Genzano history 21
This is the first church of Genzano
the castle of Monteserico
This hub is being written for the people that come from Genzano di Lucania most of all, since for these people it is easy to visualise and remember what we are going to talk about in this article, I know this because I have come from this town myself and today I would like to say a few things about my native town. What I am going to write here is not an exact history article, because I am going to write this article just the way I know it.
One of the first things that come to my mind, while I am writing this article is my teacher, because when I was at school in Genzano di Lucania, my teacher (Ettore Lorito) who was also a writer was writing a book about Genzano di Lucania, So, I wish I had this book with me now, so that I could find many more things to say about Genzano, but this book is very hard to find these days, so I have to say only those things that I remember and know.
So, let us begin; how Genzano came into existence is not exactly known today; there are a few very ancient stories that go around, but they may just be myths, one of these stories tells us that there was a youth called Yens, he was an excellent flute player, he fell in love with a princes called San who also fell in love with him; because they loved each other one day this princess San ran away from home with the help of Yens and she joined Yens and Yens family from there on; they lived in the caves in the chasm below the future Genzano of today.
Knowing that this girl was a real princess, Yens and his family decided to give her a better place to live in, so they started to build something fit for a princess on the hill above the caves. This is how Genzano started the very first time and the name of Genzano is the name of the two lover put together (Yens-San) I know this might be just another folklore story, but that is how I know it. We believe that we have mentioned this in another hub in a more detailed way and this is the link: The heritage chapter
Of course there are other stories as well and some of them we will tell you as we keep writing about the story of Genzano, the other stories that will be left behind do not matter, because we don’t see why we need to tell them all, since the one we have told seems most fitting for our story. Anyhow let us continue to tell more stories, where some written evidence has been found about Genzano history.
Some Genzano written history
Apart what we have said above, let us see what other sources say about Genzano history:
Now, there is no certainty about the following, because as we all know the origins of places and things sometimes are very hard to know with certainty, but what follow here is a very compact history of Genzano di Lucania. So, let us write this compact version down:
Some historian says that perhaps were the Romans that started Genzano town about the VI centure BC when they had this ‘Pagus Gentianum settlement to control this part of their territories. There are a lot of things left unsaid here, but we want to keep this compact and jump several centuries. Next most important historic event is the Normans in Italy, this part of Italy was under the Normans control for a while and they ran most of their conquest from the castle of Monteserico, one of the names of these Normans leaders was Roberto il Guiscardo; Anyhow after the Normans this part of the country passed several other owners, as it was used in the old system of feudality; this lasted until the year 1806 when the king of Naples Giuseppe Banaparte, abrogated feudality; so today everything is under modern current system. This is just a very short history of Genzano di Lucania.
Now let us start to tell other stories in between what we have not said above. Another one of the earliest and first written stories about Genzano, goes back to Roman times again, or about when the Roman Empire started to crumble, see the report below that I have found on the Internet, where it states when the Western Roman Empire collapsed.
The Western Roman Empirecollapsed in 476 as Romulus Augustus was forced to abdicate to the Germanic warlord Odoacer.
But even before the Roman Empire collapsed there is an event somewhere in the Roman history where they talk about a Genzano town, whether that Genzano is Genzano di Lucania or Genzano di Roma as we know them today is not clear, but anyhow there was a Genzano town during the Roman Empire, since I am talking about Genzano di Lucania, let us assume that it could well be Genzano di Lucania.
There is also another comment that I have written already somewhere about two martyrs that were definitely in Genzano the Lucania, and this is what I said: let us talk for a moment about more recent history that a recent write has discovered in the archive of Potenza; one of the first times that Genzano is mentioned in the archives is that of two brothers Secondo and Donato who were Christian martyr in the year 258 AD, as they were beheaded in Genzano ordered from council Valeriano, which I guess was a Roman council for that part of Italy, this event has also been mentioned in our hub called, The heritage chapter the link is within these article. This seems to be the oldest written record found about Genzano history and not much else; now, let us go back to talk about Genzano of today.
Apart the fact that these hubs are being written for Hub Pages readers, we hope also that our countrymen Genzanesi will come across these hubs about Genzano town and follow us and our articles and also write a few comments if they feel like writing anything.
There is a lot more that could be said, for a start beside here there are a couple of photos about Genzano the way we remember and it is today, but there is more that could be said, therefore we invite you to continue reading and if you would like to know more about Genzano di Lucania, click on the link below.
Here we need to say that there are many stories and legends about this town of Genzano; it is just like many other ancient towns, some of these stories are written here-under.
As we all know most if not all places in the world have a protector or patron, it is our human way of doing these things, of course there is a story about this protector and most likely it explains the reason why this person or Saint is the protector of the place.
Now that we have explained that, let us tell you about Genzano di Lucania protector; this is a very old story about Genzano; and it may well be after the time when the Roman Empire collapsed: And this story that we are telling you here is about St. Antonio Abate who is still nowadays the patron saint of Genzano, this story goes back to the fifth century AD or there about, a sort of Genzano town already existed then, as we have proof in the archive of Potenza that two martyrs were executed in Genzano in the year 258 AD.
Anyhow, there was a war going on at that time when this happened: The town of Genzano made resistance to the enemy aggression and its demands, so it was put under siege. The enemy was furious and was going to destroy Genzano; so they set their war machines ready for tomorrow to begin the assault of Genzano and destroy it. The town of Genzano was in grave danger, but that night the weather rained, snowed and became bitterly cold, it was so cold that froze everything stiff, so cold and frozen were the war machines that they could not be used or even moved, and the weather was cold for a very long time afterward, until the enemy became tired and left; and that’s how Genzano was saved from destruction. The day that this event happened was on the 17th day of January, which is the day of St. Antonio Abate according to the Roman Catholic calendar. See what I found on the Internet about this great saint:
Anthony the Great or Antony the Great (c. 251–356), (CopticⲀⲃⲃⲁⲀⲛⲧⲱⲛⲓ), also known as Saint Anthony, Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of Egypt,Anthony of the Desert,Anthony the Anchorite, Abba Antonius (Ἀββᾶς Ἀντώνιος), andFather of All Monks, was a Christiansaint from Egypt, a prominent leader among the Desert Fathers. He is celebrated in many churches on his feast days: 30 January in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church; 17 January in the Roman Catholic Church and the Coptic Catholic Church.
The biography of Anthony's life by Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread the concept of monasticism, particularly in Western Europe through Latin translations. He is often erroneously considered the first monk, but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, however, the first known ascetic going into the wilderness, a geographical shift that seems to have contributed to his renown.
Anthony is appealed to against infectious diseases, particularly skin diseases. "Saint Anthony's fire" has described different afflictions including ergotism,erysipelas and shingles.
End of Internet report about Saint Anthony.
Now that we have explained who was this great Saint Anthony, let us tell you how the story goes: The folks of Genzano believe that this incredible happening of cold weather was due to divine intervention through St. Antonio Abate: And this is the reason why St. Antonio Abate was made Patron Saint and protector of Genzano; this belief about Saint Anthony has lasted to the present time, and here we have to add that even today when there is a problem in this town, let us say it has not rained for a long time, so rain is needed for the fields to grow, the priest and the people soon take Sant’Antonio out in a procession through the town and into the country, in the hope that Sant’Antonio will help to make it rain. This is how the people of Genzano venerate this great Saint Anthony.
Now let us go back to Genzano history, for a very long time after this happening above and during the Dark Ages; (Here we have reason to believe that the Dark Ages are called dark ages just because there is no much written history about them) there doesn’t seem to be any real history written about Genzano town also, and therefore nobody seems to know what has happened during that period of time. History seems to slowly restart at the beginning of the second millennium, see our next story. The Normans in Italy
Let us explain first that what we are writing here is also a personal story, this story somehow bridges history itself and explains things that most of us did not know before, and so, let me tell you my personal story first:
Since I came to Australia I have worked in the building industry where I met this Frenchmen called Luis, we worked with the same firm for a few years and most times I and Luis worked together, so we knew each other well. Luis came to Australia when France left Algeria and the army of Algeria was dismantled so to speak, Luis was a captain in the army, so he had learned about many army things including army history. Anyhow let me come to the point of why Luis knowledge is important here.
One day I was looking on the TV at the Tour of France, this stage was run in Normandy, so while I was looking at the country side I saw this castle in the background, which I could have sworn that it was exactly the same as the castle that I had been seeing thousands of times from my farm in southern Italy. So next time when I met Luis I asked him about it and surprise, surprise no sooner I mentioned the castle of Monteserico that he knew all about it, so he explained to me.
The Normans have only built two castles one in France and another in southern Italy, and from this castle of Monteserico they would dominate all their conquests of southern Italy. So here is the proof that Luis gave me, which is that the castle of Monteserico has been built from the Normans; but I was wandering whether it could be true.
Now we have to say that even with this Frenchman called Luis explanation about the castle of Monteserico, we are not sure if he was right to assume that the Normans built this castle, Luis story only shows us that this castle of Monteserico has been used from the Normans, because there are other stories about its origin; in fact there is even a story that this castle could have been built from a Roman family to run the surrounding countryside, or it might have been built as a monastery in the beginning of the Christian Era, and then went through several changes and owners that used it in different ways. It was built above caves where indigenous people used to live a very long time ago.
Anyhow the fact remains that the Norman really had possessed the castle of Monteserico, because history shows us that in the X or XI century there indeed was a great battle around this castle won by the Norman, and therefore the Normans used this castle to dominate their conquests in southern Italy.
To see more click on links below;
Here we could also add this link, in this link there is a lot more said about this castle of Monteserico and about Genzano history, it is a site created years ago from this Architect of Genzano, C. Pietrapertosa, (it is written in Italian)
Now let us go back to talk about the modern Genzano; or should we say the Era when they started to build, or perhaps rebuilt the modern Genzano as it exists today, we guess that it could have been the twelfth or the thirteen century, and this is what was happening then in the new would be Genzano: You see in this castle of Monteserico that the Norman had used as we have written above, which is about fifteen kilometres away from Genzano and situated East-South-East of Genzano. This is an old castle built or perhaps modified from the Norman’s or somebody else during or after the fall of the Roman Empire when they overrun Italy; it is said that a long time ago there was a small town around the castle, but today there is no real evidence of it and no real history when it cessed to exist. All we know is that today no other building has been built near this castle except a small chapel. Anyhow when the Norman domination came to an end, after many battles and other things; it happens that sometime later on, it was owned from other important people and one day there was this Spanish Princes called Aquilina Sancia, who later on would become the new founder of Genzano town, and even today the people of Genzano feel grateful towards her.
Aquilina Sancia queen of Monteserico
This is how the modern Genzano came into being;
The story and folklore of Genzano says that it was Aquilina Sancia, who happened to own the castle of Monteserico at the time when Genzano needed help to restart again, we say restart again because there wasn’t a real Genzano town when this happened; so, this princess in the very early 14 century she helped the town restart. Aquilina Sancia some people say is a Spanish Princes, other people say that this Aquilina Sancia had to do something with the Sforza family and she was a queen. But, anyhow this castle of Monteserico that we have been talking about above, at that time happened to be owned by this rich and powerful family and queen named ‘Aquilina Sancia’ who most likely used this castle as a resort only; because today this castle is only a small square building, it is a solid coarse fortress built on a treeless roundish hill with extensive views of the countryside,
Which at that time were mostly grazing lands, with sheep shepherds and some other livestock, and perhaps some wheat farming in a small way? So it would have been ideal for a queen to get away from it all, and still feel safe in that small fortress. (Nowadays that grazing land which is several thousand of Hectares is top arable land, used mainly to grow durum wheat, and is one of the best lands for this purpose.)
Anyhow, this Aquilina Sancia Queen of Monteserico, while she was living in this castle, she liked very much to travel in her stagecoach or on horseback between Monteserico castle and then would be new Genzano of those times, Genzano was then only a small town but she liked it, so she helped it to become it a real town. The folklore story goes that she used a secret tunnel, or a secret way between these two places, as no one could understand how she could manage to travel without being seen, because, while she was thought to be in Monteserico castle, suddenly she would appear in Genzano without seeing her coming or going. She must have been very rich because it is said that, she hid a treasure that to these days has not been found, and the most valuable items consist of a ‘Gold Mother Hen with Chicks’ which has been hidden somewhere in Monte-Serico castle or in the secret tunnels or there about.
To me all those hidden riches and the large secret tunnel that she could run in with her stagecoach is all folklore fantasy. But perhaps there was a small tunnel in Monteserico castle and also one in Genzano small castle that she turned into a monastery, this could allow her to come and go without being seen. In theory it could have been possible that she could drive her stagecoach in one of the caves in the chasm bellow the monastery, and from there through a supposed small tunnel find the way into the monastery above. Therefore, there may be some truth about the tunnel story, even if the rest is all folklore fantasy.
How the modern Genzano came into being
Because this queen liked Genzano, she built a monastery where the old first building was, and because of this monastery the people in the country started moving back in the new town of Genzano, this is how the modern town of Genzano was found and she was loved from building this monastery. It is said that in her old age she moved in this monastery and died there. She wrote her will in the year 1327 before she passed away.
But let us tell the story; we could only imagine that the people of those times had an exaggerated benevolent fantasy for this Queen, because of the good turn she gave to the folks of the new Genzano of those days; since one can say that she was the real founder of the new Genzano, because she financially built the first monastery and a church in Genzano called ‘L’Annunziata’ together with a rich monastery for the order of ‘The Sacred Nuns’ which has lasted up to 1905 the early part of the twentieth century. (Nowadays the church and the monastery have been restored for heritage values) But as it happened in those times, the building of the church and the monastery brought a change of life to those people that were still living in the caves of the chasm and in the fields, because; after that church building they really started to build more houses nearby their church and monastery, and slowly Genzano became a real town.
The reason why most of them left the caves and came to live into town is not clear, the reasons that they left the houses in the fields it was because there was malaria associated with this sort of living. Of course there are other reasons to leave the caves, and it could have been for reasons of safety, or perhaps they had become too many and so had overgrown the caves.
But in moving to town they set a new way of life that would split the community in two, because some of the man folks had to stay put in the chasms and in the fields to look after their flocks, and whatever else they had to do in order to earn a living, either in the caves or in the working fields; while the rest of the community would live in town. So from that time onward there were town’s people and country people belonging to the same town, which is a typical way of life of the rural towns of Southern Italy. Of this typical way of life I intend to talk about in more details, as it has affected my own way of life adversely during my younger days.
But now let me go back to the main story: After most of the cave people moved to live into town, the caves became partly empty. But by now the inhabitant of the caves new that those caves, which in the beginning had been excavated for survival could still be put to good use, because they would be ideal to make wine in them, since they have a constant cool temperature throughout the year, therefore the wine would keep well for a long time, and since then they have made their wines in those caves. Looking at the caves when I was young, the front of the caves have been closed in with a masonry wall, which has a door opening in the centre with a segmental arch above. The doors openings are fitted with a double hung oaken timber doors, which are very solid, even though they have air vent panels built in them, in order to have some ventilation in the cave as there is no other opening in the cave.
Now as I was saying before, that you would be amazed to see when they make their wines, and indeed it is an interesting thing to see, if you happen to be there at the time when they harvest their grapes and they make their wines, as the whole place, which is only a chasm with so many caves, but at that time the chasm becomes alive in its own archaic ways, see our article, Wine making the old ways I think we have said enough in this hub, so I say see you in our next article.