Casalnuovo Monterotaro 


My grandmother, Maria Colavita, was born in Philadelphia but her parents (Michelarcangelo Colavita and Maria Giuseppa Cioccio) were born and married in the town of Casalnuovo Monterotaro.

...The first village was named Mons Rotarius and was situated at an altitude of 542 meters above sea level approximately five kilometers from the current location.

...Between the end of the Angiò dynasty and the rise of the Aragonese domination there was no relief from the feudal lifestyle; it seems, however, that at some time a migratory movement towards the valley began, with a hope of improving the poor conditions of the peasants. The greater part of these emigrating, probably around 1500 A.D., stopped near a knoll, later called "Cappella” and they constructed the first houses founding “Casilis Novus." 

Both of my paternal grandparents were Italian. My grandfather, Emilio Vizzaccaro, was born in Caira, a very small village near the town of Cassino and now in the province of Frosinone, Lazio. My grandmother, Maria Colavita, was born in Philadelphia but her parents (Michelarcangelo Colavita and Maria Giuseppa Cioccio) were born and married in the town of Casalnuovo Monterotaro. In fact, Maria's older brother Nicola was born in Italy before his parents emigrated. Maria and her two younger sisters, Edith and Rose, were all born in the United States.

Casalnuovo Monterotaro is located in the province of Foggia, which is in the region of Puglia. It is a small town with a long history. Unfortunately, there is little information about it on the Internet, especially in English. There is a great page about Casalnuovo Monterotaro at the Associazione Culturale Due Sicilie sezione Milano web site. Although it is in Italian I recommend a quick look because the pictures are quite good. Casalnuovo Monterotaro is most famous recently for its earthquakes including one in 2002 that damaged 80% of the homes there.

For those who do not read Italian, I have pasted below a short history I found on the town's website (linked above). Apologies to the Italian authors.





Casalnuovo Monterotaro was founded between the ninth and tenth century A.D. on the Monterotaro hill, but the precise date of founding is unknown. The first village was named Mons Rotarius and was situated at an altitude of 542 meters above sea level approximately five kilometers from the current location. The original name derives from the roundish shape of the mount, which still dominates the valley below.

A document at the Archives of State of Naples says that around the year 1250 one Riccardo from Malta was in possession of the fiefdom of Mons Rotarus. He lived in a castle at the top of the mount encircled by the houses of the community.

Between the end of the Angiò dynasty and the rise of the Aragonese domination there was no relief from the feudal lifestyle; it seems, however, that at some time a migratory movement towards the valley began, with a hope of improving the poor conditions of the peasants. The greater part of these emigrating, probably around 1500 A.D., stopped near a knoll, later called "Cappella” and they constructed the first houses founding “Casilis Novus." Already constructed at the site before 1500 was the church of Saint Maria della Rocca. Joining the first families that settled in this territory were several groups of Albanians joints from vicinity of Casalvecchio.

Around 1700 A.D. the village passed under the dominion of the princes of Bisignano and was called Casale Nuovo Monterotaro; the princes constructed a ducal palace and in the immediate vicinity dedicated the parochial church to the saints Peter and Nicholas

The territory remained the property of the princes of Bisignano until the Napoleonic age, when the modern village of Casalnuovo Monterotaro was born.

Actually, nothing remains of Monterotaro except a few ruins hiding in the undergrowth. In these you can see the remnants of a square tower which, at one time, was the bell tower of the main church. 

Posted: Sun - September 26, 2004 at 04:36 PM          


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