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  • Salvatore Fuda

Arena(Calabria) and its glorious past

Town located about 500 meters above sea level overlooking the Petriano river, perched on a hill, in a position that offers a truly breathtaking view at a glance. The origins of the town of Arena should be very ancient. It is thought that it was a municipium romanae and, at the time of the Punic wars, a military garrison with the name of Castrum Arenense. To confirm this hypothesis, however, certain references are lacking. It participated in the liberation of Otranto besieged by the Turks in 1480 and in the revolt of the barons in 1487. It was also the capital of a fiefdom so extensive that it deserved the name of "Arena State". The Conclubets (some sources spell this name differently) were the family that held the fiefdom for quite some time. This territory then passed, towards the end of the 1600s, to the Acquaviva di Aragona and later, after about twenty years, to the Caracciolo di Gioiosa. Due to lack of space, the houses have, over the centuries, been built in every possible point, with ingenuity, creating a unique and suggestive agglomeration made of winding streets and sudden stairways. Very characteristic is Via Giudecca in the lower part of the town where, it is thought, in the Middle Ages, at the behest of Frederick II, the Jews were placed, who brought the art of dyeing and tannery to Arena (it is not known how many Jews there were , according to some historians they must have been few). The various earthquakes that have occurred over the centuries have caused serious damage to the town, which nevertheless retains a high and indisputable charm.

Norman-Swabian Castle

The oldest building in the country. It was mostly rebuilt by the Conclubets (between the 14th and 15th centuries) and subsequently modified by the Dukes of Acquaviva (between the 16th and 18th centuries). The castle of Arena was built to defend Mileto halfway between Monteleone and Stilo, to defend the Berra pass, which, by opening a passage between the mountains of the southern Serre, connected the two seas. Destroyed by the earthquake in 1783, a part of the corner towers and the perimeter walls remain. The site looks like a beautiful panoramic point over the town and the surrounding valley. There is a stone road that goes up to the castle.

To Visit:

The ruins of the ancient and glorious Norman castle of the eleventh century, which are located on the highest point of the hill on which Arena stands; the Archive of the Caracciolo Marquises containing many ancient volumes on the history of the south and emigration; the ruins of the Norman aqueduct; the 18th century church of Maria Santissima delle Grazie; the church of Maria Santissima de latinis; the ancient church of the Madonna dell’Addolorata; the church of San Teodoro; the surprising stairways and winding streets of the quaint old town; the civic palace and many other noble palaces; the ruins of the old mills near the Petriano river; a private collection of eighteenth-century tapestries, paintings and furniture at Palazzo Cesarelli.

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