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History of Amaseno

 
History of Amasen

istory of Amaseno

Descriptive signs, Historic signs, Demographic movement  


ntroduction

Amaseno has the fortune of possessing lots of art treasures and a history rich in religious, medieval and civil memories it is worth to know about. The first person to write about Amaseno's history and to bring into light its important monuments was Giuseppe Tomassetti, well known Roman archaeologist and historian (1848-1911), who was given the job by Ecc.mi Mons. Diomede e Agapito Panici.

The job was not easy because it was necessary to start from scratch; but Tomassetti well knew where to get the relevant documents. He explored different files, especially the Casa Colonna's file, which hi had previously tidied up, the Vatican and Ferentino's secret files and three of the local ones. With lots of patience, Tomassetti decoded and copied again the antique papers worn out and yellowed by age. His work was published in Rome by the Unione Cooperativa Editrice in 1897.

Since then many years have gone by and the few original published copies can now only be found in major national libraries. Of course, in recent years other facts have taken place and other documents have been discovered . It is therefore necessary to complete and update the Tomassetti's work and that's why we have included an appendix as a summary of Amaseno's history and its monuments; we want everybody to know about our treasures, about a land which became famous by the miracle of San Lorenzo’s blood.

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escriptive signs

Amaseno is in the Lazio region, 110 Km south of Rome, and it is situated precisely on the upper valley of its river also called Amaseno. It is surrounded, in an amphitheatre-look alike, by the Lepini and Ausoni mountains with their highestpeak, Monte delle Fate, reaching 1090 meters.

You can get access to the city from the motorway in two directions: from Pianura Pontina, going through Priverno (17 Km), and from Castro dei Volsci going trough Vallefratta (8,4 Km). It is also possible to get here from Fondi through Vallecorsa. Amaseno's territory is one of the widest in the Frosinone province 77 square km. Nearby cities are Villa S. Stefano, Castro dei Volsci, Vallecorsa, Monte S. Biagio, Sonnino, Roccasecca dei Volsci and Prossedi. There are over 4.000 inhabitants in Amaseno, mostly farmers living in the countryside.

The vegetation is typical of the Mediterranean climate, ranging from sage, holm oak, oak and olive trees. The main products are cereals, olive oil, pulses, vegetables, tobacco, wood and animals. There are 36 water springs counted so far in Amaseno, the biggest one being Capo d'acqua. Experts from the Universita' di Roma have analysed the water and stated that it is very good to drink, it's pure, light, helps digestion and so it is good for your well-being. Water is mainly used in agriculture and also feeds the Amaseno river or, as Virgilio would call it, the «Amasene pater» and «Amasenus abundans» (En. VII, 685;XI,547).

 

The historic centre is situated on a hill at 112 m. from sea level nearby M. Civitella. It has medieval characteristics with a surrounding wall and a feudal castle. Houses are made of dark limestone, quite simple and of rustic appearance. Here and there you can see 18th century buildings with elegant doors and windows. The streets are narrow with cobbled surfaces; two squares open in front of San Pietro and Santa Maria found on the opposite sides of the city. There are five access doors to the historic centre: Porta S. Maria, Porta del Cauto, Porta del Colle, Porta di Marco Testa, Porta Nova. Outside the wall there are pretty modern constructions such as the counsel building, the war monument, the school building a varies private homes.

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istoric signs

Research shows that there is no proof that Amaseno is of Roman origin. Furthermore, it's position is not one of a safe and strategic place typical in Roman time. Bertarelli and other historians back the idea that Amaseno was set up in eight hundred AD in the surroundings of a monk's abbey, typical of other medieval cities. At that time barbaric invasions were a real threat to people and the abbey was seen as the safest place to be. Soon people started to get organised, build new houses and infrastructures.


The first documented news about Amaseno dates back to the first millennium, when the city was called «S. Lorenzo
» and the valley known as «Valle di S. Lorenzo», as registered in the Tabularium Cassinense (Tom.1,pag.228,a.1025). From the Annales Ceccanenses we know that Amaseno, that is S. Lorenzo, was the property of the Conti di Ceccano (Earls of Ceccano), and that after bloody fighting it became the pope's property. In 1165 the war between Federico I called Barbarossa and pope Alessandro III ended up with the sacking and burning of the entire city.

In 1208 S. Lorenzo had the honour to guest for a day the then famous pope Innocenzo III in his castle. Later in 1419, the city was taken by Queen Giovanna II of Naples, which she gave to Princes Colonna and to Princes Caetani in the successive years. Then followed a dispute of the city between the two families that lasted nearly two centuries. In 1591, S. Lorenzo was finally given to Princes Colonna who reigned till 1816, i.e. the abolition of the old system.

The seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries saw prosperity and serenity among the people but at the beginning of the successive century all that changed. The conquer of the peninsula by French troops and their new ideas of liberty and democracy, brought political instability with it. The fighting for the power generated rebellion among people and bandits were spreading everywhere.

In 1870, with the occupation of Lazio and Rome the State of Italy was finally born. The anti-papal feeling came into light and the new local councillors decided then to change the name of  «S. Lorenzo» to «Amaseno», it's river's name. However, the spiritual site of most people remained untouched and they are still now very religious.


Coat of arms the village when it was called San Lorenzo


 


During the great wars many men left their families to fight the enemies; most of them died while others were brought to the concentration camps. In the second world war civilians had to hide themselves on the mountains after the spread of violence incurred by the Allied forces, suffering starvation and deprivations.

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emographic movement

The population of Amaseno has changed over the centuries. We could say that around one hundred people lived in the surroundings of the monk's abbey, as craftsmen and farmers. The number increased when more land was reclaimed from the valley.

The oldest document on the matter dates back to 1593 and can be found in Santa Maria’s church. The then priest D. Domenico Rotondi counted 166 families and 755 people. In 1654 the population went down to 577 due to the spreading of plague. Unfortunately, no similar document has been found in the other major church, i.e. San Pietro’s church, so we cannot say for sure how many people used to live in Amaseno.

According to the council's census, at the end of the last century the number of inhabitants raised to 2965. The population reached its high in 1958 with 4.592 registered. The rise in number was mainly due to people living in nearby Vallecorsa settling on the other side of the mountains. In recent years there has been a steady decrease in numbers due to emigration.

Translated by Mauro Rotondi & Beverley Wheatley


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