It has Roman origins but the territory (4th – 2nd century BC) was already inhabited by the Naharci population, named after the river Nahar, known today as the Nera, who were of probable Celtic origin. In the 4th century, the Lombard manor of Vallo belonged to the Duchy of Spoleto. In 1217, Spoleto allowed Vallo to build the Castle, so giving rise to the current town layout. In 1522 – 23 the military captain Pietrone from Vallo, heading a coalition of castles in the valley, unsuccessfuly rose up against Spoleto. Following the ruinous defeat there was also a plunder by Landsknechte mercenary soldiers. The castle of Vallo rose again shortly afterwards, as showed by a fresco byJacopo Siculo that represents it intact and flourishing. The reference to Nera was added just after the unification of Italy.
ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT
The urban layout still preserves the fortress, a substantial part of the town walls (the Carbonaia) and the mighty tower provided with corbels and drains. There are two access gates: Porta Ranne and the Customs gate, called Portella. Inside the walls you get the feeling of travelling back in time: loopholes, corbels, narrow passages, closed alleyways, Romanesque churches and stone doorways.
Places to see are the church of St. Mary of Assumption (12th century), that preserves important frescoes of the Giottesque School and the famous Procession of the 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 fortresses 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 little village of Geppa, of early medieval origins, it’s possible to visit the church of St. Stephen, and in nearby Paterno, an ancient settlement dating back to 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.