Vallo di Nera
It has Roman origins but the territory (4th – 2nd century BC) was already inhabited by the Naharci population (so called because of the river Nahar, namely Nera nowadays), of probable Celtic origin. In the 4th century, the Lombard Curtis of Vallo used to belong to the Spoleto Duchy. In 1217, Spoleto allowed Vallo to build the Castle, so giving rise to the current urban planning. In 1522 – 23 the military captain Pietrone from Vallo, heading a coalition of castles in the valley, rose up against Spoleto but ended up burned. Following the ruinous defeat there was also a plunder by Lansquenets. The castle of Vallo rose again shortly afterwards, as showed by a fresco of Jacopo Siculo that represents it intact and flourishing. The reference to Nera was added just after the unification of Italy.
The urban layout still preserves the formwork, a substantial part of the town walls (the Carbonaia) and the mighty tower provided with shelves and drains. There are two access gates: Porta Ranne and the Customs door, called Portella. Inside the walls you get the feeling to fly back in time: slits, drains, narrow passages, burnished and tightened alleys, Romanesque churches and doors in stone.
Places to see are the church of St. Mary of Assumption (12th century), that preserves important frescoes of the Giottesca School and the famous “Procession of Bianchi” (1401), the church of St. John Baptist, a Romanesque building of the 13th century erected on the highest point of Vallo di Nera and devoted to the patron saint of Vallo, that preserves in the apse frescoes by Jacopo Siculo, as well as the church of St. Catherine to which the convent of Franciscan Tertiaries was attached.
Outside the walls there is the 15th century church of St. Rocco, with a gabled façade decorated with a wrought iron gate.
The territory is studded by castles and villas: Piedipaterno, ancient settlement at the bottom of the valley, hosts the parish church of St. Sebastian, erected in 1253, the Chapel of Our Lady of Graces, the church of SS. Peter and Paul and the remains of the ancient Abbey of St. Maria dell’Eremita, located along the Nursina Road.
In the village of Geppa, a little castle of early medieval origins, it’s possible to visit the church of St. Stephen, whereas in the nearby Paterno, an ancient settlement risen in the early medieval era, it’s possible to admire the churches of St. Giusto and St. Bernardo. In Meggiano there are the church of St. Michael Archangel, of the early 17th century and the church of St. Maria de Pedemonte. Nearby one can glimpse the ruined houses of Roccagelli and La Forca.