The view embraces the entire Sabato valley, which still appears green around the city. And then the chain of Partenio and, on the opposite side, the Picentini Mountains.
A glance which does justice to the beauty of the Irpinia landscape from the highest point of Avellino: a tower. With its thirty-six meters in height, the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower), which allows to sweep all around, is visible, in turn, from every part of the county seat. And it is, in fact, the monument symbol of the city, whose restoration marked the rebirth after the 1980 earthquake.
It was in the seventeenth century that Prince Francesco Marino Caracciolo requested the construction of the Tower, whose project was probably drawn up by the great Cosimo Fanzago, who was in Avellino precisely in the role of Caracciolo’s adviser. However, the architect Giovan Battista Nauclerio finalised the work, where in the past there was a bell tower. In baroque style, the tower was initially on two floors with a squared bosses basement. It was only later that a third level was added with the four faces clock and the “diana”, which rang to signal any imminent danger in the town. Damaged by the earthquakes of 1688 and 1742, the tower was restored at the end of eighteenth century and then again after the seism of November 1980, thanks to the recovery of various original parts.
On Piazza Amendola where the tower stands, there was already at the beginning of the year 1000 a public edifice, where the intense commercial traffic of the city was managed. The palace of the Dogana housed the goods exchange and the most important city fairs, on the occasion of the anniversaries in honor of the Madonna Assunta and the patron saint San Modestino, as well as being used for the Tuesday and Saturday market. In the context of the important interventions launched by Prince Marino I Caracciolo to restore and embellish Avellino, a Baroque restyling of the building was planned by Cosimo Fanzago. Therefore, the palace got a new appearance in 1657, when it was equipped with a facade in which lunettes and niches appeared in order to house the statues of the Roman emperors, a statue of Venus Anadyomene and one of Prince Marino Caracciolo, with the emblems. Other statues came from the ancient Abellinum, Acquired in the Twentieth century by private individuals and converted into a cinematographic room, after the damage caused by the 1980 earthquake, a fire destroyed it, leaving only the facade and part of the perimeter walls, mute testimony of the splendor that it was.
In the square, in front of the Dogana, there is the Obelisk to Charles II of Habsburg, another work signed by Cosimo Fanzago, under request of the University (the Town Hall of that time) of Avellino in 1688. A tribute to to sovereign who ascended the throne as a child, who is portrayed in the bronze statue on the top of the spire. And due to the fact that Charles is represented at the age he was (seven years old) when the work was built,, Avellino people renamed him “reuccio di bronzo”. (“the bronze little king”). Under the obelisk, there is a tondo with the portrait of Fanzago. Both the statue and the tondo, together with other parts of the monument like the bronze rosettes at the base of the spire, were saved from the earthquake of 1732, then the work was reassembled and moved, in order to be then relocated in the square.
Fontana Caracciolo and above all, for the Avellino people, Fontana dei tre cannuoli… The Fountain of Bellerofonte is know by different names,
easily accessible from Piazza della Torre. From the seventeenth century, there were several statues adorning it in the original version, some coming from the excavations of the ancient Abellinum. Many got lost because of the various earthquakes that happened over the centuries. But among what is remaining, there are still ancient inscriptions and the emblem of the Caracciolo family.
In front of the historic fountain, on the ancient Via Regia delle Puglie, which from the time of Charles III of Bourbon connected Campania and Puglia passing also by Avellino, there is the Church of Santa Maria di Costantinopoli, built in the sixteenth century on an oratory and later rebuilt after the 1732 earthquake. Baroque as it is now, it houses works by Solimena’s pupils, of Ricciardi, Guarino and Cosimo Fanzago, author of the valuable marble altar with two angels. The painting representing the Deposition and the Madonna with Child and Madonna with Child in glory are of particular value. The sixteenth-century complex of the church of San Generoso and the nearby convent overlooks Via delle Puglie. The church was originally dedicated to the Holy Spirit, before the new game took place in 1832. Like the other sacred edifices of the city, it has been reworked several times over the years. It houses the tomb of Bishop Felice Leone II. Also on Strada Regia delle Puglie, the church of San Giovanni Battista with the Monastery of Santa Maria di Monserrat is worth a visit, both built in 1558 on a land donated to the Benedictines of Montevergine by the countess Maria de Cardona. The complex was renovated in the eighteenth century, on the initiative of Prince Camillo Caracciolo. The San Giovanni Battista by Michele Ricciardi, the Nativity by Palomba from 1756 and the dark statue of the Madonna di Monserrat from the 16h century are of particular artistic interest.
In the highest place, on the hill of La Terra, where the new city’s life had begun, a first place of worship was built during the Lombard period, already existing in 969 when the archdiocese of Avellino was established. Becoming two small, the first church of Santa Maria was demolished to leave the space to the actual Cathedral, built between 1132 and 1166. Originally in Romanesque style, the cathedral was built since the beginning dedicated to the Assunta. The geological events of the city made it obligatory over the centuries veto recover and restore the structures, which, however, maintained the characteristics of the Romanesque until the Seventeenth century when the first changes happened according to the new architectural and artistic trends. The eighteenth-century interventions definitively changed the Cathedral appearance, making it a Baroque monument, as well as strengthening the foundations in 1709. Works which, together with the ones made in the twentieth century after the war, made it possible to avoid disastrous consequences from the earthquake of 1980. Instead, the facade was rebuilt in 1857 on a design by the architect Pasquale Cordola and built with marbles decorated in neoclassical style, with three entrance portals and the statues of the patron saint of the city, San Modestino da Antiochia, and the patron saint of Irpinia, San Guglielmo da Vercelli. The bell tower with a square plan has a stone base from the Roman period of the 1st century BC, coming from Abellinum and has a characteristic onion dome.
The Latin cross interior is divided into three naves with ten chapels; the coffered ceiling with gilded wood is adorned with a large canvas dedicated to Maria Assunta in cielo (Mary of the Assumption), by Michele Ricciardi in the first decade of the eighteenth century. The arches between the naves and the domes which give light to the side aisles were painted by Achille Iovine. Of the numerous art works exhibited in the mother church of Avellino, the most important painting is located in the Chapel of the Magi: the Adoration of the Magi from the end of the sixteenth century by Marco Pino da Siena, even if recently it has been hypothesized that it is attributed to Ippolito Borghese.. Also in the right aisle, the Chapel of the Crucifixion opens, which houses the relic of a Holy Thorn from Jesus crown and a fragment of the Cross donated by Charles of Anjou and coming from the Royal Cathedral of Paris, protected by a precious reliquary in the shape of the cross by Biagio Guariniello. You can also admire the Crucifixion of Jesus. In right aisle, the Chapel of the Assumption houses the venerated wooden statue of the Immaculate Conception, which is carried in procession every 15th of August, a masterpiece by Nicolò Fumo. In the left apse of the presbytery, there is the Chapel of the Treasure of San Modestino, the most important, which houses the relics of the Saint (to whom the Cathedral is also dedicated) and of Saints Flaviano and Fiorentino, solemnly tranferred to Avellino on 10th of June 1166. The chapel was built after the earthquake of the 1688 on a project by Giovan Battista Nauclerio, who used the best Neapolitan craftsmen of the time for the rich wooden decorations and precious marble and for artistic glass windows. The silver bust of San Modestino by Biagio Guariniello is of great value. In the apse the magnificent sixteenth-century wooden choir is remarkable; the main altar is from the eighteenth century and replaces a previous one, perhaps by Fanzago; the vault is frescoed with three episodes from San Modestino’s life by Achille Iovine.
From the transept of the cathedral, you can access the space below the central nave, where the church of Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori is located, known as the crypt of the Addolorata. It is the most ancient part of the entire Duomo complex and keeps the original Romanesque style. White columns with early Christian capitals separate the three naves. On the vaults, there are the paintings by Michele Ricciardi. From the crypt, where some Bishops of Avellino are buried, you go down into the Lombard tunnels.
In Piazza Duomo, you can se the confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, dating back to 1768, first located in the convent of ConventualFriars Minor. It was built in 1780 on a project by the architect Oronzo de Conciliis. The paintings by Michele Ricciardi and a group of statues of the Madonna del Carmine with Child from the 17th century is of particular interest. Casually discovered under the floor, there is the crypt of San Biagio, an ancient burial place.
Nearby the Cathedral, there is also the church of Holy Trinity, born as an Oratory in the Seventeenth century and later consecrated to the Holy Trinity of the Poor n 1735, when it was built as a parish by Bishop Felice Leone. Destroyed by the earthquake of 1805, rebuilt and again damaged by the seism in 1980, it was closed and is now home to theology courses. The prestigious painting of the Trinity by Solimena from 1672 was saved at the Superintendence.
In the Rione Terra, behind the Cathedral, at the end of the seventeenth century, the architect Luigi Maria de Conciliis built on a family land the De Conciliis Palace, better known to the Avellino people as Victor Hugo’s Palace. In what he remembered as a “palais de marbre”, a marble palace, between 1807 and 1808, in the middle of the French decade, the future great novelist lived when he was only eight years old, who reached Avellino with is family following his father Joseph Léopold Sigisbert, governor of the city.
Once you have reached Corso Umberto I, a must-see is the Casina del Principe, which gave access to the wonderful park of the Castle, among the splendors of the city, a sought-after hunting reserve for the nobles who came to Avellino as guests of the Caracciolo family. Camillo Caracciolo built it in 1591. Enormous damage was caused by the attacks suffered in 1646, at the time of the revolution of Masaniello. In the nineteenth century, as we can read in the travel journals of that time, the building was transformed into a tavern and a furnished hotel for the stopover of travelers who went from Naples to Puglia. The construction, which is visitable, is developed around a courtyard with a square plan leading to stables and to the park. The semi circular fountain which was used as a drinking through is characteristic. Nearby stood the Castle of which only the ruins remain. And in Piazza Castello there is the Carlo Gesulado Theatre.
Among Avellino churches, the Church of San Francesco Saverio presents reasons of interests. The church is also called Santa Rita for the statue of the Saint. The altarpiece by Fedele Fischetti above the altar is from 1767 is valuable. In Piazza del Popolo, the Church of Santa Maria del Rifugio or church of Sant’Anna dates back to the early eighteenth century and houses a painting of the Virgin Mary with Purging Souls which has never been damaged by seismic events nor by the bombs of the last world war. On the hill of the Cappuccini, the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie stands , with the convent from 1580 and the church from four years later, which keep various art works such as the Deposition by Silvestro Buono from 1551 with a portrait of the client of the noble Spadafora family. In the district of Ferrovia, the modern church of San Francesco d’Assisi stands out for a famous mural about peace. Of great importance to the city’s history, the Convent of the Cappuccini has various art works inside and a courtyard adorned with a characteristic well and terracotta lunettes. And the Church of Perpetual Adoration, with a single nave, shows a beautiful painted wooden ceiling and a canvas by Ricciardi.
Going back, after having passed the Duomo and the Tower, you reach Piazza della Libertà, formerly Largo dei Tribunali, with its fountains: the seventeenth-century one from Constantinople and the other one, Baroque as well, of Sant’Antonio Abate, which overlooks the Episcopal Palace. But the eighteenth-century Caracciolo's Palace occupies majestically an entire side of the square. It has been totally restored and is the current seat of the Province. Built between 1708 and 1713, two large lions watch over the entrance, near the columns supporting the scenic balcony in local stone. On the facade there is a sundial and an epigraph commemorating Garibaldi. The palace was built by Princess Antonia Spinola Colonna, Marino III Caracciolo’s wife, when the family dominating the city was convinced that the Castle, where they had lived for so long, was crumbling, such as to no longer be used as a residence let alone suitable for the Caracciolo’s position. For the new building, they chose an area outside the Largo. Therefore, the heart of Avellino moved from the medieval hamlet, which was until then the centre of the city, to the new part, which began to develop with the new palace, completed between 1720 and 1730, under the supervision of the engineer Filippo Buonocore, among the best in the kingdom. The palace had a magnificent garden, where in January 1735 Charles III of Bourbon stayed, passing through the city during his trip to the kingdom he had recently taken possession of. Avellino became the county seat of the Principato Ultra in 1806, two years later the Municipality bought the palace in order to allocate the Courts and other public offices. In 1839 another floor was added by the provincial administration, of which it has ben the seat since 1987, after the post-earthquake restoration.
From Piazza della Libertà, the Corso Vittorio Emanuele starts, the main road of the city. Along the street, the church of the Holy Rosary (chiesa del Santissimo Rosario) stands out with its Gothic facade. The sacred building was built in the sixteenth century at the behest of Countess Maria de Cardona on the ruins of a pre-existing hospital. To the munificence of the lady of Avellino was added the one of other nobles of the city, who contributed to the work designed by Father Federico da Montemurro. With three naves, of which the central one is finely frescoed, and with splendid marble altars, the church suffered a sudden collapse in 1726. It was demolished in the nineteenth century, but after a long debate its reconstruction was decided, which took place in 1933, in Gothic style. Inside, there is a beautiful Crucifix and on the altar the painting of the Madonna of Pompei.
In the immediate vicinity, few meters form the tribunal, there is the Bourbon prison, which houses the main museum complex of Avellino, with the Irpinia Museum of the Risorgimento, the provincial art gallery, the Lapidarium, some gardens, an auditorium and educational spaces. The Villa Comunale is in the same area, behind which another section of the Irpinia Museum is located.
From the Villa Comunale is it possible to reach the ancient village of Sant’Antonio Abate on the Fenestrelle river. There, you can see the Tecta fountain, from the 12th century, from which the inhabitants of the neighborhood and those who traveled the Strada Salernitana went to draw water. It is also known as Grimoaldo fountain from the name of the nobleman who took care of its embellishment. In the nineteenth century, the two wash houses which were created were used to wash the clothes of the neighborhood’s women.