Forchia

From the centre to Arpaia

The main church of Forchia lies roughly halfway along Via Umberto I, on the left side of the street when coming from downhill. Just opposite the church is the access to Vico dei Sanniti, which is the area of Forchia with the oldest roots (see previous picture page); on the other hand, it's likely that even before that, between Roman and early mediaeval times, a settlement was located along the main road: it has been suggested that this rural hamlet was just behind the church, as the houses on both sides of Via Umberto I show some traces of a subdivision of the land into a regular lattice. Vico dei Sanniti would therefore be born as an expansion of this hamlet, one that was naturally protected by its position. In any case, this supposed ancient phase left no visible trace.
Via Umberto I proceeds uphill with a couple of minor alleys on the right; whereas its left row of houses opens up to give room to the main square of Forchia, Piazza Roma. Behind it is a modern tree-lined avenue, named after the Caudine Forks. The most elevated part of the main street is a modern expansion of the town centre.

Church of San Nicola di Mira

Chiesa di San Nicola di Mira

It is not known exactly when this church was erected. It was originally a secondary church depending on the Parish of Arpaia but, since the latter is rather far from Forchia, in 1654 San Nicola became a new Parish church. It took a while for the inhabitants to convince the clergy to establish this new parish seat, as the priests were probably scared that the income from the offerings would be too little for two parishes.
The church is located alongside Via Umberto I, and has a small yard in front of its main entrance. Originally it had a unique nave, but in 1847 it was decided to build two side naves, divided from the main one by two series of archs. In this occasion a second, direct entrance from the street was opened.
The original ceiling included a dome above the main altar, and was mostly painted. After the 1980 earthquake, the works of refurbishment of the church made it necessary to realize a much simpler one.
The church includes several notable wooden statues and artistic marble altars. Forchia [Wikipedia]

The Italian WP page on Forchia is the source for the information given here.

View from Via Umberto I with the bell tower A gate divides the church yard from the street; the enclosure is embellished with stone-made sills and steps. This picture has been taken before the restoration works operated at the bell tower. The main nave, with the colonnades dividing it from the side ones
Ancient stoop to the side of the main entrance Side entrance Painting on the ceiling I need help to identify the subject of this painting (it should be one of the miracles of St. Nicholas). If somebody knows it please let me know!
The bell tower after its restoration The bell tower has been restored in 2014. It features a pear-shaped top, covered with blue and green majolica shingles, and highlighted by an octagon-shaped base. It is the most noticeable element of the town centre from the alleys nearby and from uphill. A marble altar in the left nave Façade of the church The fa&ccedi;ade of the church of San Nicola is decorated in a simple fashion. It features a tympanum held by two Corynthian capitals, a stone portal, and a ceramic portrait of St. Nicholas between the two. View towards the right nave The colonnade is decorated by capitals, and couples of little angels on top of each arc. On the left is a wooden statue of the Virgin Lady, kept in front of the main altar.
Piazza Roma Piazza Roma is surrounded by buildings of different ages. Its rectangular shape perfectly suits the lattice according to which a late Roman settlement was supposedly built before the current Forchia started to develop. The concrete arch at the bottom leads to Viale delle Forche Caudine, a modern avenue. Entrance to Stroffolino House Still at the end of the 19th century, Stroffolino used to be among the main families of landlords in Forchia. Their notable residential building is located long Via Umberto I, just on the right of Piazza Roma. The stone portal has the date 1748, together with some CDA initials that denote that the owners used to belong to some other family before (maybe D'Ambrosio, like the other upper class residence in town—see previous picture page). The archs behind the portal lead to a stone-paved courtyard, where a remarkable old staircase is preserved. Centro storico di Forchia [Laboratorio GIS, Università di Trieste]

This document includes a picture of the old staircase of Stroffolino House

Stone commemorating the Caudine Forks, on the side of Viale delle Forche Caudine This monument has been realized in 1989 by the local sculptor Mario Ciaramella (born 1956). It represents the episode of the Caudine Forks: a Samnite soldier guards a Roman soldier who, deprived of his weapons and armour, is forced to pass under a yoke. During the last decades, Forchia has always contended the episode of the Caudine Forks with the neighbouring town of Arpaia, and with several towns in the province of Benevento.
Viale delle Forche Caudine Passeggiata delle Ginestre, with Mount Castello in the background Passeggiata delle Ginestre, and Passeggiata delle Rose on the other side of Viale delle Forche Caudine, are two pedestrian walks which run behind Via Umberto I, parallel to it, between the houses and the countryside. View of Via Umberto I towards uphill Decorations celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary In occasion of the celebrations for the Assumptions 2012, a sequence of images related to the life of the Virgin Mary has been realized on the ground of Via Umberto I with coloured wooden shavings.
Via Umberto I eventually leads outside the town centre of Forchia, on the Road to Arpaia, which runs between a pinaster wood and the olive groves on the slope of Mount Castello. Here the landscape gets extremely wide. Similarly as the countryside one encounters west of Forchia, the most notable element here are the olive groves, but the uphill position allows a wide perspective on the two mountain chains which get closer and closer to create the Saddle of Arpaia, with the Appian Way running inbetween to enter the Valle Caudina.
View on the area of Forchia from the slopes of Mount Castello The town of Forchia, at the feet of Mount Orni, is characterized by the presence of the bell tower of the Church of San Nicola. The hill behind it is the Puntarelle, within the territory of Arienzo. Wide-angle on the Costa Cauda mountains seen from the road The pinaster wood, and the valley west of the saddle of Arpaia, seen from uphill The mountain on the right is Mount Tairano, at the feet of which it is barely possible to see the Appian Way entering the Saddle of Arpaia. It is clear how the Partenio and the Costa Cauda surround a valley, lower than the Saddle.
This is traditionally believed to be the place where, in 321 BC, the Samnites surprised the Roman soldiers trying to get to Apulia. According to what the Roman historian Livy wrote in the Ab urbe condita libri, liber IX, indeed, the Romans were passing through a somewhat large open space, delimited by mountains, accessible from two saddles on the opposite sides. The Samnite warriors came down from the mountains and caught the Romans in the middle. As the latter understood they had no other chance, they surrendered. The Samnites decided to humiliate them forcing them to pass under a yoke, as a sign of submission. The toponymies in this area would indicate that this event actually happened here, but this is still debated, because Livy describes the place of the battle as much more impassable than it actually is: some modern historian suggests that the area underwent modifications under the centuries, but there are also several other hypotheses placing the Forks somewhere else. Localizzazione delle Forche Caudine [Wikipedia]

I have written this WP article that summarises the main hypoteses about the placement of the Caudine Forks.

Le Forche Caudine [Pro Loco Arpaia]

Another discussion about the place of the Caudine Forks. The author here argues in favour of localising the Forks around Forchia and Arpaia.

Crossroad between the road to Arpaia and Via Misciuni, just before the pinaster wood Pedestrian walk between the road and a pinaster wood
Copyright 2014 Antonio De Capua