Benevento is a beautiful city set in a verdant environment and surrounded by the Campanian Apennines, between the rivers Sabato and Calore.
According to some sources, the city was founded by the Greek Diomedes after the destruction of Troy. The first documented sources date from the fifth century BC, the period of the Samnite wars. The Samnite populations resisted for a long time against the Roman incursions, nonetheless they finally surrendered in 268 BC when the Romans founded their colonies.
However, the Romans recognized the magnitude of the inhabitants of that Maleventum that, renamed Beneventum was also gloriously represented onto a number of important Roman monuments as the Arch of Trajan and the Bridge Leproso.
During the Middle Ages, Benevento was first conquered by the Goths and then by the Byzantines. In 571 it was the turn of the Lombards who, led by Zottone, conquered the city once again.
The Lombard domination lasted for about five centuries, and in 1077 the city came under papal rule. The 1266 was the year of the battle between Manfred and Charles of Anjou which undertakes to return Benevento to the Church. In 1688 a violent earthquake destroyed half city, that was gradually brought back to the ancient splendour at the behest of Pope Benedict XIII. During the 16th century the city passed under the rule of Frederick IV of Bourbon, and later included into the Neapolitan Republic.
In 1806, the city's ruled by Napoleon, but in 1860 it was finally annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.
A curiosity: Benevento is also known as the "city of the witches" since when the Lombards arrived in town and introduced some customs, such as dancing around walnut trees, which frightened the Christians of Benevento. Benevento's patron is St Bartholomew, which is celebrated on August 24.
Benevento is a town rich in artistic and historical attractions. In the old town center you can visit the splendid Cathedral, built around the twelfth century, and unfortunately bombed in 1943. The façade is open by blind arches and balcony above, where there are Roman fragments, Lombard graves and various sculptures. Remarkable is the bell tower that dates back to 1279, while the interior comes with five aisles.
Do not miss a visit to the ruins of the Roman Theatre, commissioned by the Emperor Hadrian, now still well preserved and used for various theatrical performances. L 'Arc of Trajan was erected to celebrate the extension of the Via Appia from Benevento to Brindisi.
On the side facing the city are recounted scenes of good governance and works of peace. On the external front, there depictions of military scenes about the imperial policies in the provinces.
Do not miss the Church of St Sofia, once ancient Benedictine abbey founded by the Lombards, which has a solid structure and a 12th-century portal. Rocca dei Rettori's worth a visit: erected in 1321 at the behest of Pope Giovanni XXII. It's divided into three large floors that house the Museo del Sannio.
To complete the visit of Benevento Leproso recommend a walk to the bridges Leproso and Valentino located just outside the city. Also do not miss the Villa dei Papi, mansions built between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries and the baroque Church of San Bartolomeo.
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