The Castle

The admiral fortressa On the top of a rocky mountain that overlooks the Caffaro walloon stand the ruins of the towers, the base and the walls of the Lauria castle, whose celebrity is bound to the figure of Ruggero di Lauria, famous admiral of Aragon. The Great Avenger of Federico Riccardo, the father of the “great captain”, was so much worth Fredrick’s great consideration that was elected viceroy of the lands of Bari and Great Avenger of Basilicata. He certainly set his dwelling in the castle of Lauria, which, as the Muntaner affirms, must have been ‘the most remarkable’ of the twenty-four castles under his order, in the dungeons of which noble personalities in disfavor with Fredrick would be guarded by the Great Avenger. The beginnings beyond the fame According to some, the history of the Lauria castle is older than its most famous owner: the evidence about this is not plentiful, but some tracks allow to presuppose the events of its origins. The oldest documents, today approved, are those that date back the age of restoration and fortification of the castle due to Gisulfo I, prince of Salerno, of Lombard origin, to the second half of the X cent. According to others, the construction of the castle is to be dated back to the XIII cent.: the still existing structures do not permit an exact reconstruction of the complex that must have had, however, a big size.     Traces of ancient greatness Orthogonal in plant, with perimeter wall of remarkable size, the building maybe developed on three floors and had lateral towers of which some trail still remains. The sole access was on the east side: there are few trails of a very steep stairway and the main entrance is also visible, built on living rock. The walls are the traditional type in local stone. The completely unstable condition of preservation, the vast vegetation that covered it, do not cover up the proof of ancient greatness, firstly proved by the map type that vaguely reminds the more famous Monte Federiciano castle. The manor house, in an overlooking position and completely impregnable, was originally a fortress, guard and menace of the valley, built to remember from age to age both the power of Ruggero and the charm of his old stock. The opposition to Napoleon The castle was the heart of the opposition to the assault of the French General Massena, Who conquered and strongly punished the town of Lauria, risen up after the French occupation in 1806. Many citizens on the 8th and 9th of August were brutally murdered by the soldiers of Napoleon: the event went down in history as Lauria’s butchery. The voice of revenge As the legend goes, in this castle the feudatories lodged the most beautiful maids of the area, to instruct them to the art of love and espionage, and send them to the gentlemen who needed them. According to the legend, one day one of these beautiful maids, brought up by one of the lords of the castle, fell in love with an attendant. The lord, in a fit of rage, killed the attendant thinking that living alone he could be loved as he had been in the past. But, in a stormy night, the young girl asked him to follow her in the nether where they would taste the fruit of love. While the lord was going down the stairs, he saw a door opening: it was the ghost of the murdered who pretended the lord’s best love, his soul. The story goes that the lord was thrown out of a castle window by the girl and the attendant’s ghost. Thenceforth some draughts are heard that recount this horrible story. Noli me tangere The Basilisk is the emblem of the Lauria district, with its writing Noli me tangere (“don’t touch me”) that acquires all series of meanings, among which the original one, still alive in the common conscience, that is the frightfulness and the untouchability of the area, thanks to the presence of the fortress.   Sources: – – “Lauria: città 10 e lode” – Fotottica Moderna a cura di A. Chiacchio e C. D’Alessandro, 2001