World War II and earthquakes. 3/13/18

Recorded history stretches back a long way in these parts. To day we visit Avellino and Benevento on our way to southeast Italy.

Yesterday Yuri extolled the virtues of Avellino wine. The grapes are grown on the western slope of Mt. Vesuvius and that terroir gives the white wines a particular taste. We figure we will stop and pick up a bottle of their wine while in Avellino and visit the cathedral.

Driving and parking our giant, flashy Alfa Romeo is not an easy task in these ancient streets. John does a great job but we are discussing trying to ditch this car and get a smaller, more workman like car when we get to Bari. We do reach the Avellino Cathedral and find a parking space. The front door is open but the inner door is locked. We cannot get in. This is frustrating!

Avellino Cathedral photo from Wikipedia

This Romanesque Cathedral builtin the 12th century has been mightily changed by being bombed in World War II and by the 6.9 magnitude Irpinia earthquake of 1980. Still we had hope to see some vestige of its former self. On the bronze front doors are panels of planes flying overhead and the destruction of the earthquake. I cannot believe that I neglected to take a picture!

Anyway, since we cannot imagine finding another parking space to buy a bottle of wine, we decide to push on to Benevento where we will spend the night. Benevento is a very old place. Inhabited before the Romans, it gained new importance when two arms of the Via Appia intersected here. The road ran through the Trajan Arch which is still in good shape.

View towards the Trajan Arch in Beneveto
2nd century Trajan Arch

Further exploration will have to wait, though, it’s time for lunch! We stop at the bistro Dionisio and have an interesting lunch.

Sarah’s lunch – porchetta panino
John’s lunch – antipasti from the sea
Mary’s lunch – antipasti from the land

Thus fortified we go take a look at Santa Sofia, a UNESCO world heritage site, a part of Longobards in Italy, Places of Power 568-774 AD. We saw several of this group last year in northern Italy.

The structure built in 760 has an unusual hexagonal star shaped interior. It has been renovated several times,however, in1957 most of the original appearance was restored, based on evidence from historical documentation. Unfortunately most of the frescoes have been lost with only a few fragments left.

Annunciation and Visitation

The other two fragments have to do with the life of Zacharias.

Outside over the door is a bas-relief which is very Lombard looking from the 13th century and depicts Christ enthroned between the Virgin, St. Marcurius and Gregory the Abbot.

Longobard Bas-relief over entrance to St. Sofia, Benevento, Italy
Mary and John in front of St. Sofia

We return to the hotel for a little siesta. Later John and Sarah go out while I try to finish yesterday’s post. They visit the Benevento cathedral dedicated to St. Bartholomew and established in the 8th century.

Statue of St. Bartholomew holding the knife he was flayed with

But nothing lasts forever even if it survives earthquakes. Below is an archival picture of Benevento Cathedral after an Allied bombing in 1943. So nothing much is left of the original church.

Benevento Cathedral after Allied bombing

Later we return to Dionisio’s restaurant (rather than bistro) for dinner. It turns out to be a rather fancy place where you might get a chef’s menu. Really, all we wanted was a bowl of pasta but we do not have the nerve to leave and so have a much longer, fancier meal than we had anticipated.

Mary antipasto – a tart with chestnut cream, squash, apples, Camembert, and crispy pancetta
Mary main course – fusilli with tomato sauce, caciocavallo, and grated hazelnuts
Sarah’s starter – large spaghetti with hazelnut cream, concentrated San Marzano tomato sauce and eel foam
Sarah’s main – quail with fried accompaniments and egg
John’s antipasto – carpaccio of lamb with fried artichokes and herb cream
John’s main – tortellini stuffed with foie gras and broccoli

Oh, and also a bottle Fiano from Avellino!

5 thoughts on “World War II and earthquakes. 3/13/18

  1. I love the fact that you left Avellino because you didn’t think you’d find another parking space!! Modern problems collide with antiquity!!

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    1. The car that we ended up getting from the rental agency is not one that we can easily squeeze into a parking space. Both Sarah and I have been in a panic over it since we picked it up. It is also the kind of car that screams, “steal me!” Tomorrow we are going to the airport here in Bari and see if we can get something smaller and less obtrusive.

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