One of the Irpinian towns I know quite well is Grottaminarda, as I stayed there several times while visiting when lodging was unavailable in Guardia. Grottaminarda is a beautiful city in the area surrounding the Ufita River– it’s also the access point from the autostrada to most of the Irpinian towns, including Guardia Lombardi, that are closest to my heart.
I follow the Facebook page for the Comune di Grottaminarda on Facebook and was happily surprised recently when I saw that the town recently put its guide, “Grottaminarda within Longobard ways across Europe” on its website. As the Lombard tribe is the tribe from where my ancestral town of Guardia Lombardi derives its name (it means “lookout of the Lombards”) and my own last name, “Longo,” directly comes from the tribe’s name, I knew I had to take a look. The Lombards did settle in Irpinia and several towns, such as Guardia Lombardi, Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi, and Torella dei Lombardi, recognize their influence in their names.
The guide was created as part of a municipal project called “Le(g)ali al Sud” and it was translated into both English and German so that it could appeal to as wide an audience as possible. In face, the guide was so popular that the town ran out of hard copies and it is only available in digital form… which is perfect for those of us living abroad!
According to Grottaminarda’s website, the guide is a “touristic and cultural itinerary” that was created in part to “retrace the footsteps” of the Lombards. The guide itself is brief: it is only eight pages long, but it is filled with historic information that you can’t find just anywhere. You not only discover the history of the city of Grottaminarda itself, you learn its place in Lombard history and its overall role in Italy’s history as a whole. You also learn about some of Grottaminarda’s most important locales, such as its castle, the Church of St. Michael the Archangel, the Church of St. Mary Major (this is where I attended Mass while staying in town– it’s breathtaking inside!), the Aragonese Customs House, Carpignano, the Church of St. Thomas Aquinas, the King’s Fountain, and other historic tidbits that help you understand just how special of a place Grottaminarda and Irpinia truly are.