8 Apr 2014

Italy: a hill town in the Ciociaria region (part 1)

The small hill town of Monte San Giovanni Campano is in our locality and looking down at the valley below from the terraced walkway we can see the road we take to get back to our house in those distant hills.

Monte San Giovanni Campano, originally called Castelforte, is another one of the walled towns perched on a hilltop with a castle and often a Renaissance palace.  Monte San Giovanni has both - an 11th century castle which was the property of the Counts of Aquino and a 16th century ducal palace. The town is famous mainly because Landalfo and Theodora d'Aquino, the owners of the castle and surrounding land, kept their son a prisoner there for two years to try and prevent him joining the Dominican religious order.  Young Thomas escaped from his prison cell, helped by his sister, moved to Cologne where he did, in fact, enter into a studious religious life and became an important theologian.

From the vantage point of the hilltop there are views of the entire valleys to the east and to the west. We drove up the winding road on the east side before parking and walking into the historic centre. The town is also known as 'Olive Oil Town' due the numerous olive trees that are cultivated on the hillsides.


Some houses and apartments are built into the side of the hill and others are perched on rocky outcrops.

There have been assaults on the town over the centuries. The ducal castle had many look-out towers, two prisons, one for men and one for women and there were underground tunnels for easy movement inside the fortified walls.  Even today the rabbit-warren of narrow passages feels very enclosed especially as there's only one main entrance into the small main piazza by way of a narrow, twisting street. 


Part of the castle has been converted into a restaurant and like many others in the area specialises in regional cuisine.

Another view from the eastern side of Monte San Giovanni. After walking through the town on the western side, passing the Saturday market stalls, we continued uphill and stopped for a coffee in the piazza.


  1. Another wonderful post Linda, I truly enjoy looking around Italy from my armchair. Hopefully I will be able to do it for real one day :)

  2. I remember visiting hilltop villages in Tuscany, the views are lovely but in your region the snow topped mountains make them truly spectacular!

  3. This village reminds me a little of the hill villages we visited in France.
    Oh how I love the beautiful of these villages and dream of returning
    to Europe for more travel.

  4. Lovely photos, my favourite are the first two and the last one. I do love to be stood high up and have a lovely view of rolling hills right out to the horizon, I think it really makes you appreciate what nature has to offer!!

  5. Hello Linda,

    How well your pictures capture the essence of this hilltop village. They certainly bring back fond memories for us of visiting similar villages and the glorious Italian landscape. What a marvellous sight all those Olive trees make and, in summer, the glistening of the grey/silver leaves in the summer sun is so lovely.

    Easter us such a joyous season and how wonderful that you will enjoy it in the company of your daughter.

  6. Thanks so much for transporting me to my beloved Italy once more, your region looks delightful. Enjoy Easter with your family. x

  7. love love love all the pics that include that castle. wow and wow and I would love to visit it and wander through the narrow enclosed streets.

  8. Beautiful. You capture such fantastic views in your photos. Enjoy your time with your daughter.

  9. I hope that you have a wonderful Easter with your daughter. It is lovely to see your pictures and hear about the history of the places that you visit in Italy. Thank you for sharing with us. xx

  10. Dear Linda - I have been trying to work out where exactly your home in Italy is? Are you in a central region but south of Rome?
    The landscape is lovely, especially the snow capped mountains framed with blossom.
    Have a wonderful Easter with your daughter staying.

    1. Thank you, Rosemary. Yes, about 60 miles, 100 kms south of Rome.

  11. How interesting about the son being kept prisoner. I loved the olive trees and how wonderful those mosaics are.
    Sighs....ah to have oranges growing on trees....I wish! xxx

  12. Wonderful photos and accompanying history, Linda and what a lovely hill town. Like Jessica (rusty duck) I too remember visiting the hill towns in the Tuscany/Umbria regions and seeing streets lined with orange trees. Have a lovely Easter holiday with your family:)