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Genzano di Lucania history

Updated on May 21, 2019

Story of Yens and San, founder of Genzano

This is an aerial photo of old Genzano town, every town has a history of its own, it is believed that the name of Genzano has come from the names of the two lovers put together.
This is an aerial photo of old Genzano town, every town has a history of its own, it is believed that the name of Genzano has come from the names of the two lovers put together. | Source
Everywhere you go there is a story of love that is able to change things while it is happening; or it might be the other way around while something is happening there is a story of love, so writers mix the two together to make the story interesting.
Everywhere you go there is a story of love that is able to change things while it is happening; or it might be the other way around while something is happening there is a story of love, so writers mix the two together to make the story interesting. | Source
The story of love of Anthony and Cleopatra is ancient history. After winning the war in Egypt, Anthony fell in love with Cleopatra and turned against Rome his own country. Another example of love power, we can certaily say here.
The story of love of Anthony and Cleopatra is ancient history. After winning the war in Egypt, Anthony fell in love with Cleopatra and turned against Rome his own country. Another example of love power, we can certaily say here. | Source
This sculpture seems cold but at the same time beautiful, as it conveys love between a man and a woman, it also seems very ancient. Could this be like our ancient Yens and San that fell in love and from their love and union Genzano town was born.
This sculpture seems cold but at the same time beautiful, as it conveys love between a man and a woman, it also seems very ancient. Could this be like our ancient Yens and San that fell in love and from their love and union Genzano town was born. | Source

Genzano di Lucania history, as we know it

Welcome to our article (22), Genzano history as we know it:

This article is being written mainly for the people that come from Genzano di Lucania, since they can visualise and remember what we are going to talk about, I know this because I have come from this town and today I want to write a few things about my native town. I am going to write this article just the way I know and remember it.

Anyhow, one of the first things that come to my mind, is my teacher, because when I was at school in Genzano di Lucania, my teacher (Ettore Lorito) was writing a book about Genzano di Lucania, So, I wish I had this book with me, but I don’t, so, I am to say only those things that I remember.

((Now, if you are an Italian, I can navigate you to the link of Ettore-Lorito writings about Genzano: Go to my blog, http://genzanoit.blogspot.com/, on the left there is a column with links, near the top is, Genzano in italiano (1) click on it, go down the page and click on Scrittori e poeti, click on Ettore Lorito, now that you are on Ettore Lorito site choose what you want to read.))

So, let us begin our story; how the town of Genzano came into existence, we don’t know, because there isn’t any written history about it. So, we will start, with what most people believe today, which is a folklore story that has been passed down from previous generations. Anyhow, most people today believe that it was a queen of Monteserico that was the real founder of modern Genzano, but there are other stories as well. Anyhow, we are going to talk about this queen of Monteserico later. Because there are other ancient stories that go around, one of these stories tells us that there was a youth called Yens, he was an excellent flute player, he fell in love with a princes called San who also fell in love with him; because they loved each other one day this princess San ran away from home and she joined Yens and Yens family, who were living in Genzano territory; in the caves in the chasm below the future Genzano of today.

Knowing that this girl was a real princess, Yens and his family decided to give her a better place to live in, so, they started to build something fit for a princess on the hill above the caves. This is how Genzano started the very first time and the name of Genzano is the name of the two lovers put together (Yens-San), anyhow, this is how I know this story. We believe that we have mentioned this in another article; The heritage chapter, of course, there are other stories as well, even if what we are going to say next may contradict what we have written above.

Genzano Corso and the town hall below

This is Genzano corso, one of the main street of this town, in this photo it seems deserted, but it is one of the main street of Genzano, where today people stroll up and down all dressed up usually on Sunday afternoon and feast days.
This is Genzano corso, one of the main street of this town, in this photo it seems deserted, but it is one of the main street of Genzano, where today people stroll up and down all dressed up usually on Sunday afternoon and feast days. | Source
This is another old Genzano castle, and today is being used for other purposes and Town Hall.
This is another old Genzano castle, and today is being used for other purposes and Town Hall. | Source

Some Genzano written history

Now, let us see what else we can say about Genzano history; there is no certainty about the following, because the origins of places are hard to know, but what follow here is a compact history of Genzano di Lucania.

Some historians say that the Romans started Genzano town about the VI century BC when they had this ‘Pagus Gentianum settlement to control this part of their territories. Now let us talk about what a recent writer has discovered in the archive of Potenza; one of the first times that Genzano is mentioned in the archives is that of two brothers Secondo and Donato; in the year 258 AD, they were beheaded in Genzano ordered from council Valeriano, which I guess was a Roman council for that part of Italy.

Another one of the earliest and first written stories about Genzano, goes back to Roman times again, or about when the Roman Empire started to crumble.

The Western Roman Empirecollapsed in 476 as Romulus Augustus was forced to abdicate to the Germanic warlord Odoacer.

But even before the Roman Empire collapsed there is an event somewhere in the Roman history where they talk about a Genzano town, I assume that they are talking about Genzano di Lucania. This event has been mentioned in The heritage chapter. This seems to be the oldest written record found about Genzano history.

So, let us go back to talk about Genzano of today. As we want to keep this article compact, we jump several centuries. Next most important historic event is the Normans in Italy, this part of Italy was under the Normans control for a while and they ran most of their conquest from the castle of Monteserico, one of the Normans leaders was Roberto il Guiscardo; Anyhow after the Normans this part of the country passed several other owners, as it was used in the old system of feudality; this lasted until the year 1806 when the king of Naples Giuseppe Bonaparte, abrogated feudality.

There is a lot more that could be said, there are a couple of photos about Genzano the way we remember, and it is today, but if you want to know more about Genzano, click on the link below.

www.comune.genzano.pz.it/

There are many stories about Genzano; some of these stories we have written here-under.

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Saint Anthony protector of Genzano town

As we know most towns in the world have a protector or patron. So, let us tell you about Genzano di Lucania protector; this story about Genzano protector; may well be after the time when the Roman Empire collapsed: And this story that we are telling you here is about St. Antonio Abate, who is still today the patron saint of Genzano, this story goes back to the fifth century AD or there about, Genzano town already existed then, as we have proof in the archive of Potenza that two martyrs were executed in Genzano in the year 258 AD.

Anyhow, there was a war going on at that time. The town of Genzano made resistance to the enemy aggression and its demands, so, it was put under siege. The enemy was furious and was going to destroy Genzano. They set their war machines ready for tomorrow to begin the assault of Genzano and destroy it. The town of Genzano was in grave danger, but that night the weather rained, snowed and became bitterly cold, it was so cold that froze everything stiff, so cold and frozen were the war machines that they could not be used or even moved, and the weather was cold for a very long time afterward, until the enemy became tired and left; and that’s how Genzano was saved from destruction. The day that this event happened was on the 17th day of January, which is the day of St. Antonio Abate according to the Roman Catholic calendar. See what I found on the Internet about this great saint:

Anthony the Great or Antony the Great (c. 251–356), (CopticⲀⲃⲃⲁⲀⲛⲧⲱⲛⲓ), also known as Saint Anthony, Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of Egypt,Anthony of the Desert,Anthony the Anchorite, Abba Antonius (Ἀββᾶς Ἀντώνιος), andFather of All Monks, was a Christiansaint from Egypt, a prominent leader among the Desert Fathers. He is celebrated in many churches on his feast days: 30 January in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church; 17 January in the Roman Catholic Church and the Coptic Catholic Church.

The biography of Anthony's life by Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread the concept of monasticism, particularly in Western Europe through Latin translations.

Anthony is appealed to against infectious diseases, particularly skin diseases. "Saint Anthony's fire" has described different afflictions including ergotism,erysipelas and shingles.

End of Internet report about Saint Anthony.

Now that we have explained who was this great Saint Anthony, let us tell you how the story goes: The folks of Genzano believe that this incredible happening of cold weather was due to divine intervention through St. Antonio Abate: And this is the reason why St. Antonio Abate was made Patron Saint and protector of Genzano; this belief about Saint Anthony has lasted to the present time; so, even today when there is a problem in this town, let us say it has not rained for a long time, so, rain is needed for the fields to grow, the priest and the people soon take Sant’Antonio out in a procession through the town and into the country, in the hope that Sant’Antonio will help to make it rain. This is how the people of Genzano venerate this great Saint Anthony.

Now let us go back to Genzano history, for a very long time after this happening there is no written history about Genzano, therefore, nobody knows what happened. History seems to slowly restart at the beginning of the second millennium, see our next story. The Normans in Italy

Monteserico Norman castle and others norman things

This is the castle of Monteserico that the Norman used to dominate in this part of italy.
This is the castle of Monteserico that the Norman used to dominate in this part of italy.
The Normans in battle dress
The Normans in battle dress
Norman castle in southern Italy Palermo, today called Palazzo dei Normanni
Norman castle in southern Italy Palermo, today called Palazzo dei Normanni

The Normans in Italy

The history of Genzano Menteserico castle and the Normans as we understand it.

Now, let me start with a personal story, this story bridges history itself and explains things that I did not know before. Since I came to Australia, I have worked in the building industry where I met this Frenchmen called Luis, we knew each other well. Luis came to Australia when France left Algeria and the army of Algeria was dismantled, Luis was a captain in the army, so, he had learned many things including army history.

Anyhow, one day I was looking on the TV at the Tour of France, this stage was run in Normandy, so while I was looking at the country side I saw this castle in the background, which I could have sworn that it was exactly the same as the castle that I had been seeing thousands of times from my farm in southern Italy. So, next time when I met Luis, I asked him about it and surprise, surprise no sooner I mentioned the castle of Monteserico that he knew all about it, so he explained to me.

The Normans have only built two castles one in France and another in southern Italy, and from this castle of Monteserico they dominated all their conquests of southern Italy. So, here is the proof that Luis gave me, which is that the castle of Monteserico has been built from the Normans; but I was wandering whether it could be true.

Luis story only shows us that this castle of Monteserico has been used from the Normans, because there are other stories about its origin; in fact there is even a story that this castle could have been built from a Roman family to run the surrounding countryside, or it might have been built as a monastery in the beginning of the Christian Era, and then went through several changes and owners that used it in different ways. It was built above caves where indigenous people used to live a very long time ago.

Anyhow the fact remains that the Norman really had possessed the castle of Monteserico, because history shows us that in the X or XI century there indeed was a great battle around this castle won by the Norman, therefore, the Normans used this castle to dominate their conquests in southern Italy. To see more click on links below;

Normans - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here we can add this link, about this castle of Monteserico and about Genzano history, it is a site created years ago from this Architect of Genzano, C. Pietrapertosa, (it is written in Italian)

Arch. Pietrapertosa - Storia e dintorni - Genzano di Lucania,

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Now let us talk about the modern Genzano. They started to rebuild the modern Genzano of today, about the twelfth or the thirteen centuries. The folklore story says that in this castle of Monteserico that the Norman had used, this castle is about fifteen kilometres East-Southeast of Genzano. This is an old castle built or modified from the Norman’s or somebody after the fall of the Roman Empire when they overrun Italy. They say that a long time ago there was a small town around the castle, but today there is no evidence of it and no real history when it cessed to exist. All we know is that today near this castle there is a small chapel. Anyhow when the Norman domination came to an end, it was owned from other important people and one day there was this Spanish Princes called Aquilina Sancia, that one day would become the new founder of Genzano town, the people of Genzano feel grateful towards her, and most people that don’t know the entire history think that Aquilina Sancia is the founder of Genzano.

--------------------------------------------

Castle of Monteserico church

This small church is near the castle of Monteserico it comes with other photo of the castle, but I don't know if it is going to show the other photos by clicking on it.
This small church is near the castle of Monteserico it comes with other photo of the castle, but I don't know if it is going to show the other photos by clicking on it.

Aquilina Sancia queen of Monteserico

The story and folklore of Genzano says that it was Aquilina Sancia, who happened to own the castle of Monteserico at the time when Genzano needed help to restart again. Anyhow, this princess in the early 14 century she helped Genzano town restart. Aquilina Sancia some people say is a Spanish Princess, other people say that this Aquilina Sancia was indeed a Spanish princess, but she had to do something with the Sforza family and she was a queen. But, anyhow this castle of Monteserico that we are talking about, at that time was owned by this rich and powerful family and queen named ‘Aquilina Sancia’ who lived in this castle, which is a solid coarse fortress built on a treeless roundish hill with extensive views of the countryside.

We assume at that time were mostly grazing lands, with sheep shepherds and some other livestock, and some wheat farming in a small way? So, it would have been ideal for a queen to get away from it all, and still feel safe in that small fortress.

Anyhow, this Aquilina Sancia Queen of Monteserico, while she was living in this castle, she liked to travel in her stagecoach or on horseback between Monte-serico castle and the new Genzano of those times, Genzano was then only a small town but she liked it, so, she helped it to become it a real town. The folklore story goes that she used a secret tunnel, or a secret way between these two places, because no one could understand how she could manage to travel without being seen, because, while she was thought to be in Monte-Serico castle, suddenly she would appear in Genzano without seeing her coming or going. She must have been very rich because it is said that, she hid a treasure that to these days has not been found, and the most valuable items consist of a ‘Gold Mother Hen with Chicks’ which has been hidden somewhere in Monte-Serico castle or in the secret tunnels or there about.

To me all those hidden riches and the large secret tunnel that she could run in with her stagecoach is all folklore fantasy. But perhaps there was a small tunnel in Monte-serico castle and one in Genzano small castle that she turned into a monastery, this could allow her to come and go without being seen. In theory it was possible that she could drive her stagecoach in one of the caves in the chasm bellow the monastery, and from there through a small tunnel find the way into the monastery above. Therefore, there may be some truth about the tunnel story.

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From the caves to modern Genzano

Some of the caves in Genzano territory, in the beginning people used to live in the caves when the world was young.
Some of the caves in Genzano territory, in the beginning people used to live in the caves when the world was young.
A main street in Genzano with lights arch used during a feast.
A main street in Genzano with lights arch used during a feast.

How the modern Genzano came into being

Even today the people believe that this queen of Monteserico, built a monastery where an old building was, this old building could have been the house of Yens and Princess San; anyhow because of this monastery the people in the country started moving back in the new town of Genzano, this is how the modern town of Genzano was found and she was loved from building this monastery. It is said that in her old age she moved in this monastery and died there. She wrote her will in the year 1327 before she passed away.

But let us tell the story as we see it; we can imagine that the people of those times loved this Queen, because of the good turn she gave the folks of the new Genzano; since we can say that she was the founder of the new Genzano, because she built the first church in Genzano called ‘L’Annunziata’ together with a rich monastery, the order of ‘The Sacred Nuns’ which has lasted up to 1905 the early part of the twentieth century. In those times, the building of the church and the monastery brought a change of life to those people that were living in the caves of the chasm and in the fields, because; after that church building they started to build more houses near their church and monastery, and slowly Genzano became a real town.

The reason why people left the caves and came to live into town is not clear, the reasons that they left the houses in the fields was there was malaria associated with this sort of living.

But in moving to town they set a new way of life that would split the community in two, because the man folks had to stay put in the fields to look after their flocks, and whatever else they had to do to earn a living, either in the caves or in the working fields; while the rest of the community would live in town. So, from that time onward there were town’s people and country people belonging to the same town, which is a typical way of life of the rural towns of Southern Italy.

After most of the cave people moved to live into town, the caves became partly empty. But by now the inhabitant of the caves new that those caves, were ideal to make wine in them, since they have a constant cool temperature throughout the year, therefore, the wine keep well for a long time, and since then they have made their wines in those caves.

Looking at the caves when I was young, you would be amazed to see when they make their wines, and indeed it is an interesting thing to see, if you happen to be there at the time when they harvest their grapes and they make their wines. Because the chasm and its caves becomes alive in its own archaic ways, see our article, Wine making the old ways I think we have said enough in this article, so, I say see you in our next article, The town I came from. See you soon.

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    • F-Menchise profile imageAUTHOR

      F-Menchise 

      5 years ago from Brisbane Australia

      Good for you to visit your grandparent town, I wish I could do that too, but it does not seem likely that I could do that. Anyhow it would be interesting to know who your grandparents were and where you are living now, you see I come from Genzano and I have got some cousins in Genzano that are LaGinestra, I wonder if you are related to them at all; they are the children of Ambrosio LaGinestra and Marietta Menchise, their names are, Michele, Carmela e Giuseppina, they should be near seventy years old now.

      Hope to hear from you again;

      Wish you all the best

      Francesco Menchise

    • profile image

      Michael LaGinestra 

      5 years ago

      My grandparents lived there and I just visited there two days ago.

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