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San Vittore del Lazio. A thousand-year history.

The Municipality of San Vittore del Lazio stands on a hill overlooking the last stretch of the Liri Valley at an altitude of 210 m a.s.l. and has about 2,700 inhabitants.

From a climatic point of view, San Vittore enjoys particular privilege. The climate is dry and rarely hot in the summer. In winter, very rigid temperatures are hard to reach and rainfall is rather limited. The only drawback, perhaps, is the very strong wind which in some periods of the year sweeps the whole territory from east to west with gusts of considerable intensity. However, it is one of the most characteristic phenomena of the area and, paradoxically, it preserves the territory from more extreme atmospheric phenomena. The town has always had an agro-pastoral vocation which has expressed itself with the production of a very good olive oil, wine and dairy products of excellent quality. Still today there are ancient oil mills and two very modern plants for the production of extra virgin olive oil. In the past it was a thriving center for the production of bricks and cast bronze. In this regard, it should be remembered that, even today, some descendants of the Marinelli family live in the municipality, one of whose branches was the architect of the creation of the very famous Pontifical Bell Foundry based in Agnone (IS).

With the Council Resolution of 11 October 1862, "del Lazio" was added to the traditional name of "San Vittore" to distinguish it from other homonymous towns in the Italian peninsula. Until 1927 it was part of the province of Caserta. From this date, following the reorganization of the Italian provinces wanted by the fascist government, it was incorporated into the newborn province of Frosinone. The last municipality in Lazio south of Rome, its territory is wedged between Campania and Molise, bordering the municipalities of Cassino, Cervaro and Viticuso as regards the Lazio side, Rocca d'Evandro, San Pietro Infine and Mignano Montelungo for the Campania side and Venafro and Conca Casale for the Molise side. This particular geographical location has always made it an important center of cultural and commercial exchanges, as well as making it a strategic point of extreme importance in the context of the numerous conflicts it has been the scene of, starting from the Middle Ages up to the two world wars, which has paid a considerable toll of blood and destruction.

Although there are evident traces of pre-Roman and Roman human settlements (which we will discuss in the section dedicated to the Samnite city of Aquilonia), as for almost all the towns of the Land of San Benedetto, the origins of the current town are to be placed on horseback. of the year one thousand, in the middle of the Middle Ages, when the fortification work commissioned by Abbot Aligerno of Montecassino (948? -985?), in addition to the administrative reorganization of the territory, favored the birth of fortified inhabited centers able to defend themselves from the greatest danger looming, the raids of the Saracens who terrorized much of southern Italy. In this process, a pre-existing agriculturally run “monastic cell”, dedicated to San Vittore, a Milanese martyr beheaded in the Lodi forest in 303, became one of the best equipped centers for the defense of the whole territory. According to some sources, the castle of San Vittore was well equipped, with about 23 quadrangular and semicircular towers, some of which are still visible today. Probably these estimates are exaggerated, but there is no doubt that the strategic position of San Vittore required a fairly powerful defensive system.

Although it is presumed to have belonged to the Land of San Benedetto since 744, by virtue of the donation of the territories from Sant'Andrea to San Pietro Infine made to the Monastery by the Duke of Benevento, the Lombard Gisulfo II, the castle of San Vittore is mentioned for the first time in 1045. In this year the Normans, expelled from San Germano (the present Cassino), barricaded themselves in the castles of Sant'Andrea and San Vittore. The castle was conquered after a few days by Abbot Richerio with the help of the Counts of the Marsi and other monasteries. In 1123 the castle of San Vittore allied itself with that of Sant’Angelo in Theodice against Montecassino, probably the object of the dispute was the payment of tithes, but the revolt was suppressed by Abbot Oderisio.

But probably, one of the most important years for San Vittore was 1139, during the conflict between Pope Innocent II and Roger II. The latter was none other than Roger II of Altavilla, Norman and founder of one of the most important kingdoms of the Middle Ages, that Kingdom of Sicily which for a very long time represented an unparalleled example of political-administrative modernity in the eyes of contemporaries. Ruggero was officially recognized as king of Sicily and duke of Puglia and Calabria starting from 1139 (perhaps in the castle of Mignano). But this came after a devastating conflict with Pope Innocent II which took place between the territories of San Germano and Galluccio, where the Pope fell victim to an ambush by the Normans. During the numerous battles the Benedictine monastery was plundered and some castles, including San Vittore were devastated and set on fire. It was a scar that probably took a long time to heal.

Other devastations occurred in 1199 by the German leader Markualdo, in 1382 by the troops of Louis II of Anjou and in 1421 by the lord of Capua Braccio da Montone.

The churches. An inestimable heritage.
The historical center
The myth of Aquilonia
San Vittore il Moro: the martyr who gives the town its name.
Ancient oil mills
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