Monte San Giovanni Campano is a small town with thirteen thousand
inhabitants. It situated in the south of Lazio, an ancient land called
Ciociaria, and it is 90 km south of Rome and 120 km north
Its geographical position, midway between the two cities (Rome was the capital of the Papal States, Naples was the capital of the Naples States) supported and determined the story of our city. It was especially during the Middle Ages that it developed along the slopes of a rocky hill 420 metres high a.s.l.
Powerful walls surround this ancient city (called Castelforte in the 8th century and then Monte San Giovanni) and there are left three of the five entrance doors in strategic positions. The stately castle (11th century) of the d'Aquino’s Counts dominates the city. In the 15th century the d'Avalos family inherited it, then it became property of the Colonna family and, from hand to hand, it finally came to the Mancini noble family.
The city and its castle (never conquered until 1495) were damaged during the military invasion of Charles VIII' s army, king of France. Over the centuries the castle gave hospitality to Popes and dignitaries who choose this city known as a healthy, safe and peaceful place. As a young boy Thomas Aquinas was imprisoned in the castle for two years.
The town, which leads off from the castle, winds along the lanes radiating off downhill. It has the typical urbis shape and it has old churches, which are considered as an architectural surprise. We can mention the Latin cross Collegiate church, typical of the Bramante school, dedicated to Our Lady of Suffrage; the Greek cross St. Peter’s church outside the walls dating back the 12th century; the sixteenth century Saint Mary’s church; and Saint Rocco’s church which was in origin the outside tower of the castle dating back the 12th century.
Other noteworthy churches are Saint Margherita’s church, with a Romanesque bell tower in part bricked in, Saint Luigi Gonzaga’s church (a private church which belonged to the De Mattia family); Saint Anna’s church situated inside the XVI century former city hospital); Saint Thomas Aquinas' beautiful chapel inside the castle.
Less than a kilometre far from Monte San Giovanni Campano Vittoria Colonna commissioned a Capuchin monastery where Felice from Cantalice, the first Capuchin Saint, lived in. The monastery has recently been questionably restored. Not far from the monastery there is the Abbey of Casamari and at some distance the Chartreuse of Trisulti.