San Lorenzello, the legend of the village born from a kiss

by Federico Quagliuolo

At the foot of Mount Erbano, in the deep province of Benevento, there is the city of San Lorenzello, wich was founded thanks to a kiss.
The legend of its foundation dates back to 1200 years ago: we have to go back in time, when Benevento was the capital of half of Italy and, in the middle of the Middle Ages, the Roman Empire was only an ancient memory.

San Lorenzo ceramica San Lorenzello
Ceramic tiles with the mythological face of San Lorenzo

A story of pirates

We are in the ninth century and Campania was infested with Saracen pirates. they were ruthless men who they exterminated and ransacked entire villages and, after having made their way along the coasts of Puglia and Campania.

At the time the most important city in the area was ancient Telesia, which today is called Telese Terme. No one would have ever imagined that, some time later, it would be completely razed to the ground by an earthquake.
At the time the city was invaded by the Saracens, who put the population to flight and sacked the city. There Lavorgna family he escaped from there and decided to settle in Cave of Futa, a natural cavity located in the parts of the Mount Erbano, named for its huge pastures and for his herbs.

The life of the Lavorgna family became similar to that of the primitive men: once they were humble peasants suddenly found themselves giving the animal hunting and eat berries and fruits.

San Lorenzello antica dipinto
A painting of ancient San Lorenzello (source: web)

A meeting of destiny

One day the youngest son, such Philip, went out to pick fruit. On the way back, he met one gypsy along the way, which he insisted on predict the future. Philip accepted and a spell was cast on him.

"Your birthplace is noble, your features beautiful, your arm strong and your heart generous. You will still suffer, but the star of an unfortunate woman like you will shine. You will be with her the founder of a city and you will remain immortal

Philip did not give much weight to those words and went back to his cave.

Some time later, he met a girl in tears asking for help because his father was dying: he had been attacked by a wild animal. Her name was Rosita and he was running away from the pirates with his only parent left. Philip tried to help her, but now there was nothing more to be done.
He then returned disconsolately to the cave and found an even more surprise horrible. His entire family had been exterminated.

The afternoon spent saving the girl's father had him saved his life, but the price paid was very high.

San Lorenzello
A view of the country

Philip fell into depression and decided to isolate himself for days, without eating and without drinking.
Then one day, at sunset, Rosita came back in front of the entrance to the cave. She was undernourished and looking for a safe place to shelter. It was lost in the woods and, by pure chance, fate had it reported right in front of the boy.

San Lorenzello is born

At that moment the young Philip remembered the words of the gypsy. And he understood that his destiny it was happening. The sun was now down, the sky was dark and it was a sweet summer night. He took Rosita by the arm, looked at her and he kissed her intensely under the stars.

There were only two left. But they were enough for found a city. It was there night of San Lorenzo and the city was named after him.

Mura di San Lorenzello
In the city there is a place called "Mura Filippo" which recalls the story of the young Lavornga

"The major deceived me!"

A little curiosity: San Lorenzello shares the same territory with the city of San Lorenzo Maggiore, which is located a few kilometers away. It is said that, a few centuries ago, they went on a visit the bishop of Naples and one of his subordinates. The two had to choose which city to visit next Cerreto Sannita, which was the largest settlement in the area. The bishop, fascinated by the high-sounding name, he decided to go towards San Lorenzo Maggiore, imagining of find the most beautiful settlement. San Lorenzello was instead left to the traveling companion.

The two met after a few days on the way back and immediately began to exchange i tell about their experiences. The bishop said he had found one meager reception and to have visited a small poor town frequented by a handful of peasants. The second, on the other hand, said he had been welcomed in San Lorenzello with large parties, lavish banquets and a whole country in celebration: in the '500 the village had about 1600 inhabitants. San Lorenzo Maggiore, on the other hand, was populated after the earthquake that destroyed Telese and after the abandonment of Limatola in 1595.

All these things, however, the prelate could not know. And then he just exclaimed disappointed: "the major deceived me!“.

Many hypotheses have been advanced, but no one knows for sure why San Lorenzello is called with a diminutive. After the Unification it was renamed in "San Lorenzo Minore" to distinguish it from nearby San Lorenzo Maggiore. Then San Lorenzello returned, since it was originally already called that.

-Federico Quagliuolo

San Lorenzello and the Titerno Valley, Nicola Vigliotti

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1 Comment

Carlo 18 November 2021 - 5:48

There is online sales, I live in Caserta and if there is a shop you supply taralli. Thanks


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