In Roman times the
town of Scafati was part of the ager pompeianus, as is borne out by the
numerous sumptuous villas that have come to light and the
funerary monuments along the Roman road. This road went from Pompei
to Nocera and then, along the route of the main SS 18 road, across the
town and over the River Sarno by means of a bridge. Following the
disastrous eruption of 79 AD, which buried the whole area of Pompei, the
town grew up on the riverbank during the Middle Ages and took its name
from the ‘scafe’ (craft) used to cross the river.
It was made up of two nuclei: the centre that grew up around the bridge
guarded by a tower (of which only the foundations remain) and the hamlet
of S. Pietro, along the route into the Sarnese hinterland (Bagni, with its
sanctuary on the SS 18 linking Scafati to Angri and Nocera, was part of
Angri until 1926).
The visit begins
in the town centre comprising the area round the bridge over the river. In
piazza Vittorio Veneto stands the Church of
S. Maria delle Vergini with adjacent confraternity, the town’s
most important church, with some fine modern works of art.
Beyond the bridge stands the Municipio,
overlooking the river, with behind it the fine gardens of the Villa
Comunale, next to the FS railway station. From the Municipio you
can go down to the SS 18 to visit, about one kilometre down the road to
Angri and Nocera, in Bagni, the 18th century Sanctuary
of the Madonna di Bagni, site of pilgrimage and popular
Returning to the square take corso Nazionale, behind which is a quarter
overlooking the river and the town canals; in the Galleria Aurora in via
Leonardo da Vinci you can see Roman funerary
markers found here (further on there are remains of the 19th
century industrial zone).
The Corso goes on
to Pompei passing in front of the 19th century church of S. Francesco di
Paola and, further on, before the A3 motorway toll booth,
down via Vitiello you come to Villa
Nunziante, a 19th century building used for cultural activities
and, just beyond, the impressive Bourbon
powder mill, dating from the mid-19th century.
Once again setting out from the square, via Battisti will take you to the church
of S. Maria delle Grazie, standing on the road to the Vesuvian towns,
crossing the modern Via Martiri d’Ungheria with the station of
the Circumvesuviana railway; a little way further on, in a fenced-off
excavation site, stand the remains of a Roman funerary monument.
Going back to Battisti, take via Sauro as far as Palazzo
Sisto, housing the municipal library and art gallery, and then go
into the Vetrai quarter with its typical courtyards. Its rows of houses
lead to the hamlet of S. Pietro, a rural centre with the church of S.
Pietro dominating the main square. Further on, in via Lo Porto (the road
leading to San Marzano and Sarno along the river), you come to the remains
of the historical Badia della Real Valle,
a Gothic Cistercian monastery built at the behest of Charles I of Anjou in