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Translated Jeff Matthews

The story of Nola, an ancient city on the southern Campanian plain, is tightly bound up with the history of the fortified castle (castrum) on a low hill that overlooks the city from the east: the Cicala castle (pictured). This fortification is first mentioned in a document from the 10th century currently held at the Abbey of Monte Vergine; the fort was certainly built to protect the nearby settlement of Cicala, founded between the 5th and 8th century after Nola, itself, was abandoned due to poor sanitary conditions as well as for military reasons (the plain, itself was difficult to defend.

The Cicala fort was damaged a number of times by eruptions of Mt. Vesuvius (the worst ones for the citizens of Nola were those of 993, 1036, and 1139). As well, the fort changed hands a few times during that period, passing from the Longobards to the Byzantines to the Normans, and then, in the 13th century, becoming part of the feudal fief of Frederick II. The manor was later contested by a string of feudal lords; among the best-known were Guidone de Vito, Girardo de Villario, Simon de la Forest and various members of the Orsini family. In 1632 the castle was once again badly damaged by yet another eruption of Vesuvius. In 1725 the manor became the property of Ruffo di Bagnara, founder of the Castelcicala family.

The entire history of this area is enriched by...

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