Altavilla Silentina is situated at 275 m above the sea-level and it is surrounded by the wonderful Alburni Mountains.
According to a legend, Altavilla was founded by Roberto il Guiscardo and destroyed in 1246 by Federico II who punished it for having protected the rebel barons. The houses are on a hill covered by olive trees. Along the main road there are the handicraft shops and it is possible to listen to the music of the many musicians that live here.
Around Altavilla there are rich woods: Chianca wood, made of Turkey oaks, hornbeams and manna ashes, Macchia wood made of Turkey oaks; Foresta with Turkey oaks and ilexes, there are also nice path to walk and garden seats. The town is crossed by two rivers: Calore river and its affluent, Cosa. On Calore River the otter lives.
The Crib show is very interesting (from 8th December to 5th January). San Biagio Church is actually beautiful. It was built in 1305 and rebuilt in XVIII century in late-Baroque style. The church is decorated with stuccoes and gildings; there are the beautiful paintings by the artist from Polla, Nicola Peccheneda and the organ by Silverio Carrelli di Vallo. In the crypt there is the perfectly kept relic of San Germano. The most charming element of the church is the parvis that gives the possibility to admire the wonderful landscapes of Valle del Sele.
Monuments and natural beauties...
- Norman castle of XI century, that belonged to the beautiful princess Isabella Villamarina with whom Carlo V fell in love
Sant’Antonino Church, built in 1492. There is only a nave. It has been recently frescoed by contemporary artists
House of Saverio Mottola, an artist of ‘700
San Biagio Church, it was built in 1305 and rebuilt in XVIII century in late-Baroque style. The church is decorated with stuccoes and gildings; there are the beautiful paintings by the artist from Polla, Nicola Peccheneda and the organ by Silverio Carrelli di Vallo. In the crypt there is the perfectly kept relic of San Germano. The most charming element of the church is the parvis that gives the possibility to admire the wonderful landscapes of Valle del Sele
Carmine Church, built in 1560
Montevergine Church of 1700, with the frescoes by Andrea Capasso di Sicignano
San Francesco Monastery (1425), with the blessed statue of Saint Anthony of Padua and two paintings by Francesco Solimena portraying the Saint
San Lorenzo archaeological area with the ruins of a house, a Baptistery and a tomb
Madonna della Neve archaeological area
Assunta Church built in 1755
Sant’Egidio Church, built in 1110, the most ancient of the town, today it’s closed
Chianca, Macchia and Foresta woods
The origins of Altavilla are very ancient as a painted tomb of VII century b.C. testifies. The Borgo Carillia hamlet is maybe the same Carillia destroyed by Hannibal according to the tale by Silio Italico.
According to a legend, Altavilla was founded by Roberto il Guiscardo. Altavilla means “a town on a mountain” and in the past it was called Altavilla of Principato Citra or di Capaccio or del Cilento until 1862. In 1862 the name changed in Altavilla Silentina because it was near Sele River.
Norman Altavilla is surrounded by walls, with different entrances: porta di Susa (East), porta di Sant’Egidio (South), porta di di San Biagio (West), then a northern door was built, Porta Nuova. Maybe Federico II ordered the destruction of the towers that were on these entrances, when the rebel barons took refuge in Altavilla after the Conspiracy of Capaccio. Only San Biagio Church was not destroyed. The towers were rebuilt during Angevin period.
In 1269 Carlo I d’Angiò gave Altavilla to his Chamberlain Martino di Dardano who obtained also Persano and Sant’Angelo port. Dardano was allowed by the king in 1277 to institute in Altavilla a five-day market in August and to transport from the Sele port the wheat to be sold to Amalfi.
In 1363 the feud passed to Ruggiero Sanseverino until 1564 when it passed to Nicola Grimaldi, prince of Salerno who gave it to his son, Agostino, duke of Eboli. On the 26th June 1596, the feud was sold from Grimaldi family for almost 33.000 ducats to Beatrice Putigna who sold it in 1608 to Antonio Parisio, on behalf of Colonna family. Giacomo Colonna introduced in Altavilla the cow buffaloes but the inhabitants were not happy for that because the animals damaged the vegetation.
In 1646 Giacomo Colonna became the marquis of Altavilla and the feud remained to Colonna family until the beginning of 1700 when it passed to Spinelli family, counts of Bovalino and dukes of Castelluccia, they didn’t have heirs and the feud returned to the king. Carlo di Borbone gave it to Gabriele Solimena, a nobleman from Nocera dei Pagani. The feud was ruled by his family until 1806, when feudality was abolished.