Benvenuti / Welcome to
Benvenuti / Welcome to
Lenola is a mountain community, nestling within the Aurunci and Ausoni Mountains at a height of 425 metres above sea level. It has splendid views overlooking the plain and lakes of Fondi, and the Sperlonga coastline. On a clear day you can even catch a glimpse of the Pontine Islands. Meanwhile, looking inland there are verdant vistas of wooded hills, mountains and fertile valleys.
Near to Lenola, on Monte Passignano, the remains of an ancient fortified village has been discovered. Such ancient settlements are known as Castelliere. Their origins can be traced right way back to the Iron and Bronze ages. Typically these communities were built on the top of mountains, at strategic points with commanding views of the local mountain peaks, valleys and trade routes. The example unearthed in Lenola is circular in shape and was protected by strong embankments and a double ditch. Inside there would have been wooden huts and large pens for keeping animals. These settlements disappeared when the Romans took over in this territory. In 319 BC Lenola was recorded as being a Roman colony of the Aemilia people.
Ambrifi was first documented in approximately 1072 / 1073 in the Will of Littefredo, the Norman Duke of Fondi. Littefredo had no heirs so he donated a third of his Duchy to the Abbey of Montecassino. Ownership later passed to various feudal lords of Fondi. The fortified town, protected by an elliptical boundary wall, had a castle and nearby a church, la Chiesa della Madonna de Ambrise. However Ambrifi was abandoned towards the end of the 15th century, possibly partly due to an outbreak of the plague. The ruins of the town can still been seen today. Near to this site is a wood of chestnut trees.
In 217 BC during the Punic Wars Hannibal, the Carthaginian military commander, marched his troops towards Rome. Having already experienced a challenging encounter with the Romans at Fondi, Hannibal decided to divert from the normal direct route to Rome, which was along the Via Appia, and instead lead his men inland through the Aurunci and Ausoni mountains. The valley known as “Vannibale”, situated near to Lenola, takes its name from this historic event.
3 kms to the north of Lenola can be found the remains of an ancient fortification known as Ambrifi. The Castrum Ambrifi, built on a hill at a height of 639 metres above sea level on the remains of a Roman settlement. Its purpose was to guard important routes of communication between the territories of Fondi and the Liri valley.
Lenola was governed by by the Dukes of Fondi until over the years ownership was passed to the Dell’Aquila, and then to the Caetani and Colonna families.
In 1534 the beautiful Giulia Gonzaga, Countess of Fondi and widow of Vespasiano Colonna,
is said to have taken refuge in Lenola, from the notorious Saracen pirate Kair-
A second settlement was established, once again on high territory, to defend against Saracen invasions. This township or Borgo of Lenola is now referred to as “Terra Vecchia”. At its highest point a castle was constructed, with a tall tower which had commanding views of the surrounding territory.
The town was guarded by strong fortified walls, into which were incorporated several towers and four gates, namely Porta della Annuntiata, Porta del Colle, Porta delli Franconi and Porta dell’ Orto delle Morti”.
In the historic Medieval centre you can still see the many narrow passageways, arches and flights of steps that wind their way through the ancient clusters of houses.
Over the years the castle became transformed into a Baronial Palace. Today it is a private residence.
Close to the castle a church was constructed in the 13th century on the ruins of a pagan temple. It is dedicated to San Giovanni Evangelista and houses a 15th century fresco depicting the enthroned Madonna and Child and a flower, flanked by San Rocco and Sant’Andrea.
As you descend from the highest point of the village you will pass the sole remaining tower of the Medieval town’s perimeter wall. This has been incorporated into the modern town hall.
Website, text, photos
© LM Shapcott 2009 -
Except where photos have been rightfully accredited to the photographer / owner
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