History of San Nicandro


See San Nicandro guide for highlights and historic monuments

The name of San Nicandro first appeared in a document dating back to 1095, published by Giovanni del Giudice:

“[...] In the name of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, in the year of its embodiment 1095, and in the 15th year of the government of our Lord and Emperor Alexius, in November, during the seventh Indiction, I, Henry, by God's grace Earl of Monte Sant'Angelo and son and heir of the late Earl Robert of good memory, I give the monastery of “San Giovanni in Lamis”, men and lands of our possessions, that are the towns of Riniano, Castel  Pagano and St. Nicandro" [1].

However San Nicandro dates back to a much older period, and it was a Norman hamlet in the 10th century; in fact, Pietro Ebner writes:

"we have some documents about the hamlet in Norman times. I found in the Angevin registry a testimony that shows the existence of the hamlet at that time. The document speaks about the succession in the domain of the hamlet of San Nicandro" [2].

Ebner also writes a very interesting note about San Nicandro:

"About the village we have a first document by Amato of Montecassino who points to the castle of St. Nicander as one of three castles conquered by the Normans of William 's Altavilla (1027-1080), when they decided to conquer the ‘Cilento’. About San Nicandro we have more documents in the Angevin registers. In 1270 the brothers Giannattasio di Calabritto  and Tipollio di Vollia, sons of the late Aldoino, succeeded his father in the domain of St. Nicandro (...)  In 1286 they were granted the castle of St. George and St. Nicandro" [3].

Identifying San Nicandro with ancient Merzadro

Some sources say that San Nicandro was formerly called "Mezardo" or "Castrum Mezardi":

"[...] The Byzantine emperor Constans II (630-668) destroyed it, reducing it to a big pile of ruins; but around the 8th century a group of monks who fled from the East following the iconoclastic persecution, chose Castle ‘Mezardo’ as suitable place to set their home and they built a church dedicated to St. Nicandro, the Bishop of Myra. San Nicander was renamed ‘Castrum Mezardi’ [...] ".

In this passage there are a few things that are wrong, and others that are doubtful. The name of the village, for example, which was not called "Mezardo", but "Me-r-zad-ro", and as regards the identification of "Merzadro" with San Nicandro, scholars have raised many doubts. Indeed Raffaele Licinio writes:

"[...] It is true that Constant II destroyed Lucera (...) and 'other towns in Apulia’. The exiles from Lucera moved to the Gargano, in San Nicandro, but according to an 'unproven' hypothesis, supported by G.A. Tozzi, [5]. Equally 'unprovable' is the thesis of a 'direct derivation' of St. Nicandro from the destruction of the nearby ‘Castel Merzadro’  (...) Almost all the towns in the Centre-North Apulia had claimed the' honor 'of being destroyed by the heretic Emperor (Constant II), often without any acknowledgment or documents [...]" [4].

Early history of San Nicandro

We can say with certainty that the town belonged to the Swabians during the centuries, after the Normans, then the Angevins, and above all to many feudal lords.

L. Giustiniani says that St. Nicandro (sometimes also called "San Licandro" in medieval documents) belonged to Nicholas Marra in 1464. The family of the Della Marra seems to have constructed the castle in 1464 on the ruins of the ancient Norman and Swabian fortifications.

San Nicondro was then sold to Antonello Picciolo, an adviser to King Frederick II, and in 1558 Alfonso Picciolo in turn sold it to Giovanni Francesco di Sangro [6]. In 1605 it became the property of the Caropreso family and in the 18th century it passed to the Cattaneo Earls.

See the guide for San Nicandro before your visit.

References

1. See the G. del Giudice, "Diplomatic Code of the Reign of Charles I and II", Naples, 1863, V, XIII

2. See Pietro Ebner, “Economia e Società nel Cilento medievale”["Economy and Society in Medieval Cilento ', Rome, Edizioni of History and Literature, 1979, Vol. I:  289

3. See P. Ebner, “Chiesa, Baroni e Popolo nel Cilento”" [“Church, Barons and People in the Cilento”], Rome, Edizioni of History and Literature, 1982, Vol. II:  534-535

4. See Raffaele Licinio, “Castelli Medievali, Puglia e Basilicata, Dai Normanni a Federico II e Carlo I d'Angiò”[" Medieval Castles, Puglia and Basilicata, from the Normans to Frederick II and Charles I of Anjou”], Dedalo, 1994:  26 footnote 33

5. “Il Castello e il Borgo di San Nicandro”, in “Atti dell'Istitituto di architettura militare”, III, 1933: 58-59

6. “Dizionario Geografico Ragionato del Regno di Napoli”, Naples, 1804, Volume 7: 200-201