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In this page, you find a description of Benevento city, some Recommended excursions some useful link.

The city of Benevento

Latin BENEVENTUM, city, capital and archiepiscopal see of Benevento provincia, Campania Regione, southern Italy.
The city lies on a ridge between the Calore and Sabato rivers, northeast of Naples. It originated as Malies, a town of the Oscans, or Samnites; later known as Maleventum, or Malventum, it was renamed Beneventum by the Romans. It became an important town on the Appian Way and was a base for Roman expansion in southern Italy. In 275 BC, Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, was defeated at Beneventum in his last battle with the Romans. After partial destruction by Totila, king of the Ostrogoths, in AD 452, Benevento in 571 became the capital of an important Lombard duchy controlling much of southern Italy. It passed in the 11th century to the Byzantines and then to the papacy, which ruled it--except for a brief period (1806-15) when it was governed as a principality by Napoleon's minister Talleyrand--until it became part of Italy in 1860. In 1266 Charles I of Anjou defeated and killed the Hohenstaufen Manfred, king of Naples and Sicily, at Benevento.

Although damaged by earthquakes and devastated by Allied air raids in World War II, the city preserves many historic buildings. Monuments from classical times include Trajan's Arch (Porta Aurea; AD 114-117), the ruins of a Roman theatre, and the Ponte Lebbroso, a bridge over the Sabato River. The frequently rebuilt cathedral (founded 7th century), with magnificent bronze doors; the 12th-century cloister of the Church of Santa Sofia (8th century, rebuilt 1688); and the castle (1321) are notable medieval buildings.

Benevento is an agricultural centre for wheat, grapes, olives, and vegetables; its products include almond cakes, a liqueur called Strega, chocolate, biscuits, and agricultural machinery. Wine, bricks, and matches are also manufactured. Pop. (1991 prelim.) mun., 62,683.

Recommended excursions

Sannio Museum; Trajan's Arch; Rocca dei Rettori called "the Castle"; Roman theatre.
The Wonders of Benevento

To celebrate the extension of the Appia, the Regina Viarum the "road to the East", on which subsequently Jesus met St. Peter (as the Domine, quo vadis? story recounts), and on which St. Paul traveled as a prisoner on his way to Rome, the Emperor Trajan had an arch built in 144 A.D. It was finely decorated with reliefs, and was similar to the one which Titus built in Rome.
The Arch of Trajan

About forty years later, Commodus, the son of Marcus Aurelius, built the theatre which was to be extended in the following decades. Together with what remains of the temples and baths, with the portico of the Forum and the Obelisk of Isis (as well as the Ponte Leproso by which the Appia crosses the River Sabato before entering the city), this Arch, or Porta Aurea and the theatre, one of the best-preserved in the South, of which the lower order still remain, are the finest witnesses which Benevento possesses of its Roman origins.

Obelisk of Isis Leproso Bridge Roman Theatre

The years passed, and the Middle Ages arrived; the second period of splendour for the town. In 571 the city became a Lombard capital, of an independent Duchy, like Spoleto. It survived the end of the kingdom founded in the North and endured for more than two centuries. Towers and gateways remain from this time together with the Fort of the Rector, on the summit of the hill, commonly known as the Castle of Manfred. The name, however, is rejected by scholars since it is completely arbitrary.
Port'Arsa Fort of the Rectors Fort of the Rectors

The Church of Santa Sofia also dates back to that period (it was founded in 762 by the Lombard Arechi who had recently become Duke). The Church is a Byzantine building with three apses (and the remains of the early frescoes can still be seen, featuring the stories of St. John the Baptist and the Virgin); it was completed in the twelfth century by a splendid cloister with forty-seven double capitals.
The Church of Santa Sofia

Since 1929 it has housed the Museum which was first begun a century earlier, full of eloquent reminders of the past of the area, from prehistory to our own times. There are beakers and vases from seven centuries B.C., but also sculptures from the Temple of Isis, the obelisk from the Temple of Domitian and the vases from the tomb of Telesia are shown along with paintings by Solimena and Andrea Vaccaro, as well as contemporary works by Purificato, Guttuso, Messina, Greco and others.

More information on the city of Benevento


Useful links:

Naples International Airport: http://www.gesac.it/en/index.html
Train: http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html

Last updated on December 22, 2005
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