Typical medieval town

The ancient town

“Roccella was built on the fortress, surrounded by walls and equipped with a defensive approach located on the hill today called of Pizzofalcone. The cross-examination of the ruins of the citadel with the documents available made it possible to formulate some conclusions.

The walled city of roccella is a typical medieval town, most of which occupies the largest part of the fortress, leaning towards the sea, with narrow streets and houses located close to each other, with the noble palaces overlooking the sea and the churches inserted in the urban fabric; a narrow and elongated district in terraces is located on the eastern ridge under the rocky channel of the Castle and is crossed by a road.

The most preserved buildings immediately recognizable in the medieval city are located in the center of the town, overlooking the Piazza Maggiore: the Matrice Church dedicated to San Nicola di Bari and, next to it, the Feudal Palace.

In the ruins of the town, between collapse sites and soil, there are the remains of numerous houses, of at least three palaces, of six churches, of as many streets. The extension of the living space on the fortress suggests the capacity of a population estimated between 1000 and 1500 inhabitants, whereas urban planning in the centuries from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century presented elements substantially different from the evidence today; in fact, the following factors of change must be taken into account:
a) landslides, mudslides and runs-off, have caused some sections of the hill to slide downstream along with the buildings that were there, therefore the space available today is greatly reduced;
b) the houses were small and tightly built with no significant space between them;
c) the extension of the Carafa Palace, occurred between 1709 and 1726, has literally incorporated the entire South-West sector of the town.
From the few surviving notarial sources and from ecclesiastical sources, much more numerous, you are aware of some of the city’s major buildings on the rock: three parish churches (the Matrice or San Nicola Superiore, San Nicola Inferiore since 1625 attested as ex Alif or Aliph, S. Anastasia), the church of the Annunciation obtained in the rescue of the Matrice and attested by the eighteenth century, the simple chapel of S. Giovanni Elemosinario (Almoner) attested in 1591; the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, said de Latinis, by Juspatronato Carafa; in addition: the house of the Universitatis; oil warehouses, shops, the palaces of some families of the aristocracy of Roccella and many houses of feudal property granted to private citizens located in various points of the city.

At the moment, in addition to the Carafa Palace and the Matrice church arcipetrale of S. Nicola Superiore, they can still be identified::


  1. The Church of the Annunciation located under the presbyter of the Matrice Church;

  2. The Church of S. Nicola Inferiore or ex Aliph, probably so-called for belong to the homonymous family attested to Roccella in that period;

  3. The ruins of the church of S. Caterina with the adjoining hospital, located under the southern side of the Matrice Church;

  4. The ruins of another church located under the Castle, in the neighborhood by the terraced structure, identifiable with S. Anastasia;

  5. The Nanni Palace, located on the edge of the rock and leaning against the walls;

  6. The ruins located on the central bastion towards the sea, which may be relevant to the Palace of the ancient family de Celano;

  7. A patrician palace (that of the Pasqualino barons?) located on the main square;

  8. The remains of a chapel leaning against the chancel of the Matrice and communicating with it, of which is preserved an entrance with stone portal decorated, today obliterated by the collapse of the upper right chapel of the Matrice, occurred in September 2000, that, probably, could belong to the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, said de Latinis;

  9. The ruins visible on the east side of the Matrice, along one of the side roads, attributable to the church of free collation of S. Giovanni Elemosinario (Almoner).

From the publication of Marilisa Morrone Naymo “Roccella di San Vittore: la Città il Palazzo la Chiesa” ed. Corab