Informazioni sul comune / Information about the town
Paolisi lies at the feet of Mount Paraturo (927 m), part of the Partenio mountain range. The town has a really simple structure, as (except for the last decades) it always grew along the same road, an ancient one that left the Appian Way just after Arpaia to follow the edge of the Partenio mountains. As a result, the current shape of the built-up area is very long and narrow. North of the town centre, the railway divides it from the farmland in the middle of Valle Caudina, and from the Appian Way that delimits the town boundary. This area is also brushed by the river Isclero.
It is not sure whether Paolisi was inhabited before Middle Ages. Around the Isclero, some remains of vertical trunks have been found, that may have been part of structures that regulated the flow of the river; some clues, mainly the local toponyms, suggest the existence of some prehistorical settlement along the river.
The name Paulisi
is mentioned for the first time in 800 AD within the testament of a Langobard nobleman, Radeprando, who left this possession of his to the important Benedictine abbey of San Vincenzo al Volturno (near Isernia). This does not give immediate information about how intensively this place was inhabited at that time, though. Several hypotheses have been formulated to explain its name: it might indicate that its inhabitants were moving from some pagus
(rural settlement); or that these lands used to belong to some Paulus
(names of Roman land owners originate lots of toponyms in this region of Italy).
Similarly as Forchia, Paolisi has always been a casale
(hamlet) depending from Arpaia until unification of Italy; most of the village and the neighbouring lands used to belong to a bunch of families from the aristocracy, or more generally local rich land owners. The town centre originated probably from two different original cores, but in any case its current setting has been largely determined in the 18th century, with the rebuilding that followed the destructions performed by some big earthquakes in 1688 and 1702. The decades from then until the beginning of the 20th century were characterized by the construction of lots of remarkable residential buildings belonging to the wealthiest families of the time. The high concentration in Paolisi of people from the upper and middle classes reflected in a relatively high number of professional workers in town. The town centre is currently suffering from some negligence, as the most important commercial area is nowadays the one lying along the course of the Appian Way.
The main street of Paolisi is characterized by more or less notable houses on both sides, arranged into tight rows that typically fracture only into short alleys and courtyards. Nevertheless, traditionally the town is traditionally divided into two parts, reflecting its original cores.
The Capo 'e Copp'
(name in dialect, meaning literally 'upper head') takes as its ideal centre the Church of San Tommaso. It is slightly more uphill than the following zone, named Capo 'e Vascio
('lower head'); this one includes the main square of Paolisi with the Church of Sant'Andrea, and the important Bove and Tirone houses.
include a smaller hamlet along the same road, For' 'e Tturre ('out of the towers'), with the big rural house of the De Mauro family; on the opposite sides of the built-up area are the farmland and, more importantly, Mount Paraturo with its woods, majestic landscapes and the remains of the mediaeval hermitage of San Berardo.