Afragola, the origin of the name: strawberry field or aqueduct?

by Federico Quagliuolo

Afragola has an interesting name. Together with Giugliano e Pozzuoli And one of the most populous municipalities in the province of Naples (during the Bourbon era it was the largest city in the Terra di Lavoro) but, like so many places in the Campania hinterland, it is little valued. Starting from origins of its name, lost in the nights of time.

In fact, there are those who say that the name is one mangling of "strawberries" and who, instead, is son of the glass shards of an old aqueduct.

Stemma Comune Afragola
The coat of arms of Afragola: a hand holding strawberries,

The origin of Afragola: a Norman city

We are sure that the Afragolese area has been frequented since the Neolithic times. It was then frequented by You dare and come on Romans, but the city of Afragola did not exist yet: on the one hand it was well known Atella, on the other hand it prospered Acerra, while in the center they were alone sparse settlements, fertile fields and some tombs.

To discover the first time "Afraore" is mentioned we need to ask for help from Bartolommeo Capasso, which identifies in a document of 1105 there first time we talk about the city, listed among some small fiefdoms granted to the Monastery of Santi Severino and Sossio. From that moment on, references to the city began to flood: da such a Pagan "de la Frahola" to the fiefdom of "Afragone“, “Afragolla” “Fraola”And many other versions during the times of Swabians. Really Charles I of Anjou visited the city in the 13th century, so it means that there was a very rapid growth of the settlement, which became more and more important in the Land of Work.

Il popolo omaggia ruggiero il normanno afragola
The people pay homage to Ruggiero the Norman

With or without strawberries?

The heraldic coat of arms of Afragola sure: the origin of the name of the city derives from strawberries, as it could also make us suspect the assonance between words. In reality, this theory is not quite certain.

According to the interpretations fragolists, there are two possibilities: the name could be a deformation of Villa Fragorum (Villa delle fragole), later deformed into Villafragorum, Afragorum, Afragorum e Afragola. Or from the dialect 'a strawberry, with a shift of the accent forward.

But there is a problem: the production of strawberries has never been known of the territory which, for the most part, was destined to crops of cereals. And it is very strange, given that both the ancient Romans and the local authors have always been very inclined to pay homage to the fruits of the land of the countryside bells and many municipalities, such as Melito, they got their own name for the local production.

Acquedotto del Serino
In the past, the arches of the Serino Aqueduct characterized various panoramas of Campania.

The Roman aqueduct

It is probably still very difficult to understand today the importance who had a work like l'Serino Aqueduct on the entire territory of Campania.

In addition to being a real engineering miracle of the ancient Romans, it was also the first major artificial work that dominated the landscapes of an entire region. For this reason, many areas or municipalities have took its name from the presence of the Roman aqueduct, how Pomigliano d'Arco. In the case of Afragola, there was a Madonna dell'Arcora far from the historic center (today part of Casalnuovo) and there was also one Piazza dell'Arco where probably a piece of the Roman aqueduct ran with its famous red arches. Obviously no artifacts have arrived.

There is also a district near Afragola called Arcopinto, which was once a autonomous village, then destroyed and incorporated in Afragola.

The term, second sources defined as "invalid" by local historians, it could derive from "fracha" And "olla", or ruins" And "vases, which would be two perfect terms to indicate the presence of the Serino aqueduct abandoned in medieval times. From "Fracholla" or "Fracholle"Then we moved on to"Strawberry" And "Afragola“.
Giacinto Libertini, local physician and historian, assumes instead that it is the mangling of Afor'arcora (outside the arches), always meaning the aqueduct. However, these theses are more linked to linguistic conjectures, as there is no practical evidence to support them.

A mangled name

Because the city has seen hers name mangled in every way, making the reconstruction of its origins? He answers us an illustrious citizen: Gennaro Aspreno Rocco, the man who left Afragola to become one of the most important Latinists of his time. In his opinion the problem arose from the ignorance of his own fellow citizens and officials of the time which were limited to write a name that was constantly pronounced (and mangled) aloud. At least until it began to encode once and for all the name around the 15th century. At the time of Ferrante of Aragon, in fact, Afragola was now an autonomous and well known urban center. In 1576 it then became in effect a farmhouse in Naples.

Today it still shares the metropolitan area with Naples, as well as being the industrial area of the city.

-Federico Quagliuolo

Thanks to the advice of Domenico Corcione for the correction and definition of this article.

Egidio Finamore, Origin and history of local Campania names, Arcolaio, Naples, 1966
Giacinto Libertini: Etymology of Afragola, Researchgate

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