statues. This is possibly because, after the flood, artworks of the church were moved to San Rocco at Ferrari. Some relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina are kept in the church, as an inheritance left by father Narcisio Marro, 'spiritual son' of the saint.
The church seen from the nearby alleys The exterior of the church markedly reflects its internal subdivision intro 3 naves. Only the left one has a secondary portal on the front. As is it visible in the picture of the square, further on the left is the access to the sacristy. On the side of the left nave there is a stone portal that has then been closed, but it's probably the finest of the portals of the church.
The square in front of the church, with a statue of St. Pio of Pietrelcina that reminds of the relics of him kept inside, has been completed in around 2012.
Interior
Main altar Rear view
Few remains of the houses destroyed by the flood The stream Castello in the spring
Porch giving access to an alley Popular housing in an alley The houses next to the church The two portals give access to further housing, and to the countryside.
A Roman column This segment of column has been set up along the main street of Ioffredo, and it is traditionally believed that it belongs from the 'altar to Ceres' that gives the name to Cervinara. This might not be true, but remains of villas have been found around Valle and Castello. The more elevated part of Ioffredo The road leading from Ioffredo to Castello was, originally, a straight one, the one on the right in this picture. Subsequent development and alteration of the area led to prefer a more curved road that deals better with the difference in elevation between the two centres. The old road was eventually blocked by alterations of the housing.
Some details of the housing arrangement along this obstructed street still reveal that it was the middle road of the oldest casale of Ioffredo. Edifices have been altered with time, but the ones on the left of this picture, and some more further ahead, should still be pretty ancient.
Remains of a votive niche
Following the flow of the stream Castello we reach two minor casali. San Paolino takes its name from a lost chapel, which used to lie under the jurisdiction of San Nicola at Ioffredo. Pantanari, located along the old road connecting Cervinara's centre with San Martino, is mentioned since 1370 and takes its origin from a convent depending from the sanctuary of Montevergine.
Mount Pizzone seen from north of Ioffredo Mount Pizzone is the one on the left, isolated from the other peaks of Partenio. Its nothern slope is woody whereas the southern one is rocky and barren. At the border between these two sides is the hermitage of San Biagio, only partly visible in the greenery.
The remains of the castle of Cervinara are located on a smaller elevation between this and Mount Cornito. Behind the castle is Mount Teano, in the territory of San Martino Valle Caudina.
An old water duct The ruins of this channel run parallel to the ditch that carries the stream Castello. Their use is unknown to me, but I would suppose that it is connected to the Mulino di Mezzo (Central Mill) whence the road takes its name.
The area behind this wall is currently abandoned, but it used to host temporary prefabs for evacuees of the 1980 earthquake.
A deleted coat of arms
An old house at San Paolino Rustic portal at Pantanari A coat of arms on a portal It is the only involved portal in the parea of Pantanari. It carries the date 1809. Ruins of a country house This house is not really located in Pantanari, but on the same road, closer to the town centre, aside the cemetery.

Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie

Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie

This chapel is the only remain of a convent established here as a priory depending from the Sanctuary of Montevergine. The first prior, Nicola da Lauro, is mentioned in 1334. The chapel was donated to the convent by the archbishop of San Gennaro in 1399, together with a couple of houses for the monks. The edifice was rebuilt between 1526 and 1552, and a bell tower, no longer existing, was attached to it.
In 1652 the convent was suppressed due to the tiny number of monks that lived there, and its property switched to the seminary of Benevento. The church was abandoned, whereas the convent was rent for a while. In 1700 the archbishop Vincenzo Maria Orsini restored both the church and the convent.
The church is now ruined and inaccessible. (And the convent went destroyed?)
Side view, with some heavy buttresses The front The front has lost all of its decorative elements, that used to belong from previous edifices: in particular there are romanesque elements, including capitols that looked inspired by the ones of Santa Sofia in Benevento. The lunette reproduces the icon of the Virgin Mary of Montevergine, and replaces a similar fresco that used to date from the 16th century.
The two ceramic panels on the sides, depicting the archangel Gabriel and St. Joseph with Baby Jesus respectively, have been placed in 2014. Due quadri in ceramica arricchiscono alla frazione Pantanari l'immagine di Maria Santissima di Montevergine [Retesei]

Inauguration of the ceramic panels.

Copyright 2014 Antonio De Capua