Dated back to the III century b. C., it stands in the high Calore Valley, in the heart of the Cilento Park, on a rock got away from the Cavallo Mountain. The origin of this name could be linked to the laurels that cover the surrounding hills and the underlying valley. It boasts the presence of many artists, men of letters, jurisconsults; it was a village of craftsmen of great value and enlightened connoisseurs of the country.
Laurino is famous in Italian history of printery, because it was here that the first printshop was founded. The books printed here between the XV and the XVI century stood out for the clearness and the precision of the corrections.
Among the others there is a legal work, quoted by Antonini, printed in conformity with this printery pattern, dated 1510. Witness of vitality and civil and democratic activities is the “Seat” in the central square.
Centre of great religious culture, it had the honour of hosting some synods. Clunged over a spur pushed out into the chasm, Laurino is one of the most populated, fascinating and rich of history villages belonging to the Calore Valley. Rightly Laurino can boast the title of City of Art. Something worth to see is Santa Maria Maggiore Collegiate Church, which dates back to the year 1000, made famous by the numerous synods celebrated inside it, the most important of which was that celebrated in December 1649, on the days 12th, 13th and 14th under Monsignor Tommaso Carafa. The most ancient nucleus of the church, raised to collegiate church in 1577, has to be localized in the crypt which occupies the part underlying the presbytery and the wooden chorus. The only nave is rounded by a wide presbytery. On the left wall there is the wooden pulpit, sculptured by Vincenzo Ippolito from Laurino, dating back to the end of the last century; among other things, there is the reproduction of Saint Helen’s urn. Saint Helen dead as a hermit in a cave on Mount Pruno, and her mortal remains were taken back to Laurino in 1882, after being for centuries the object of gift and reverence in various Episcopal sees.
The festival of the patron Saint Helen is very interesting; it recurs several times a year, so much is the devotion to the saint: on 22nd May, 18th August, 10th October. On 29th June, then, people go on a pilgrimage to Pruno nearby Saint Helen’s cave, the place where she died. A tradition bound to the Saint is represented by the “fanoie”, which every Sunday of May lighten up in the various neighbourhoods, where people intone chants in her honour.
Monuments and natural beauties...
- Town Hall, named since 1225, since when many juridical acts were made inside its arcade.
Santa Maria Maggiore Collegiate Church, which dates back to the year 1000, made famous by the numerous synods celebrated inside it, the most important of which was that celebrated in December 1649, on the days 12th, 13th and 14th under Monsignor Tommaso Carafa. The most ancient nucleus of the church, raised to collegiate church in 1577, has to be localized in the crypt which occupies the part underlying the presbytery and the wooden chorus. The only nave is rounded by a wide presbytery. On the left wall there is the wooden pulpit, sculptured by Vincenzo Ippolito from Laurino, dating back to the end of the last century; among other things, there is the reproduction of the Saint Helen’s urn. Saint Helen dead as a hermit in a cave on Mount Pruno, and her mortal remains were taken back to Laurino in 1882, after being for centuries the object of gift and reverence in various Episcopal sees.
Municipal Theatre; since ‘700 it has had a municipal theatre erected over the ruins of the ancient convent of Saint Agostino. From the ‘30s to the ‘50s it could host very good theatrical companies, that were for the major part from Naples.
Ognissanti Church, very ancient. Inside the church beautiful pictures are treasured. Among these there is the “Worship of the Three Kings”, which dates back to the second half of 400 and belongs to the chorus, rich of art; on the right wall of the nave we can find a beautiful oil painting.
Annunziata Church, which dates back to 1500. It has got only one nave, a high altar with lots of decorations and a wonderful eagle in the Ciborium. There is represented the Madonna with the Angel in a valuable painting by Girolamo Siciliano. We can notice in particular the Madonna of the Snow Altar and San Joseph’s Altar. The ceiling is richly decorated with Saint Helen’s image.
Saint Anthony from Padova Church. The wooden portal at the entrance, with pictures of Saint Anthony Saint Francesco and other Saints in bas-relief, made by Gerolamo Consolmagno, master of carving from Aquara, introduces in a space decorated with valuable stuccoes, with a high altar, made of wood, too, rounded by other eight altars that famous patrician families made build.
Saint Matteo Church of 1259
San Pietro Church, of which only few ruins remain.
Saint Lorenzo Church, very ancient; inside it we can find a great wooden crucifix of 1408 with the inscription “Magister Nicolaus me fecit”. Moreover, we can find an old bell which, according to the tradition, was sounded only in the most terrible moments to gather the whole population, as in case of wars, invasions or other calamities.
Saint Biagio Church, built in 1352, inside which a precious cloth is treasured, covering the high altar and representing the deposition of the Cross. At the foot of Santo Stefano altar a really rare picture portraying the Last Supper and Christ’s capture with Saint Peter cutting Malco’s ear. The scene ends with the crucifixion.
Urban Chapel of Sant’Elena, with a cover with a barrel vault with eight pictures painted on the plaster. These ones represent the main events of the Saint’s life. In the niche of the high altar we can find the wooden statue of Saint Helen.
Sant’Elena Chapel, situated inside Pruno Grotta del Bosco. Here the Saint lead an anchoritic life and died. The chapel has become, for this reason, a sanctuary for the Laurino inhabitants by means of the municipality, which erected an altar and collocated there a marble statue. On the left side of the altar we can see the ancient sepulchre of the Blessed Soul.
San Michele Arcangelo Chapel, was erected by the Longobards inside the cave at the slopes of the so called Mount Costa della Salvia. On the altar a statue of the saint was erected in 1800.
Madonna della Scordata Chapel, which hasn’t got an altar.
Santa Maria del Carmelo Chapel. On the altar we can find Our lady’s of Carmine image, painted on a plate.
Santa Maria delle Grazie Chapel; on the wall we have some images painted in 1599; we can find there Saint Eligio altar with the sepulchre.
San Cataldo, San Rocco, San Giovanni and Santa Maria del Mondo Chapels
Santa Lucia, San Nicola del Pozzo and San Nicolò from Bari private Chapels.
Antiquarium, where the patrimony, partly wrenched from the ground surrounding Laurino, is treasured. It consists of terracotta pots, points of arrows, millstones, blades, animal and vegetal remains, and its very remote origins are proved above all by some archaeological bodies, like the Fraulusi cave at Pruno and the Tempa of San Giovanni.
Sant’Antonio da Padova monastery. The entrance is held up by pillars enriched with numerous paintings which recall the Saint’s life. Connected to the Convent there is the Church, to which one can have access from the Pronaos, over the vault of which one can admire rich paintings representing Saint Anthony’s life. An admirable work of art is the wooden entrance door all sculptured in several panels encapsulated into frames. The church has got only one nave and the whole wooden ceiling is richly decorated with scenes from Saint Anthony’s triumph with lots of his miracles. Undoubtedly very precious is the high altar, all sculptured in wood and decorated with the image of the Saviour over the ciborium. Other three altars enrich the church, and on their sides there are burial mounds and tombstones of famous people.
San Benedetto monastery
Sant’Agostino monastery, of which only the church with one ogival nave remains today.
Ruins of the Benedictan Cenobio dedicated to San Simeone, because the farmers of the place had elected him as protector.
Spirito Santo monastery, quadrilateral-shaped on two gardens.
Longobard Castle, which was built around 1110; the access to it is across a great stair. The path, then, leads to a portal characterized by a stony badge, across which one can reach the vestibule. On the first floor, in the right wing, one can find the dining room, where a wooden sideboard built in the wall called “comedor”, stands out; in the left wing, instead, one can find the great room of the oath, at the centre of which one can notice the wooden sculptured and golden throne scaled by a badge. At the ground floor one can find a room and a kitchen for the house-steward, besides the offices for secretaries. In the vaults there were the cellars, an oven and a place called “larderia” which was a storehouse for lard and sausage meat.
Torno Valley, from which the visitor can overpass a gap at one thousand meters, to go then again down and enter into the beech wood, a beautiful wood where the visitor can find trunks bigger than 3 meters of diameter. These woods are excellent repairs for the wolf, which is very rare in the Appennino of Campania. Over the beeches the brilliant calcareous walls stand out, and from these, occasionally, the figure of a great bird of prey, a buzzard or a kite, goes away. But, in very extraordinary cases we can even see a wandering exemplary of an eagle.
Grava di Vesalo, of great scientific and speleological interest, one of most famous for European speleologists between carstic phenomena. It represents the greatest swallow-hole inside the mountain combination Alburni-Cervati. A swallow-hole is a cavity, generally funnel-shaped, which appears because of the process of melting of the carbon rocks (as the limestones, the dolomite, the marbles) made soluble by a reaction between carbon acid (carbon dioxide in a solution of water) and the calcium carbonate of which rocks are composed. The notable wetness and the particularity of the ground have permitted the developing of particular forms of flora and fauna.
The most ancient archaeological evidences of the high Calore Valley date back to the last Neolithic – end of the IV and beginning of the III millennium b. C. The time of the foundation is almost uncertain, but from what we know about Sanniti Pentri, it was probably founded during the III century b. C. (278 b. C.) during the geological Tertiary period.
Thanks to its position, dominating over the high Calore Valley, at the slopes of Mount Cavallo, Laurino has always been considered a fortress, so much to undergo, after roman domination, the conquest and the influence of the barbaric peoples and the confining populations. Laurino, since the beginning, followed the destiny of Rome, both during the Republican and the Imperial Age and tasted the vicissitudes of the various barbaric peoples that invaded the peninsula. Their invasion introduced the institution of feudality in the society.
Destroyed by Federico II for supporting the Guelph party, joining the Sanseverino, Laurino belonged to this family in 1273. It was protected by King Charles, in 1296, who sent there soldiers, and to repay the inhabitants of Laurino for their loyalty, he freed them from the payment of taxes for 10 years. The Sanseverino family (Guglielmo, Earl of Capaccio) was held rebel and belonging to the conspiracy of the barons, and so they were dispossessed of the barony, but were restored in their possessions by King Ferrante in 1496, by Federico of Aragona and by Ferdinando the Catholic in 1506.
But the village rose again from its ruins coming back to a new splendour in the XVI sec, when it was recognized Civitas Laurini with a full administrative and juridical autonomy. The main square, because of the only presence of the “seat” or forum, reminds of the glorious period of the Commons. During this period many artists, men of letters, jurisconsults, got to Laurino; it was a village of craftsmen of great value and enlightened connoisseurs of the country.
During the centuries Laurino inhabitants have always shown a great public spirit and great solidarity, as witnessed by the charity works and some public works like hospitals and orphanages. After some years of events, Laurino was dominated by some dukes, from the Monteforte and the Sanseverino to the Carafa and Spinelli. The last representative was Duke Giuseppe, who ruled over it till 1806, the year in which it passed to the Bourbon family of Naples. After the coming of the French, it was chief town of district with the privilege of the presence in situ of bailiffs and financial officers, who, unfortunately, have been abolished because of a state law. In that period the old technical school, the only one in the zone, represented a pride for Laurino.
Laurino too was involved in the Neapolitan revolution and in the Cilento revolts, where it lost some of its citizens. While Pio IX, elected Pope, began a new period of freedom and unity, with a general wide amnesty, on 12th January 1848 the revolts of Naples and Palermo broke out. Costabile Carducci of Capaccio left from Naples together with the Sicilian Leipnecher and De Mattia from Vallo della Lucania to promote the Cilento revolt, which broke out, and in Vallo the First Temporary Government took over. King Ferdinando let directly leave Colonel Carlo Lalle from Naples with some company of soldiers and two pieces of artillery. The Colonel stopped at Eboli for one night and then marched heading straight for Laurino, having been informed that the liberal men of the area were all in that place. After a tiring march of 4 days, he reached the surroundings of the village where the Battle of Laurino took place. He put up a fierce resistence, but many heroes died. At 11 o’ clock Laurino, overwhelmed by its enemies, capitulated, and Santangelo, to whom the Colonel asked why he hadn’t raised the white flag, answered that Laurino knew only one flag: that one of the Native Land. The village sacrificed itself on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and was sacked and destroyed by fire. All the people dead in Laurino were unknown because the enemies recorded only the foreigners to avoid further persecutions. As happens in all the wars, in Laurino too there was who took advantage of the general chaos to commit abuses: in the night of 7th October 1806 the group leader Nicola Tommasini invaded Laurino, sacking it.
In the following years the incursions went on: many disappeared, unsure about the coming back of Ferdinando, and since then the illegal action made of violence and abuses began. Then, it laid to the phenomenon of the Brigandage, even if it was intended as a fight and not as an ideal. Giuseppe Tardio’s band widened till comprehending 2000 men. A hundred of Laurino inhabitants joined this band, whose headquarter was at Pruno of Laurino. Only four or five Laurino inhabitants joined the real brigandage. Tardio took up the grade of sergeant-major; on 14th October his band clashed with the National Guard of Corleto Monteforte. The aim of the National Guard was always political, because they believed in Federico II’s coming back. After him, probably his band made actions fit for the real brigandage. After numerous events he was arrested and sent into exile on the island of Favignana, and, then, when Italy passed under an Italian king, he wore the tricolour flag and served his country till his death, in 1832.
Laurino counts between its sons some precursors of the Risorgimento. Giosuè Sangiovanni was forced to go into exile in France after the happenings of 1799; when he came back home he was professor at the University of Naples, where he founded the Zoological Museum. Thanks to his credits as a scientist, he had the permission to leave again to France, where he was given the title of Knight of the Legion of Honour. His son Roberto fought with Garibaldi as his personal doctor; after several events, which gave him the Golden Medal as a “Well-deserving of Public Health”, he devised a new system of nourishment based on fruit and dried meat, not to strain the stomach. The destruction of the village, however, didn’t demoralize the Laurino inhabitants, who kept on fighting for the Risorgimento of their Native Country in all the wars for the independence. Remarkable was the contribution during the two wars.