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.