Up on the edge of the plain the landscape reaches to the nearby mountains with the lazy sweetness of its slopes and banks thick with olive trees, topped by utterly green, leafy crowns; the copious plants in tidy arrangement make up a wood, united by a congenial solidarity of existence.
With its location and history, Venafro offers the visitor fascinating itineraries of discovery.
The city is the main urban centre in the high valley of Volturno, characterised by a flood plain sheltered by the Mainarde and the Matese chains. Once the site of a prehistoric settlement, it developed in the Samnite era and in Roman times.
Situated on the bifurcation of the ancient road Via Latina (towards Campania and Samnium) Venafro became an important centre for trade. Rome established a prefecture in the ancient Samnitic city. After Venafro became a Roman district following the conquest of the Samnium region in 290 B.C. , the city saw the construction of important public works such as the aqueduct, the amphitheatre and the theatre.
When the city was abandoned following the fall of the Roman Empire, it shrank to a few buildings clustered around a cathedral. At the end of the sixth century, Venafro was no longer an episcopal see, and the Lombards occupied the vast amphitheatre with their defense structures . At the end of the tenth century, the city spread north towards the mountain, extending over the remains of the previous Roman settlement. It was here that the Pandone Castle was first built.
In the natural scenery of Monte Santa Croce, amongst the olive tree groves which for centuries have characterised the agricultural landscape around Venafro, the medieval city gradually spread towards the plain again. The different phases of this urban evolution explain the cathedral’s unusual location outside the city walls.
Between the fourteenth and the fifteenth century, Venafro underwent further development under Anjou and Aragonese rule. During the latter’s domination, it became a fiefdom of the Pandone family, who ennobled the city with renaissance style buildings.
In spite of today’s fast, modern development, Venafro has preserved the traces of its fascinating history and continues to blend harmoniously with the landscape.