From Jesse's Journeys in Italy
Rivello is located in a splendidly scenic
position on the ridge of a hill that
overlooks the whole Noce Valley and
Mount Sirino. The urban
structure of the
town is equally
picturesque with the chuch of San Nicola dei Greci dominating the western
height of the town.
has an unusual history:
born from a Basilian monk's laura and
therefore a place of prayer and worship,
it became a place disputed for centuries
by Lombards and Byzantines because of its
strategic position. Neither power was able to
prevail over the
other, so they
reached an uncommon form of agreement.
The Lombards settled the
upper part of the town, while the Byzantines
concentrated in the lower.
As a consequence, within this once very
populous town, two centres
with two very different cultures
developed. Each center has its own
major church. The Lombards in the
upper areas built The church of
Santa Maria Maggiore, of
Latin rite, and the Byzantines built The church of
San Nicola which practices the
rites of the Greek church, a tradition
that lasted well into the 17th century.
Although all the local churches are now
Roman Catholic, many reveal a Byzantine
The traveler will encounter numerous
smaller churches in the town, and will
find that the vast majority are open
all day and throughout the year.
Some interesting points:
The church in the
complex of the former convent of
Sant’Antonio, of the Observant Minors (15th
century) on the façade has a 16th
century portico, frescoed by Pietrafesa
has a fine wooden doorway flanked by two
stone lions. The interior is of the baroque
two canvasses (The Sacra famiglia and
the Immacolata) by the local painter
Salvatore Ferrari in the 18th
other pictures by Filippo Vitale,
Antonio Vaccaro and Domenico Mondo.
cloister was partially knocked down but
the two remaining wings of the convent conserve cycles of
frescoes by Pietrafesa and Giovanni Todisco
Todisco's works include the Scene della Passione
and the Ultima Cena which is hung
in the refectory (1559).
On the first
floor the Civic Museum displays
archaeological material found at Serra
Città and Piano del PIgnataro, where
archaeologists have found numerous brick kilns active from the
3rd century BC.
The main church was
built with a monumental flight of steps
that incorporated the existing church of
San Nicola dei Greci, covered with small
cross vaults on columns. The upper
baroque church, circa 1744, has an interior
rich in stucco work and impressive altars
with an Adorazione dei Pastori by
Salvatore Ferrari (1761) and a Pentecoste
by Francesco Oliva (1763).
The Church of Sant’Anna
presents an original decoration with
architecture painted by Nicola Maria Rossi
in 1733. This church acted as the chapel
to the noble Alfano family whose mansion
is adjacent to the church itself.
chapel of Asanta Barbara was frescoed by
Giovanni Todisco and his pupils.
of the Annunziata has a frescoed triptych
from the 14th century and a
sculpted group of the Annunciazione in
painted stone which was done in the 16th
On the side opposite the main
church stands the church of Santa Maria dei Poggio,
built in 1726, noted for its apse
which is built upon sheer rock. A 16th -century altar
piece on the main altar is attributed to
Andrea da Salerno.
At Vignaruola the
country Church of Santa Maria del Popolo
presents a stuccoed iconostasis with a
fresco portraying spiritual power (pope
and clergy) and civil power (sovereigns
and dignitaries), flanking a Madonna col
Bambino which was done in the 16th century.
Rivello is a small town, but full of
many treasures - and well worth a visit,
particularly for those who appreciate
church architecture and art.