The old road leading from the centre of Cervinara to San Martino touches, after leaving Pantanari, the more important settlement of Valle. This casale is, nowadays, the farthest from the town centre and therefore it retains a partially distinct identity.
It was mentioned for the first time in 1273: parts of its soil used to belong to the monastery of San Gabriele in Airola, and the monks leased them to a man called Bartolomeo de Luciano, who was accused of having guzzled under his control also other rural properties that would belong to the Royal Court in Naples. Ten years later, Valle was given to Giovanni della Lagonessa: this was the first of the feudal achievements of the della Leonessa family in Cervinara.
Corso Caudino is the current name that the old main road takes in Valle. It runs just at the edge of the old core of Valle, and then proceeds out of the town running between the two hills called Toppa Marchese (317 m) and Toppo del Conte (390 m). An undulating stretch of farmland north of the road reaches Via Variante, the modern road that connects Cervinara with San Martino. The old casale, lying on the opposite side, is structured as usual along a single road, named Via Sacchi.

Magician's House

Casa del Mago

The so-called Casa del Mago is a liberty style villa placed along the main road, out of the centre of Valle. It is interesting for its irregular plan and the fine decorations of several of its architectural elements. Casa del Mago

Some more pictures of the Magician's house.

Front view Decorations of the balconies Statue of a peasant This irreverent statue of a working class man with a flask of wine is placed at the left corner of the railings of the building.
The Partenio mountains seen from north of Valle Among the peaks, the Pizzone on the left and the Cornito immediately on its right are easily recognisable. The other mounts are arranged into two compact rows, with the back one having its most elevated point on the left (the highest is Ciesco Alto, 1357 m). It's evident how the mountain range gets lower proceeding westward.
Viale Sant'Antonio leading to the church of Santa Maria della Valle A mural painting This mural painting, a work of Domenico Ingino, is one of the ones that decorate Cervinara with everyday scenes of the peasant life the way it appeared until a few decades ago. The town is keen not to forget this part of its history. Piazzetta Sant'Antonio It's a picturesque, small open space in front of some houses with their courtyards.
Portal of one of the last houses of Corso Caudino Valle features some portals along Corso Caudino (which, being the area of later expansion of Valle, is also the one where middle classes preferred to build their residences), but none of them is particularly remarkable. Quercino, at the border with San Martino Quercino is the northern slope of a hillock named Toppo del Conte (390 m): the old main road towards San Martino passes by this point, but it is almost forgotten now that the new Via Variante runs at the bottom of the valley. Not far from it there is an industrial area, that can be partly seen on the left in this picture. The rest of the valley bottom is divided into fields and small woods. At the bottom of this view are Mount Taburno and the old centre of Montesarchio.
Old houses in Via Sacchi The narrow via Sacchi, with its small houses almost all characterized by small portals and its private alleys, is definitely the old core of Valle. A moment of Valle's 'live Nativity' Every year at Christmas Valle is employed as theatre of the presepe vivente, i.e. representation of the Nativity of Jesus. It is conceived as a live version of the Italian (more specifically, Neapolitan) Nativity scenes in papier-maché, where Baby Jesus's stable is inserted within a bustling environment of people doing their everyday business. Usually this representation is far from being geographically or historically accurate, but it is inspired by the life of peasants, artisans and other workers from 17th century onwards (it did not undergo any substantial changes until the second half of the 20th century).
Valle's Nativity, in particular, is mainly an occasion to remember that lifestyle. Some of the houses in Via Sacchi are employed as small shops of agricultural products. The characters' clothing and the crockery appearing in this one in the picture make it particularly authentic.
Stairway to Tuoppo Valle Tuoppo Valle is a more elevated portion of Valle, accessed from this staircase at the end of Via Sacchi. Although it is definitely an old housing cluster, it is visibly altered. Old houses at Tuoppo Valle
At the other extreme of Mount Pizzone, Valle includes a block built on top of another hillock, and streches almost up to reach the northern slopes of Mount Pizzone. Similarly as Ferrari, it is topped by its parish church, simply dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Not far from this area, a path climbs the Pizzone to reach another small religious edifice: the hermitage of San Biagio.
Santa Maria of Valle with its garden The slope leading to Santa Maria of Valle is arranged as a garden, with a gazebo to be used as a prayer area. Valle seen from the churchyard The hill behind the inhabited centre is Toppo del Conte. The more elevated housing cluster on the right is Tuoppo Valle.

Church of Santa Maria of Valle

Chiesa di Santa Maria della Valle

Not much is known about this church. It is mentioned for the first time in a testament in 1367, and at that time it must have consisted only of the leftmost of the three naves constituting it. The main nave existed in the 18th century. The rightmost one, dedicated to St. Anthony, is the most recent.
The overall appearance of the church is simple but harmonic. Its most valuable elements are probably its statues.
The façade Main nave The main nave of Santa Maria of Valle is significantly higher than the side ones, and cross-vaulted.
Right nave, with St. Anthony's altar Left nave, with the choir Statue of St. Roch The arches of the right side of the main nave have been obstructed, brobably for static reasons. The altar

Hermitage of San Biagio

Eremo di San Biagio

The hermitage of San Biagio lies along the slope of Mount Pizzone, at 404 m elevation, between Valle and Castello. It is reached through an old path through the woods. It is a tiny building, consisting of a chapel and former house of the hermit.
It was mentioned for the first time in 1127 as San Biagio in monte Tolino, in a document whereby its rector Roffrit was donated some lands. In 1581 a Church inspector ordered the closure of the hermitage, and the structure was abandoned (in 1701 it was mentioned merely as a possession). The chapel, that had lost its roofing, has been restored in 2009.
St. Blaise is celebrated in Cervinara with a pilgrimage to the hermitage, every year on the Sunday after Easter: throats of the worshippers are anointed to remember the miraculous healing operated by the saint, and a picnic is organized. Ritorna la gita di S. Biagio a Cervinara [IrpiniaOggi.it]

An article from 2009 about the reinstatement of the pilgrimage to San Biagio after some years.

The path to San Biagio Rear view
View of the front side, almost at the edge of the mountain slope Cervinara seen from San Biagio On the left is Mount Cornito with (starting from the left) the casali of Castello, Ioffredo and Ferrari (on the right of the mount). The districts of Cervinara located more downhill follow. The mountains delimiting the estern side of Valle Caudina are visible (Mount Tairano with its quarry is partially covered by Mount Paraturo). Mount Taburno peekes in on the right side.
Copyright 2014 Antonio De Capua