The territory of Sanza is the 3rd largest in the Province of Salerno, and located at the easternmost part of Cilento; though the inhabitated area isn’t very large, and is considered the linking point between the areas of Gulf of Policastro and Vallo di Diano, located on the Cervati mountain, the tallest mountains of Region Campania.
The great permeability of the soil, due to existing karstic phenomenon, make the entire area of Cervati a very important hydrogeographic basin from which start river of great importance, like Bussento, Mingardo and Calore; the landscape looks also modeled by the karstic shapes, its main geological characteristics, like the big holes excavated by the streams in constant flood and by the numerous water springs.
This geo-morphological aspect can be found in the area of the Mount Cervati, especially in the area of the “Grava of Festolaro” and the Sinkhole of Vallevona; the latter, is accessible by an artificial tunnel excavated in the mountain and has an interesting characteristic; the hot and humid ambient created inside the sinkhole is like a self-existing microclimate, at more than 1000mt above sea level, where plants and animals which shouldn’t live at certain altitudes are instead there to be seen; moreover, the presence of steep rockwalls and waterfalls make of this ambient a very beautiful and unmissable one.
Few meters below (approx. 909mt above sea level), there is the spring of Varco La Peta, where River Bussento originates, the only karstic river which runs entirely in Italian territory; the river flows in Sanza before emerge into the Gulf of Policastro, not before create another karstic phenomenon, sinking in the territory of Caselle in Pittari and re-emerge in the WWF Oasi of Morigerati.
Karsism is present also in other areas of Vallo di Diano (like Pertosa Caves), and more in general in Southern Italy.
Ancient and Roman era
Sanza, even before the roman era, has always been a strategic location for trades, like for example the old caravan road of salt, which connected the coastline with the Vallo di Diano.
Among the first historical proofs, there is the contribute of the roman naturalists of the 1st century BC Plinio il Vecchio, whom in the “Naturalis Historia” mentioned the population of “Sontini”, as part of the confederation of lucan origin people; it makes us believe that the ancient name of Sanza was Sontia, and the inhabitated area was in the today’s Contrada Agno, where in the past decades many objects, tombstones and tools of roman era have been found.
During the 2nd century BC, the old caravan road of salt was improved and connected to the Popilia-Annia road, which connected Capua to Reggio Calabria, passing through the Vallo di Diano;
Sontini people never had a good relationship with the Roman dominators; were infact among the firsts to join the army organized against the Romans during the Punic wars, as well as the Social War of the 1st century BC, showing then a long-lasting unsatisfaction with regards to the Roman command, which in return destroyed the city multiple times during their domination on Sontia.
During the first century AD, the population of Sontia moved quickly from the flat lands to the hillside, where the current Sanza is located, also due to the Roman raids and some periods of plague which devastated the surrounding areas.
From 1811 until 1860, Sanza was administrative center of the namesake district, part of the district of Sala, during the Reign of Two Sicilies, same as under the Reign of Italy, from 1861 until 1927.
Monuments and Places to visit
- Grava del Festolaro and Sinkhole of Vallevona: it’s a semi-circular and vertical hole in the land made by the karstic erosion, of 90mt of depth and 50mt of width which shrinks more in-depth alimenting a seasonal lake
- Lago area: where there are three sinkholes, of which the most important is the one of Rio Torto, 30mt of depth.
- Nevara: hole used to collect the snow during the Bourbon reign, to make summer sorbets.
- Ponte l’Abate area: characterised by a medieval bridge used to connect Sanza and Caselle in Pittari, as well as the municipal mill, which is still visible today, and that was alimented by the waters of river Bussento.
- Ruins of St.Peter’s Abbey: of the older abbey church, different from the 18th century one located steps away, there are only rests of a sail-shaped bell tower and some archs.
- Chapel of the “Virgin of the Snow”: the simple structure is made of two areas, an internal of medieval origins, and a later one, probably from 18th century. Closeby there is a cave with an old altar dedicated to the Virgin.
- Church of the “Assunta”: beautiful is the main entrance, made of Padula stone, the most used local material for the important buildings of the area; the wooden Cross on the major altar is the most precious sculpture, considered one of the most important artworks in the area.
- Chapel of St.Anthony: characterised by a wooden statue of St.Anthony, located close to the altar, and made by the local artist Sabino Peluso
- Bell tower of St.Martin: built in the 15th century, as reported on one of the two bells.
- Church of St.Francis of Assisi: the building conserves a nice portal dated 1610; of the old artworks, the church still hosts a painting of the 18th century and a wooden statue of St.Pasquale Bailon made in 1749.
- Chapel of St.Vito: to be considered the presence of a great altar in Padula stone of late-baroque style, and the wooden statue of St.Vito.
- Baronial Palace and Bonomo Palace
- Statue of Carlo Pisacane
Strada statale 517 Bussentina.
Strada Statale 517var Strada statale 517 var Bussentina: Uscita Sanza.
Strada Provinciale 18 Strada Provinciale 18/b Rofrano-Sanza.
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