View of Casalvieri in the Val di Comino Italy © Louise Shapcott

photo © Louise Shapcott

Casalvieri

Casalvieri is sited on a small hill, at a height of 380 metres above sea level,  which overlooks the beautiful Val di Comino.  The population of the town is approximately 2,700, and the locals are known as Casalvierani.

The Historic Centre of Casalvieri

Within the historic centre are the remains of the ancient town walls, two of the castle’s watch towers and two gateways the Porta Maggiore and Porta San Giovanni. There are numerous narrow cobble-stoned alleys of to explore with something of interest around every corner.

The principal church of Casalvieri, which dates from the 18th century, is dedicated to the Saints San Giovanni Battista ed Evangelista.

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Noble Palaces

Also within the historic center there are several grand palaces that were owned by the nobility of Casalvieri. In Piazza della Collegiate stands the Palazzo Jacobelli, built in the second half of the 16th century and enlarged in the 18th century.  The Jacobelli family was the most illustrious of Casalvieri and gave donations towards the building of several churches including the Collegiate of San Giovanni. Nearby is the 16th century Palazzo Boncompagni in Largo Morrelli.

The Palazzo De Vecchis was built at the beginning of the 17th century near to the Porta Maggiore. This Baroque palace was built just outside of the town walls adjacent to the church of San Nicola. The 16th-17th century Rezzi Palace is in Strada di Sotto and overlooks the stream of Santa Lucia. The palace has one of the medieval towers of the old town walls incorporated into its structure. Other palaces include the Palazzo Piemonte.

Outside of the town is the 19th century Palazzo Fanelli (formerly Palazzo De Vecchis) located in the district of  Collefossa. In the district of Casal delle Mole is the imposing Palazzo Zincone dating from the 18th-19th century.

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Photo Tour of the Old Historic Centre

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Outside The Town Walls

In the 19th century the town was extended outside of the town walls. The Comune or Town Hall of Casalvieri stands in Piazza Municipo. In the adjacent Piazza San Rocco, stands the small church of San Rocco. From here there are beautiful views looking over the Val di Comino.

The first war memorial to the Caduti di Casalvieri was erected in the years immediately following the Great War. The statue visible today was put in place in 1961 and was built with the contribution of private individuals.  On the base of the statue the names of the soldiers who died during the World War II are engraved together with the names of the civilians that died during the war.

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Lower Casalvieri

The territory of Casalvieri also includes the villages and hamlets of  Calone, Canala, Canalara, Caronte, Casale delle Mole, Casino Iacobelli, Catallo, Checle, Chierica- Iacuccio, Ciampiello, Colle Bandera, Colle Mosca, Conte, Fallena, Fallena-Tiscio, Frittata, Giuntura, Crotte dell’Acqua, Iacovelli, Iacuccio, Maola, Marchetta, Marrocco, Molè, Mole Nuove, Morina, Olive, Plauto, Pozzuoli, Purgatorio, Roselli, San Leoandro, San Pietro, Scioca, Serracina, Serravoglia, Sorelle, Tirlo, Tirlo Valloni, Tiscio, Togna, Tufo, Vallone, Valloni, Vitello, Volpone, Zagarino.

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The Museum

In Via Iacobelli is the town museum named the Museo Civico Padre Iacobelli, which bears the name of its founder.  This has many interesting exhibits such as fossils, votive objects, blocks of polygonal walls, as well as coins of the Roman Imperial and Republican eras that were discovered within the local territory of the Val di Comino.

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The Cultivation of Saffron

Casalvieri is known for its cultivation and production of the spice saffron. This is derived from the flower of Crocus sativus a small, bulbous, perennial  a member of the lily family. The saffron is taken from the stigmas (the part of the flower which catches pollen). The flowers are handpicked, and then carefully laid on a mesh and cured over heat to deepen the flavor – a labour intensive process which explains why saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.

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Balloons

Casalvieri is known around the world for its manufacture of rubber balloons. A young man named Angelo Rocco emigrated at a young age to Marseille in France, where he worked with his brother-in-law manufacturing handmade balloons. In 1902 he returned to his place of birth and set up his own business. The business grew and grew and became the first balloon factory in Italy. It went on to export balloons all over the world. The company now trades under the name of Gemar.

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My sincere thanks to the following photographers for kindly sharing their photos for these pages about Casalvieri:

Antonio Iacobelli, Emilia Trovini, Tonino Bernardelli, Lauro Apruzzese, Italo Caira and Giuseppe Massa.

My thanks also to Antonio Iacobelli of the Facebook Group Casalvieri e dintorni: angoli nascosti  for sharing his local knowledge.

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