Located at the bottom of the slopes of the Lattari mountains, Gragnano is a municipality in the province of Naples, gateway to the Sorrento Peninsula and Amalfi Coast. The earliest settlements date back to Osco-Samnite populations, as revealed by the necropolis dating to the VII-VI century B.C. found in the district Madonna delle Grazie. After being destroyed by the troops of Sulla in 89 B.C., the territory was divided between the centurions and numerous "villae rusticae" were built, before being finally destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the neighboring populations and in particular the coastal ones, sheltered here to escape the incursions of Barbarians and Saracens. They built several fortresses in the X century, which were annexed to the Marine Republic of Amalfi, becoming the defensive outpost of the northern border of the Republic. It then became part of the Norman domain until it was ceded to the Principality of Salerno and later to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Between the XVI and the XVII centuries, Gragnano submitted a period of great economic prosperity, in conjunction with the construction of the first cereal grinding mills cereals and the first industrial production of "pasta", that until that moment has only a household tradition. Gragnano is today known World-wide with the nickname "city of the pasta", as demonstrated by the large industrial and artisanal presence of pasta makers in the area. Other gastronomic products of excellence are: the Provolone del Monaco (symbol of identity and territorial belonging, a delicatessens fond to its emigrants, who would bring it with them when traveling overseas) and the excellent red wine Gragnano DOC.
The name of the town derives from "gens Grania", a family of Roman nobles who had several possessions in the area.
Not to miss:
- the Collegiate Church of Corpus Christi, dating back to 1555 and later remodeled in Baroque style. Flanked by a beautiful Bell Tower in Romanesque style, inside are kept numerous art works, such as the beautiful canvas of Francis M. Russo, one of the largest in size in whole Europe (about 400sqm), located on the ceiling of the nave;
- the Church of the Carmine, built in the early XVI century, preceded by a wooded area. The altar is surmounted by a shrine in Rococo style;
- the Church of St. John the Baptist, built in the XVI century where once stood the ancient Church of San Sebastian. It is flanked by an imposing XIX century belfry with three overlapping orders;
- the Church of St. Augustine, built between the XIII and XIV centuries;
- the Church of St. Nicholas of Miri, built in the XIV century by Angelo Miro, a famous exponent of one of the noblest families of the area;
- the Church of Santa Maria ad nives, built in the XVI century on the ruins of an ancient chapel;
- the Church of the Assumption, preceded by an impressive staircase and flanked by a Romanesque Bell-tower, that features two rows of mullioned windows. The interior is divided into three naves by Roman columns retrieved in various excavations in the nearby area;
- the Church of the Incoronata in the district of Pozzale;
- the numerous, still active, pasta factories;
- the remains of the "villae rusticae;
- the Mill Valley, famous not only for its natural environment, but also for the large amount of water that encouraged through the centuries, before the invention of electricity, the building and the activity of mills.