It overlooks the Valle del Noce, nestled on the ridges of the hills Motta, Serra and Poggio, with a breathtaking view that opens up before the eyes of those who live there, those who live it occasionally and those who enter it for the first time. This is Rivello’s business card.
A municipality that captures hearts for the typical simplicity of a mountain village mixed with the infinite emotions triggered by the explosion of the nature colors in which it is immersed and the open spaces that surround it.
A real gem, characterized by huts leaning against each other as to form a single block.
Enchanting for tourists who usually end up associating that urban configuration to the shape of a sleeping horse or, again, to a person lying in bed with the head ‘depicted’ from the Church of St. Nicola, the knees slightly bent by the Church of Santa Barbara and, to represent the feet, we find instead the Church of S. Maria del Poggio, with the arms drawn by two full-bodied rows of houses that descend on the sides of the hill.
A show in the show. In this place the eyes are filled with beauty, of an unexpected beauty, disarming, intrusive, which emanates from the poor materials of a village that smells of old and that rises up as a work of art installed inside a container that does not have need of words; the container of the woods that color the mediterranean forms outline and that give to all that is inscribed a fairytale, magical, unique air.
They are enclosed in a Latin phrase printed on the city’s coat of arms, the origins of Rivello, Iterum Velia Renovata Rivellum or “Velia again rebuilt is Rivello”, which refers to the ancient city of Velia destroyed by the Saracens around the 8th century AD. So the refugees of this razed Tyrrhenian city took shelter on the Motta hill, and gave rise to the Revelia settlement which meant “Nuova Velia”.
A hypothesis that is corroborated by a paper document dating back to 1079, exactly a bull of Alfano I, Archbishop of Salerno. It was precisely on this summit that the Longobards built one of the largest strongholds of the Duchy of Benevento.
The lower part instead, the Poggio, was occupied by the Byzantines.
The two populations, despite the geographical proximity, never managed to find a balance for a peaceful cohabitation and this over time resulted in a deep divide between the two lineages, which later determined the definition of two distinct centers, each one with different tradition , uses and religious cults. A piece of history traceable and well kept in the 23 sacred places scattered in the town of Rivello.
After the split of the Duchy of Benevento, Rivello was merged with the Principate of Salerno.
Dominated by the Normans, by the Angevins and eventually by the Sanseverinos, it succeeded in obtaining its independence upon payment to the princes of Monteleone in 1576 and then it has been resold to Ravaschiero.
It was only in 1719 that the Rivellese community definitively conquered true freedom. An historical event that is remembered and replayed every year and which bears the words “Istitutalibertas”, faithful to the official bull.
ARTISTIC AND CULTURAL HERITAGE
The many churches that scatter the Rivellese territory reflect the cultural richness and variety of religious traditions that characterized the history of the town.
23 churches are in fact the fly-wheel of a religious faith that once lived in two different cults opposed to each other: one of Latin origin belonging to Velini and Longobards with the church of San Nicola as symbol of maximum expression, today guardian of the village; the other one of Greek origin, typical of the Byzantines, whose reference point was the church of Santa Maria del Poggio.
These are the two most important sacred building, full of charm for their experience and strategic as a position to the point that they still maintain the division between the two nuclei of the city.
But let’s take a look at them closely.
The church of San Nicola has a Baroque façade and three portals preceded by a steep staircase. Its interior, spacious and bright, boasts 18th-century altars and fine paintings such as Pentecoste by Francesco Oliva and the Adoration of the shepherds by Salvatore Ferrero, accompanied by numerous stucco ornaments. The ancient three-aisled crypt of the church is also fascinating.
In relation to Santa Maria del Poggio, it stands on the top of the Poggio hill as a fortress, with the apse overlooking the cliff and a structure of medieval origins. Over time it has undergone several processes that have raised and expanded during the eighteenth century, enriching it with Baroque forms. Inside it is possible to admire a 16th century baptismal font, a 17th-century polyptych and several 18th-century paintings such as the Deposition by Salvatore Ferrari and the Last Supper by Luca Giordano.
Next to the two main churches of the village stands another monument: the convent of S. Antonio, characterized by a large façade preceded by a 1514 Catalan-style portico, decorated with 17th-century frescoes by Pietrafesa and embellished by a beautiful wooden door dating back to the XVI century. The cloister of the convent was partially demolished and enlarged in the ’60s and revisited with new materials such as glass and iron, in contrast to the central and ancient completely stone-made well.
The Civic Museum, which occupies the first floor of the convent, is evocative and contains rather loquacious and clarifying archaeological material about the relations between Greeks and natives. Of particular value is a tomb dating back to the second half of the VI century BC and a piece of walls of classical age.
FOOD AND WINE
Even in Rivello, as in most of the municipalities of the Valley, the main dishes at the table are cold cuts, especially sausage, soppressata and ham, garnished by tasty grilled or sautéed vegetables, followed by the essential homemade pasta and seasoned with meat sauce.
The famous craft beer produced in Rivello, Bykes, is made with the waters of the Lucanian Appennine springs and shall not be missed.