I got to see a little more of Benevento in a couple of days in 2017 than I did during my even shorter stay in 2005 but please don’t consider this a guide, it’s just a quick round up of some of the things I saw in a very short space of time. My Google map is here.
The Arco di Traiano on Via Traiano is probably Benevento’s most famous monument as it is the best-preserved ancient Roman arch still in existence.
It was built in honour of the Emperor Trajan. It sits over the Via Appia, at the point where it enters the city, which during the Lombard era was known as Port’Aurea.
The bas-relief panels depict various imperial activities.
Over the road is Complesso Monumentale di Sant’Ilario a Port’Aurea; an unimpressive but very ancient church dating from around the beginning of the 7th century. The building is presumably of Lombard origin but was built on previous ruins.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is also of Lombard origin, dating from the 9th century.
It was rebuilt in the 1960s after it was destroyed by Allied aircraft in WW2. The façade takes inspiration from the Pisan Gothic style.
You can see a small exhibition of in the crypt and there are various other artefacts dotted about the place. The bas-relief of a pig wearing a stole has become a symbol of the city.
There’s a nice fountain next to the cathedral.
From here it’s a short walk to the Roman area. I think these supporting arches date from the Lombard period.
The Teatro Romano was built in the second century.
Although abandoned by the Lombards it has remained intact and is occasionally used for performances today.
Nearby is the Arco del Sacramento, a Roman arch dating to the beginning of the second century.
For a slightly longer walk, go through the Port’Arsa…
…and down to the Fiume Sabato where you can see the roman bridge, the Ponte Leproso.
Back on Corso Garibaldi at #139 is the Obelisco Neoegizio; an Egyptian obelisk, one of two erected, between 88 and 89 AD that stood on either side of the entrance to the temple of Isis, as described by the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the four sides.
Further up Corso Garibaldi is Chiesa di Santa Sofia, a hexagon-shaped church of Lombard origin dating to around 760. In 2011 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The castle of Benevento, known as the Rocca dei Rettori or Rocca di Manfredi, is also on Corso Garibaldi at the highest point of the town.
The Samnites and Romans had already used the site but in the Middle Ages, it became the seat of the Papal governors, the Rettori. Perhaps some of the purloined building blocks in the wall date from earlier times.
It has two parts; the Torrione (Big Tower), built by the Lombards starting from 871, and the Palazzo dei Governatori, built by the Popes from 1320.
The Palazzo Paolo V at 145 Corso Garibaldi, was the municipal seat during the papal control of Benevento. The facade is classical Mannerist. Construction began in the late sixteenth century, under the pontificate of Paul V from whom it takes its name.
I only looked inside briefly, but it was long enough to get another pic of the symbol of the city.
On the continuation of Corso Garibaldi at Viale Atlantici is the local park Villa Comunale, laid out in the late 19th century.
Nearby is this attractive building from a similar period.
On both my visits in 2005 and 2017 I stayed at the Hotel Villa Traiano. The staff are very helpful and the breakfast is great. It’s also well-placed for the Arco di Traiano which is just over the road and Corso Garibaldi is just a five-minute walk.
It’s a nice old former private residence that has been converted into a hotel and so the rooms are all different shapes and sizes. On my last visit in 2017 the room I had was large and spacious, although being in the basement meant the WiFi wasn’t great. In 2005 my room was much smaller with only a narrow gap around the wall. A good tip for all hotels in Italy is to look at the fire department diagrams on the walls to get an idea of they have should you want to change your room for a bigger one.
So, this beautiful hilltop town has heaps of history. I only had a short stay so I didn’t learn as much as I’d like to about the things I saw, but it’s always good to leave something for next time.
Please see my next post for Food in Benevento.