Spigno Saturnia in South Lazio Italy

The town of Spigno Saturnia takes its name from two types of thorny trees which thrive in this area – the hawthorn and the wild plum. Their spiky branches, known locally as spignesi, were traditionally used to reinforce fences or pens.

Spigno is backed by the mountainous  terrain of the Aurunci Natural Park. The tallest mountain peaks are: Monte Petrella (1533 metres), Monte Sant’Angelo (1404 metres), Monte Forte (1321 metres) and Mount Strampaduro.  There are many paths through the park which is popular with hikers and mountain bikers.

There are several underground rivers and reservoirs in the area, particularly at  Capodacqua. The ingenious Romans tapped into these water supplies and built an impressive aqueduct during the reign of Emperor Tito Favio Vespasiano, which served the town of Minturnae.

Local shepherds formed some early settlements at Campovivo, Campola, San Giovanni Aracoeli, Casarini, Colle di Teti. Near Campovivo are the remains of an ancient polygonal wall.

Spigno is made up of two main districts, Spigno Saturnia Superiore and Spigno Saturnia Inferiore.

Spigno Saturnia Superiore

The higher part of Spigno is, sometimes also known as Spigno Vecchio. It is the original village, sited on a rocky spur at a height of 375 metres and  has magnificent views of the Gulf of Gaeta and the Valle dell’Ausente below. Across the valley you can see numerous marble quarries.

View from Spigno Saturnia in South Lazio Italy
View from Spigno Saturnia Superiore in South Lazio Italy
View from Spigno Saturnia Superiore in South Lazio Italy

The town was recorded in an ancient document, the Codex Diplomaticus Cajetanus in  the year 999. The town was governed for a time by Montecassino. It was  conquered by the Normans who in approximately 1000 AD built a formidable stone fortress named Castrum Spinei. This was surrounded by walls and guarded by a tall square tower, some smaller towers and turrets.

Spigno Saturnia in South Lazio Italy
Spigno Saturnia in South Lazio Italy
Spigno Saturnia in South Lazio Italy

Spigno was then ruled by the Caetani family, then ownership was passed to the Colonna family and finally to the Carafa family.  In 1806 the castle became private property but was sadly left to crumble.

Following the Unification of Italy the town had “Saturnia”, an ancient poetic name of Italy, attached to its name, so as to distinguish it from other towns which bore the a similar name.

Tower of the Castle of Spigno Saturnia Italy
War Memorial in the town of Spigno Saturnia Italy

During The Second World War

Being situated on the Gustav Line in a position of strategic importance it was subjected to violent raids by the German army, also heavy and prolonged  bombing by the Allies, which resulted in numerous civilian casualties and virtually the total destruction of the town.  The people suffered great hardship and suffering, they were forced to abandon their homes and belongings and find refuge in the mountains.

In 1944 the square tower was destroyed by German troops, so today only two cylindrical towers remain.

Spigno Saturnia was awarded the Medaglia D’Argento al Gonfalone for its sacrifice and patriotism during World War II.

The newer part of the territory, Spigno Saturnia Inferiore,  sprawls out on to the lower plain, built following the war.

Churches of Spigno Saturnia

 The town’s Patron Saint is San Giovanni Battista.

The modern church dedicated to San Giovanni Battista was built in memory of  the 14th century church which was completely destroyed during the war.

The Church of Santa Croce, 14th century, enlarged in the 18th century and restored after the war.

The Church of San Lorenzo. In the crypt there are traces of frescoes probably of the Benedictine School.

The Chiesa di San Gerardo. A small country church with a bell tower, built around the end of the 17th century.
It is situated near the water source of Capodacqua.

Many of  Spigno Saturnia’s citizens emigrated to Morningside, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where there is a Spigno Saturnia Italo-American Society. Some of the towns people emigrated to Argentina.

Spigno Saturnia’s Feast Days and Events

1 May – Giro delle Contrade

July – International Folk Festival held in Piazza San Giovanni of Spigno Saturnia Superiore,
where you can sample local dishes and produce and see local traditional crafts.

Last weekend in July – Festival of Tripe and Beans

October –  Sagra delle Castagne, and “Zeppole Spignesi” (a type of doughnut)

Surnames of Spigno Saturnia

COCOMELLO

GIARNELLA, GIONTA

LA  SERRA

MALLOZZI

OREGRA

PAMPENA, PIROLLO

SANTILLI,  SIMEONE

TAMBURINNO, TEDESCO

VENTO

ZANGRILLI, ZAVOLTA,  ZOTTOLA

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