From the Sabato river to the Ufita river

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A fun alternative to the classic tourist Itineraries is following the course of the rivers. The Sabato river Is born in the Plcentinl mountains just south of Avelllno. The first town you come across Is Serino: it Is from here that the acqueduct that supplies Naples and other cities starts. The city Is also the starting point of excursions to the Monte Terminio highlands (1,300mt) and into the Monti Picentini Park, which also has ski-lifts and hotels during the winter months. A detour to visit Solofra Is a must: set in a beautiful landscape of mountains It has treasures such as the Collegiate of San Mlchele Church, with paintings from the 1550's and 1600's (the most famous by Francesco Guarlno) and the majestic Palazzo Ducale, seat of local government. The city is considered capital of leatherware In Campania.

Atripalda, on the shores of the Sabato river, is the archaeological zone of the ancient Abellinum. One can visit the excavations in the area of Clvita, with the remains of walls, towers and a Roman house, with a garden, a pool and frescoed rooms. The building of the Dogana del grani Is a good example of Industrial archaeology, a container and a museum that hosts relics from the churches either destroyed or closed by the 1980 earthquake, and temporary exhibits.

In Prata dl Principato Ultra, sitting on an outcrop that dominates the course of the river, is one of the oldest monuments of Irplnia, the Basilica dell'Annunziata. It still retains some paleo-chrlstian structurs of the 6th century, and catacombs dating back to the 3ld-4th centuries AD, with altars, tombs and frescoes: the one depicting the Annunciation Is particularly Interesting.

Montefusco Is the Felsulae recalled by Titus Livlus. The Great Criminal Court of the Bourbons was held in Its castle, and has been nick-named the "Irpinlan Spielberg", because many patriotic fighters in the Italian Rlsorgimento were Imprisoned there. Mirabella Eclano sits where there was once an important Samnlte city, later conquered by the Romans. At the pass of Mirabella are the excavations of Aeclanum that have brought to light Important remains of the Roman city, among which the public baths, the marketplace, houses, shops and net-like walls. Many of the relics are on exhibit at the Irpino Museum of Avelllno. In the centre of Mirabella Is the church of Santa Maria Magglore (end 1800's) which preserves a priceless wooden crucifix of the 1200's, one of the best examples of Romanesque sculpture In Southern Italy.

The wide Ufita valley, to the north, Is an area rich In history and tradition, where green hills and tiny villages alternate seemingly without end. In picturesque Ariano Irpino are the Imposing remains of the Norman era castle and a lovely cathedral. A gorgeous view of the Ufita and Mescano valleys can be enjoyed from here, with the Taburno, Partenio and Matese mountains on the horizon. Pratlcally all of the area, with its villages nestled on hilltops, Is rich In castles: the most famous and best preserved Is the massive one that dominates the village of Gesualdo, where In the 1500's the famous musician and prince Carlo Gesualdo composed many of his works; and that of Zungoli, In an enchanting ancient hamlet. For a relaxing vacation of wellness one can visit the Ancient Spas of San Teodoro, not far from Villamaina In the town of Bagni dl San Teodoro.

in honour of the wheat: the festival of the straw cart in honour of the wheat: the festival of the straw cart

"The Festival of the Straw Cart" Is held every year on the third Saturday of September In Mirabella

Eclano. A straw pyramid 25 meters high, covered by ears of wheat and topped by the statue of the Grieving Virgin, Is carried to the centre of town on a cart pulled by six bulls. The obellsque is held In place by the locals with tightly pulled ropes.

Gesualdo da Venosa, prince of the madrigalists

Gesualdo da Venosa, prince of the madrigalists

The greatest Italian madrlgallst has also gone down In history for other reasons: in 1590, upon surprising his beautiful wife Maria d'Avalos with her lover In his Neapolitan palace In Piazza San Domenico Magglore, he killed them both. To escape the revenge of the families of the murdered, he took refuge In his castle at Gesualdo, where he dedicated the last years of his life to sacred music. In the Capuchin convent of Gesualdo, a painting by Giovanni Balduccl (1609) shows the prince on his knees, accompanied by his uncle Carlo Borromeo (later to become a Saint) as he begs forgiveness for the double murder. Facing the prince is his second wife, Eleonora d'Este.

Maria d'Avalos had such hair, that deserved no less gold than crown. She was all rlngslets, so the murdered was justified if his life remained forever prisoner of death.

Court Chronicler Corona, 1590

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