Il Castello

Her Majesty Leaning against the Pollino chain sloping gently toward the Ionian Sea, the majestic castle of Orion lies. With its square plan and towers in Norman style, it overlooks the town as if to protect it from enemy hands. The origin of this construction is uncertain but it may be placed in the period before 1200 because in 1221 it was already owned by Frederick II of Swabia. Frederick II grants the great forest Bears the signature of the Emperor, in fact, the act of April 24th, 1221 by which Frederick II donated to the Cistercian convent of St. Maria del Sagittario “a great forest” in the territory of Oriolo. And this is where the castle-feudal fortress is located, one of the most important structures, perfectly preserved, of the entire system of watchtowers and castles on the Ionian coast. The first Norman-Swabian plant was trapezoidal, winding around the square tower; it consisted of the military floor, the main noble floor and the floor of the servants. The fall of the Swabians At the fall of the Swabian dynasty, the castle came under the rule of Charles of Anjou; it was later owned by an heir of the Ruffo-Sanseverino branch. Between the fourteenth and the seventeenth century, the castle passed alternately from the possessions of the lords of Oriolo to the possessions of the crown. In 1528 the building was sold to the Marquis Marcello Pignone, the Pignone family owned it until 1899, when it was bought by the Soria family who wielded rights until 1977, when the castle was bought by the City of Oriolo which made it a national monument.


The History

The origins The old town is situated on a rocky cemented and massive sandstone spur. It dominates the Iron valley, crossed by the river of the same name, once known as River Acalandro. The Acalandro was the border between Siritide and Sibaritide: Sibaritide stretched from the river Trionto to the Acalandro and Siritide from the Acalandro to the river Aciris (Agri). The fear of Saracen invasions The current fortified town was built for defense against potential Saracen invasions. Sadly famous is the Nicephorus Phocas and Abbas Ibn Fadhl’s invasion, then defeated by Ludwig II. Another more ferocious invasion was that of Ibrahim Ibn Ahmed, who set fire to Calabria, especially along the coast. George Toscano, in his “History of Oriolo” (1695), probably referred to this time when stating that the people of the coast, not to be exterminated by the infidels, escaped “under the rock” of Oriolo, settling in the district of Ravita. Then they built homes on several floors … “that they encircled with crenellated walls.” Remains of these walls were visible years ago mainly in the southwest of the current Old Town. In the Byzantine period the consolidation of the rule, the new social organization, the economic recovery, the monastic fervor, brought a profound and triumphant renewal. The greatness of Oriolo Around the year one thousand Oriolo was already a “civitas” and notarial office seat; of the greatness and importance of Oriolo we have proof in a bull of Pope Alexander II of 13th April 1068 sent to Arnaldo, Archbishop of Acerenza. The “city” of Venosa, Montemilone, Potenza, … Gravina, Matera, Tursi … Virolo (Oriolo) belonged to the metropolitan Seat, together with the castles, barns, little urban agglomerates, monasteries and citizens .. Ruggero and Frederick and the failed conspiracy In 1129 Oriolo was besieged and taken by King Ruggero. By an act of April 24th, 1221 Frederick II donated to the monastery of the Cistercian monks of S. Maria del Sagittario “a great forest” in the territory of Oriolo. Yet in 1679, some citizens of Oriolo still corresponded a tax in kind (terraggio) to Cardinal Vidone, Commendatory of the abbey of Sagittarius. In 1246 Oriolo was held as sub-feud by Ruggero De Amicis, as stated by a Protocol of 10th January 1277. Ruggero De Amicis, “feudatory of Cerchiara, Albidona, Orioli, … was one of most prominent Sicily’s senior officials and was last Grand Justiciary. He partook in the conspiracy against Frederick II with Pandolfo of Fasanella, general vicar in Tuscany, and the Morra brothers. The plot was discovered by Riccardo of Caserta and goods were confiscated from the conspirators. Ruggero died in 1248 and, therefore, his son Corrado was reinstated in the barony of Oriolo after Frederick’s forgiveness. It’s worth remembering Ruggero De Amicis also for its contribution to the Sicilian School; he exchanged, in fact, verses and ballads with Rinaldo d’Aquino, one of the main representatives of this school, “among greatest in the court of Frederick.” The Angevins and infidelity In 1265 Oriolo was owned by Charles II d ‘Anjou. On June 3rd , 1428 Ludwig III “pitying the damages suffered by the University because of the wars with fires, destruction of homes, and recognizing the decline in population because of transfers to other places,” and above all for their loyalty and devotion to the crown, granted numerous tax concessions. The feud of Oriolo passed onto the Sanseverinos, who again were guilty of the crime of rebellion but, “forced into fidelity”, on January 17th, 1461, petitioned the king so that “he would deign to pardon them, subject Lords and vassals.” They asked again the reconfirmation and the new re-granting of cities, castles and lands, odal and feudal goods. Ferdinand I of Aragon, called Ferrante, returned the goods to the Sanseverinos. After another conspiracy, the Emperor Charles V, in 1552, processed and declared Ferdinando Sanseverino felon, guilty of “treason.” The feud of Oriolo was taken over by the Royal House of Sommaria and then sold to Marcello Pignone, president of the same House. Sources: I castelli della provincia di Cosenza: itinerari tra paesaggi castellari di Vincenzo Condino Italia Pontificia,IX,pag. 456;Ughelli (Tomo VII,37);Nigro-”Memorie…sulla città di Tursi” Wikipedia