What we know today as Nocera Inferiore was part of a conurbation called
Nocera de’ Pagani that developed in medieval and early modern times;
this in turn was the successor to the Italic and Roman town of Nuceria
Alfaterna. The town, most of which was built during the 20th
century, originally comprised a number of hamlets, the most important
being Borgo, round the foot of Park Hill, S. Matteo, along the ancient
road leading from Nocera to Pompei (now Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the high
street of the 19th century town, where remains of a Roman road
and temple have come to light) and Vescovado, with the bishop’s palace,
at the foot of Monte Albino. The visit begins at the railway station, adjacent to the district of S.
Matteo, in piazza Trieste e Trento.
Stretching away behind it is the impressive complex of the 19th century
mills (now MCM), situated along via Napoli (with the firm’s headquarters
in the form of a Swiss chalet). The 19th century via Nicotera
brings you to Corso Vittorio Emanuele, in the heart of the densely
populated quarter of Capocasale. Turning right, you come to the 19th
century hospital and 18th century Convent
of S. Chiara on the Pagani road. Once on the main SS 18 road you
arrive, near the hospital of villa Chiarugi, at the Church
of S. Angelo, partially carved out of the hillside in medieval
times. From the church, via S. Angelo brings you back to the Corso; a
little further on in a side street, via Giovanni XXIII, you come to the 17th
century Church of S. Matteo.
Going on down the Corso you arrive at the Municipio (Town Hall) beyond the
modern corso Garibaldi, which leads to the A3 motorway toll booth and
piazza Guerritore, dominated by Villa
Guerritore Broya, a Neomedieval building put up in the 20th
century.From the Town Hall it is a short walk to the Liceo
Vico, on a square with modern buildings; behind it there is an
interesting villa in the eclectic style of the early 20th
century.Crossing the modern vie Matteotti and Fucilari (look out for the
recent Galleria Maiorino, a fine work by the architect Pagliara), you are
once more on the SS 18, taking you to the Sanctuary
of Montealbino, venerated by the inhabitants of Nocera, on the
side of the mountain, and the Vescovado quarter, where there is the Cathedral
(with the adjacent Confraternity of the Rosary), with its 18th
century bell-tower, fine palaces of the nobility and the 18th
century building of the Seminario.
You now cross the SS 18 to go through modern districts (which include the
ancient settlement of Casolla, with the Church
of S. Maria a Monte) bringing you to piazza De Santis and the
hamlet of Piedimonte, where, on the road leading to Castel S. Giorgio, you
come to the 18th century Church
of S. Bartolomeo, once a monastery of the Olivetan order,
containing some outstanding works of art, and further on the 19th
century building of the Manicomio (Asylum), now the headquarters of the
Procura della Repubblica. A side road leads to the impressive medieval
castle, turned into a residence with adjacent park during the 19th
century and used nowadays for cultural events. Returning to piazza De
Santis, you take the straight road leading to the quarter of Borgo, where
in piazza Zanardelli, the main square, there is the church of Corpo di
Cristo and further on the Monastery of S.
Antonio, an important medieval-Renaissance complex with a church
and cloisters, which is the headquarters of the Provincial Museum of the
Agro Nocerino (with finds ranging from prehistorical to Roman times from
the plain) and the Art Gallery of S. Antonio, with some fine Renaissance
paintings. From the square in front of the monastery you take via S.
Andrea towards the panoramic monastery of the Cappuccini and the Church
of S. Andrea, set beneath the castle.
From piazza Zanardelli you go along via Solimena, the main thoroughfare in
the Borgo, dominated by the 18th century Caserma
Tofano, once the palace of the Carafa, the local feudal lord.
Opposite the public park there used
to be the gardens of the palace, stretching up the hillside to the castle.
Further on, amidst palaces and courtyards dating form the 17th
– 19th centuries, there is the complex
of S. Giovanni in Parco, with its church (of which only the apse
remains) and, above it, the extensive convent building. On reaching Largo S. Biagio,
you take via S. Anna towards Sarno and come to another monastic complex,
also located on the slopes below Park Hill overlooking the plain, the Convent
of S. Anna, with some fine works of art from medieval and modern
times. Further on slargo di S. Mauro (where there was once a spring of the
River Sarno and you can see a large 17th century tuff gateway)
leads to the hamlet of Cicalesi, with the church of S. Giovanni Battista,
and, along the ancient road to Sarno that hugs the hillside leading to
Lavorate, Fiano, where there is the farmstead and church of S. Anna and,
on the hillside, the ancient quarries of Nocera tuff, with signs of
quarrying still visible in the rockface.