Apice is a town in the province of Benevento, located at an altitude of 245 meters above sea level, surrounded by tall green hills that reach 600 m The land is lush and cultivated and edged by three rivers, the Calore, the Miscano and the Ufita. The persistence of a mild climate and a hilly provide excellent crops for cultivation of the vine, olive and vegetables. The etymological origin of the name Apice is much discussed, according to some it derives from the Latin apex meaning with topographic, in reference to the geographical location of the town on top of a hill, others have taken its name from Marcus Apicius. The literary tradition collects under this name some people who have dealt with food at different times, unlike the classical tradition does not mention the figure of Apicius which console or officer of the Senatus Romanus in charge of collecting taxes in the hinterland of Campania (publicanus). The first reference to Apicius news is that you have a fierce opponent of the Lex Fannia limiting the wasteful and unnecessary during the banquet, including the excessive number of guests. The second was the wealthy patrician Marco Gavio Apicius, who lived in the first century AD and found the author of many recipes then subsequently collected in the De re coquinaria, the first treatise on cooking. A more attractive hypothesis sees the origin of the name of the ancient people Iapigi, Indo-European population that settled between the second and first millennium BC in today Puglia; reference to Apice is traced in the local dialect, which indicated the term ” Iapici “just the town. The favorable location of the territory in the ancient world, is testified by the presence in the locality Morroni, the remains of a Roman bridge, called Ponte Rotto, part of the Via Appia, vital road artery that connected Rome to Brindisi and the East , defined by the classical historians to the importance of the track, as the regina viarum. The structures are related to a bridge (Roman viaduct) and cover a period from I BC to VII AD, within which one can identify at least four different building techniques, referable to as many historical phases; the current state are visible arch and at least three stacks of the bridge and two pillars high medieval constructed of materials for reuse from mausoleums funerary Hadrian. The viaduct was humpbacked with six large arches of light varying from 22 to 10 meters and a linear development of approximately 190 m, and a ‘maximum height of 13 meters. A reference to Apice is mentioned for the first time in VIII century, in a charter granting the Lombard Prince Grimoaldo to Montecassino “sub Apice”. During XI century Apice belonged to the county of Ariano, and in this stage there was the construction of the Castle dell’Ettore. On the territory of Apice according to historical sources were located seven castles, which are still preserved the ruins, (the locations: Tignano and Fiego), these structures were part of a complex defensive system and control over what he saw in the Castello dell ‘Ettore the key to the exercise of power. The Castle dell’Ettore built on the highest point of the hill, overlooking both the middle valley of the Calore, which the ancient town, the latter appears to be organized according to the arrangement to “shell”, typical of medieval towns, where ‘ whole set of roads and road network is convergent and alleyways lined with medieval castle. A document of 1626 the castle dell’Ettore is described as surrounded by “three very strong bulwarks,” of which you can now admire only one in its structural integrity, with handouts, characterized by the presence of frescoed rooms and a chapel. The building that now is our day is the result of the ongoing reconstruction, restructuring due to the sequence of seismic events, changes of intended use and the alternation of several properties throughout the centuries. Characteristic is also the center of town now deserted, interested in these years by substantial recovery interventions aimed at the exploitation and use of the old village, damaged by the earthquake of 1962 and 1980, which was followed by a progressive transfer of the town site New Apice of today, thanks to the work of the then Mayor Luigi Bocchino. In the center you can admire the ancient church of St. Nicholas and the church of St. Bartholomew abadiale dating from the sixteenth century. In the old village there are some old houses of the early twentieth century, attributable in part to construction of the “Fascist” with mansions of XVIII and XIX century, like the palaces Cantelmo, Perriello and Falcetti. The area of Apice over the centuries until our day, has hosted several religious congregations, which in turn have left indelible witness the places of worship, as the Benedictine abbey at Contrada San Lorenzo, the monastery of St. John Fortress of the Augustinian Fathers in the district of St. Martin, but especially the Convent of St. Francis, whose foundation along with the miraculous spring are attributed to the saint of Assisi in 1222, during his arrival in Southern Italy, the legend in the territory of Apice, St. Francis of Assisi would have known the Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, who returned from Castel del Monte was usually dwell in the castle of the Prince, near Apice. The religious symbol Apicese is undoubtedly represented by the Convent of St. Anthony, according to sources built in 1530 by Father Ludovico da Fossombrone, the church has two aisles and the wooden altar. It was made by Bernardino da Massa with a painting of St. Francis in the act of receiving the stigmata, the altar lesser placed in the right aisle, portrays St. Anthony of Padua, painted with his covered head and with a lily in his left hand and in his right an open book, as in the representation of Giotto in Padua. The convent that now houses the Capuchin Friars is a pilgrimage destination and cornerstone of the local religion, especially during the traditional “Tredicina” by S. Antonio during the month of June. Since II World War Apice took first place among the countries of the Province of Benevento to the fairs and markets, which were organized with an almost monthly basis, as reported on the plaque kept at the old City Hall. During XV century, sources report that one show, the Assumption, which lasted three days, up to XX century when the fairs were five: St. John (protector of the country); on August 15 ( feast of the Assumption); on 30 and 31 May at the end of the Marian month; on 8 December in honor of the Immaculate Conception and the first Sunday of October for the Feast of SS. Rosario.These were added later date, in March, April, July, September, November. The reason why these events were so close is related to the favorable geographic position of the country, the availability of a suitable site ( location Ariella) to host visitors and livestock and the proximity of the railway. In ancient times the emblem of Apice had three united hills, on whose summits stood out some ears of corn. It was assigned, according to historical sources, in 1504 by King Ferdinand of Aragon, for supplying wheat in abundance and so relieved the misery in that year plagued the Kingdom of Naples. In today’s emblem three flames have taken the place of the ears, and a river (the Calore) was included at the foot of the hills.
Text by dott. Antonio Mesisca Dionizio
Translation by dott. Assuntina Minutella