Index THE ITINERARY OF SARNO COMMUNE


 The town of Sarno, the largest municipality in the area, is situated at the foot of Monte Saro, a spur of Pizzo d’Alvano, part of the sub-Appennine ridge in Campania. There are traces of human settlement from prehistoric times, in the Bronze and Iron Ages, remains of an Italic sanctuary from the hellenistic period and a number of villas and other sites dating from Roman times. The town itself began to form in the early Middle Ages, in association with the castle on the slopes of the Saretto, and with other nuclei at Foce, Episcopio and S. Vito. In the course of time it incorporated other appendages, expanding the historical centre with its typical spindle shape straddling the ancient Roman road Via Popilia (known to locals as the Tabellara), which ran from Capua to Nocera and on to Reggio di Calabria.


 The visit begins from the modern day town centre, in Via del Rettifilo (Corso Amendola), near the station of the Circumvesuviana railway. At the top of the Corso, at the junction with what is now the high street (the elongated via Matteotti), which runs parallel to the historical centre and includes the public gardens, stands the Municipio (Town Hall), a 19th century building in the eclectic style next to the site of a Franciscan monastery of which only the Cloisters and Church of S. Francesco remain; this large building dominates the town and overlooks the square with a monument to M. Abignente by Amendola. From the Municipio, walk to the left across vie Fabricatore and Laudisio, with numerous residences of the nobility from modern times and associated chapels as well as elongated courtyards round which the lower classes lived. 

 
This brings you to corso Umberto and the Villa comunale, 19th century public gardens featuring mineral springs. From here you can go on up to the wooded zone of S. Vito, with the medieval church of S. Vito and 19th century country villas. In the hamlet of Lavorate, with its typical farmsteads and courtyards and the 19th century parish church of S. Maria delle Grazie (now abandoned), you come across the springs of S. Marina; the road continues to Nocera Inferiore.
Retracing your steps to corso Umberto, you find yourself in piazza Croce, at the start of via Lanzara, featuring the impressive Villa Del Balzo, with an ample garden. Go up via Cavour to Palazzo Capua (designated for the future Town Museum) and the adjacent piazza Capua, with the Congrega of the Immacolata and sanctuary of the Madonna delle Tre Corone standing opposite each other. From here you can go up via S. Martino towards Monte Saro and continue towards the Municipio and Terravecchia along via Mazzini.
From the Municipio go left down via de’ Liguori, also lined with residences and with sideroads leading down into the Terravecchia quarter. You come to piazza Garibaldi, the ancient market, with around it the Palace of the feudal lord, the fountain dei tre cannuoli linked up to the nearby springs of rivo Palazzo and the entrance to the D’Andrea mills. Beyond this, along corso Vittorio Emanuele, there is the 19th century industrial zone with the former Sugar works (on via Roma) and Buchy mills, stretching down to the FS railway station, the bottom end of the town on the road leading to Striano and other Vesuvian towns.
From Piazza Garibaldi you can go up the rampe Terravecchia to the Terravecchia quarter built over the medieval walls inside the circuit of walls linked to the castle above (reached from the nearby via S. Giovanni). Here there are the remains of the Convent of S. Domenico and Church of S. Matteo, in picturesque locations on the hillside, like most of the houses in this quarter.Once back in piazza Mercato, you go along via Abignente, the main thoroughfare of the quarter del Borgo, coming to the churches of S. Andrea, S. Giacomo (chapel of palazzo Abignente, on the corner of via S. Giovanni) and S. Teodoro, opposite the façade of the 16th century Seminario (completely restructured).
At the end of this street, the road goes on to Nola following the ancient Via Popilia; if you turn back up viale Margherita you get to the hamlet of Episcopio. Its main street, via Duomo, features several 18th century residences, culminating in piazza del Duomo with the former Cathedral of S. Michele, an outstanding 17th century building, behind which stands the palazzo vescovile and, set back to the left, the Congrega of the Ss. Sacramento.
From piazza Duomo go down via Milone, alongside the zones of Curti and Figura, and then along via Tuostolo to the hamlet of Foce. Here there are the remains of the Hellenistic-Roman Theatre, itself built over an Italic sanctuary, and a little further down the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Foce, a 17th century church with medieval frescoes, built near the main source of the River Sarno.