Benvenuti / Welcome to
Atina and the Val di Comino
Belmonte Castello is perched on a rocky calcareous outcrop (380 metres) between Cassino and the Val di Comino.
This picturesque village appears to cling to and wind its way around the rock.
In 990 the territory was owned by the Prince of Capua and Benevento and then passed to the Counts of Marsi. It was a stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Rome. In 1140 it was conquered by the Norman troops. In 1270 it became the property of the Counts of Aquino.
Because of its strategic position the town was provided with strong fortifications in the form of a tall tower and a small fortress surrounded by strong protective walls, with three gates. This provided an ideal viewpoint from which to watch out for hostile troops or brigands approaching from Montecassino or Alvito.
Over the centuries the town’s ownership changed hands several times, to the Cantelomo’s, the Carafa’s, the Borgia’s until finally in 1851 it became free of feudal control.
In 1595 it was described as having “good land for livestock, for vines rather than grain, abundant in farms, meat of every kind, soft white wines. It has good air, is populated and surrounded by strong walls. The fortress rises in front of the tower’s door and has 9 rooms – one subterranean, four on the ground floor and four on the first floor.”
The village was first known as simply Belmonte, the name originating from the latin “Bellus Mons”. It was not until 1862 that it took on its present name of Belmonte Castello. Indeed, it was not considered to be a town in its own right, coming under the jurisdiction of Atina, until 1819 and then of Terrelle until 1851 when it was made a township in its own right.
The town suffered badly during the bombing of the Second World War, when the castle was completely destroyed. The town was renovated after the war however the population dropped rapidly as many of its inhabitants emigrated overseas. Many settled in America, Scotland and Ireland.
The inhabitants of Belmonte Castello are known as Belmontesi. Belmonte was once famed for its traditional textile handicrafts.
Near to the town in the Costa Campopiano district are the remains of a Roman aqueduct, probably constructed in the year 1 AD, .
There are numerous footpaths through the tranquil wooded slopes of Monte Cairo, where mushrooms and wild asparagus grow.
Near to Belmonte Castello a natural phenomenon has formed two gaping chasms in the limestone rocks, through which a cold current of air blows, caused by the flow of underground streams. The crater at Capodivalle is 130 metres deep and another at Vaccareccia is 110 metres deep.
Belmonte Castello’s places of Worship include:
The ancient Church of San Nicola di Bari. The interior is decorated with some notable Medieval frescoes depicting country scenes and saints. San Nicola is the patron saint of Belmonte Castello.
The Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo. Consecrated in 1449, this chapel was annexed to the Church of San Nicola.
There was also the Church of San Benedetto de Chio.
The remains of this can be found in the San Venditto district.
La Chiesa del Carmine: (16th century)
The Church of San Rocco
The Church of San Venditto
The Shrine of la Grotta dell'Arvize
Local Feasts and Celebrations include :
La Festa dell'Emigrante – 14 to 16 August
La Festa di San Rocco -
La Sagra della Pecora -
Festa dell’Assunta Sagra Gastronomica 10 September
A celebration of local typical foods such as tagliolini and fagioli, local products and cultural traditions
La Festa di San Nicola -
Common Surnames of Belmonte Castello :
CACCESE, CAIRA, CAVALIERE, CHIARO
DE ANGELIS, DE LUCA, DELLO IACONO, DI CICCO, DI DUCA, DI PONIO,
DI TOMMASO, DIAMANTI
FARGNONI, FORTUNA, FRAGNOLI, FRANCHI, FRANCHITTI
GALLO, GENTILE, GIANNADREA, GIANNITELLI, GROSSI
IANNARELLI , IANNETTA, JANNETTA
MANCINI, MANNA, MATTIA, MEDAGLI, MERLINO, MERUCCI, MIELE, MURRO
NOTARANGELO, PAGLIARI, PARDI, PELMI, POLLICELLA
REA, REALE, RENELLA, RICCARDI, RIZZA, RONCONE, ROSSI
SAVERI, SCOGNAMIGLIO, SERRA, SERVELLO, SOAVE
TEDESCO, VELARDI, VETTRAINO, VISOCCHI
Does anyone have any more names to add to this list ?
If you have family that originated from Belmonte Castello please feel free to Contact me.
I would love to hear from you. Perhaps you have some photos or family information to share and contribute to this site.
Interesting Links Relating to Bemonte Castello
Website, text, photos
© LM Shapcott 2009 -
Except where photos have been rightfully accredited to the photographer / owner
Photos marked ● are in the Public Domain
Last Update May 2016