Informazioni sul comune / Information about the town
The territory of the town of Rotondi is, basically, a strip. Its northern half consists of farmland and small woods in the middle of Valle Caudina, whereas the southern half is part of the Partenio mountains. The town centre lies just in the middle of the strip, at the very beginning of these green mountain slopes that culminate at Colle Lordicale (652 m, at the border with Cervinara) and Cima Recuorvo (949 m, entirely included within the territory of Cervinara).
As well as Paolisi and Cervinara, Rotondi lies along via Campanina
: an ancient Roman road that, running through the mountains, was meant as a shortcut to the path of the Appian Way to get from Valle Caudina to Irpinia, without passing through Benevento. No surprises, then, that some ancient tombs and other sporadic remains have been found just uphill the town centre. The structure itself of the inhabited area, arranged into small clusters of dwellings close to each other, is believed to have originated from agricultural hamlets of Roman age.
The first documented mention of the village occurs in 1245: this area was a possession of the De Rotundis family, hence the name of the village. In this period a Universitas
(ancestor of the town council) was also established, and created sort of a local identity even if the built-up tissue was very loose. The symbol of the unity of population became a statue of the Virgin Mary, kept in a chapel uphill: and, still nowadays, the Sanctuary of Madonna della Stella is the symbol of Rotondi.
It would be difficult to retrace what happened later: for a long while, Rotondi was part of a larger fief administrated in Cervinara, that swapped between several different families. Documents usually refer to this area as Rotondi and Campora (the latter is now a neighbourhood) but do not make any precise distinction when listing churches, or possessions. In 1545, anyway, Rotondi is mentioned as Castrum Rotundorum
, meaning that is was a fortified town with some sort of castle. In 1579, Diana Mancuso purchased the fief of Rotondi and Campora, separating it from Cervinara.
During the following couple of centuries, Rotondi did not develop any compact urban structure: the casali
(hamlets) constituting it tended instead towards stabilization. In the 19th century they were 9 and, even though the modern growth in population glued them altogether, they are still popularly remembered and distinguished from each other. A number of churches and chapels were located in this area, but almost none of them exists any more. Population was mostly poor, living of agriculture and exploitation of the wood from the mountains. Even though an agricultural middle class was rising and strengthening, trades in the village developed much later than in Cervinara, for example.
Meanwhile, Rotondi kept the seat of a fief for some centuries; in 1638, the feudatory Marino Cortese was promoted to marquise of Rotondi. But his descent ended soon, and the fief was bought by the Caracciolo family, marquises of Sant'Eramo: Marino Caracciolo in 1696 gathered again in his hands Rotondi-Campuri with Cervinara; they remained unite until the end of feudalism (1806).
The town is still largely living of agriculture, but during the last decades some sort of industrial area has been established all around the Appian Way, which runs at the northern extreme of the town territory: this originated the suburb of Campizze.
The centre of Rotondi is Piazza Vittorio Emanuele with Corso Del Balzo
: the former is the main square, with its iconic clock tower and the remains of the marquises' palace; behind it are the public gardens, which preserve a World War II aircraft. The latter is the main road with a 18th-century expansion, including the remarkable Maietta House. Annunziata and Campizze
are, respectively, an old casale
hosting the parish church and some other notable residential buildings; and a recently developed district preserving an older rural church. Between them there is the countryside of Rotondi, with the above mentioned casale
Another subject are the mountains, with the 16th-century sanctuary of Madonna della Stella
; it is located in a good vantage point above the valley, and hosts a statue of the Virgin Mary that is still object of a widespread devotion, not limited to the town boundaries.