Forchia

Farmland

The north-western neighbourhoods of Forchia are not geographically part of the Valle Caudina, as they are located outside its entrance, the Saddle of Arpaia: they can be rather considered as the eastern extreme of another, smaller valley, named Valle di Suessola. Looking at this area from North to South, one first encounters a series of high grounds, called the Cugniuolo, half-covered by olive groves. These slopes decline and reach the valley bottom, consisting mostly of farmland. At its bottom the Appian Way runs, leading from the city of Caserta to the Saddle of Arpaia. Here some small suburbs were born; the main one, called Cagni, is roughly one century old and features a small Church dedicated to Saint Alphonsus.
Forchia seen from Montagnella The dense group of houses just on the right of the bell tower of the church of San Nicola is the one all around Vico dei Sanniti, one of the two oldest cores of Forchia. Falco manor farm Masseria Falco or delle molliche, dating from the 18th century, is a rural dwelling arranged around a courtyard. It's basically the only older building along the mountain slopes opposite Forchia, and several authors refer that its perimeter wall guzzled remains of Roman constructions in opus reticulatum, and an ancient aqueduct was also spotted. It is thought these remains (now invisible) belong to a Roman villa; some old authors also proposed its identification with the one of Cocceius near Caudium where Horace dined and slept, as he refers within his Satires, but this is very controversial. S. & L. Quilici, Carta archeologica e ricerche in Campania, Parte 3, L'Erma di Bretschneider [Google Books]

Check Site 56 for a more detailed account of the Roman remains at Masseria Falco.

The Partenio mountains, seen from Montagnella The mountain on the left is Mount Castello of Arpaia; the one on the right is Mount Orni.

Church of Sant'Alfonso Maria de' Liguori

Chiesa di Sant'Alfonso Maria de' Liguori

This small and simple church was built along the Appian Way, at its crossing with the road leading to the centre of Forchia. The church was built during the 19th century, but it became Parish church only in 1959. After the 1980 earthquake that damaged most buildings in this area, it has been kept closed for 12 years.
The church has a unique nave with a frescoed ceiling. The altar is located in a distinguished environment, under a dome; behind it is a half-circle-shaped apse. The bell tower ends with a pear-shaped roofing, quite common in this region of Italy. Originally it was covered with a pattern of yellow and green ceramic shingles. There is a small park aside the church, along the road to Forchia.
The church as seen from the Appian Way The apse and the main altar Statue of St. Clement Statue of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787) has been bishop of Sant'Agata de' Goti for 13 years. During this time he showed a big commitment in constrasting a famine (1764), and for this reason he is very dear to the former Diocese of Sant'Agata (now part of the Diocese of Cerreto Sannita), of which Forchia was part. Fresco on the ceiling: St. Alphonsus takes care of Pope Clement XIV This fresco represents a prodigy that Alphonsus de Liguori is supposed to have performed while bishop in Sant'Agata: he was seen at the same time sitting in Sant'Agata, and comforting Pope Clement XIV, who was about to die, in Rome. Glimpse on the upper façade and the bell tower The façade is decorated in a simple neoclassical style. A portrait of Saint Alphonsus, realized in ceramic tiles, has been placed in an oval between the tympanum and the door. The church seen from the park on the rear A WWII machine gun kept in the park It is quite common that wrecks of weapons and vehicles used during the World War II are kept in public areas.
As one moves southward to Forchia's town centre, the ground level rises again. The most evident plantations in the whole area are, in addition to olives, cherry trees—indeed a festival of the cherries is held in Forchia every year. In the westmost portion, called Rella, a small industrial area was built, as well as the town cemetery, and surprisingly the main meeting hall of the Jehovah's witnesses in the whole Campania region. Here some archaeological discoveries testify the existence of a Roman villa with some tombs attached; more have been found near the valley bottom.
Sagra della Ciliegia

Information about the Festival of the Cherry. (Site visited in 2013)

S. & L. Quilici, Carta archeologica e ricerche in Campania, Parte 3, L'Erma di Bretschneider [Google Books]

Site 68 in this book is the remains of the Roman villa in Rella. It is not completely readable on Google Books, but a couple of photos are visible in the following pages.

Stone belonging to a Roman press Several archaeological remains have been found around the countryside surrounding the cemetery of Forchia, which may belong to tome Roman villa. The only one I have been able to locate is this stone, in front of a house under construction, just opposite the meeting hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. The cavity at its top is paired with a similar one the other side: they were probably used to fix a timber, and this leads to suppose that the stone was part of a vat. The cemetery chapel
Plantation of cherry trees near Cagni Olive trees on the Pizzone, the elevations leading to the town centre The meeting hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, with Costa Cauda in the background The portions of mountain slope covered with shorter trees, of a lighter green, are all olive groves. Ruins of a country house at Rella, near the industrial area The slopes of Mount Orni as seen from its feet
Copyright 2014 Antonio De Capua