Acerno (SA): A commune of Campania, in the province of Salerno.
Former Names (if any): anc. Acerronia; Acernum; Picentia
Region: Campania│ Province: Salerno.
Coordinates: Lat. 40°44’19” N/ Long. 15°3’28” E.
Location/Setting: Located 44 km ENE of Salerno. It is situated in the Monti Picentini, to the right of the river Tusciano. The economy is based largely on agriculture and forestry. It is a center for summer vacation homes. The commune’s territory contains forests of maple, oak, chestnut, alder, hazelnut, beech, holm oak, and linden trees. Part of the Comunità Montana Zona Monti Picentini. Part of the Regione Agraria n. 1 – Versante meridionale dei Picentini.
Alt.: 727 m.
Area: 72.43 km².
Pop. Density: /km².
Frazioni & Localities:
Tel. Prefix: 089
Name of Inhabitants: Acernesi.
Patron Saint(s): San Donato (Feast Day:).
Acerno was founded in ancient times by refugees from ancient Picentia, who, in c197 BC, lost their homes to the Romans during the 2nd Punic War. Called Acerronia (“acer”= maple, for the abundance of these trees in the area) and Picentia (Picenti = an ancient Italic people) in ancient times, the town sat along on the Via Populia in Roman times. The town was also known as Acernum.
Despite Acerno’s antiquity, its first historical mention appears in a document from 1027 preserved in the archives of the abbey of Cava di Tirreni. According to the Catalogo Baronum, in c1150 Acerno and Giffoni Sei Casali were inherited by Guido de Acerno from his father Tomrnaso. On August 17, 1245 Pope Innocent IV confirms to Filippo of Acerno the possession several fiefs including Acerno and Castronuovo. When Charles of Anjou granted his son, Charles, the title of Prince of Salerno (1271), one of the latter’s vassal barons was an Adenasius de Tarascono “castris Acerni ed Castellinovi.” On February 22, 1291, Prince Charles nominated Riccardo d’Aiello of Salerno balio of Giovanni of Acerno. Later, in 1298, Acerno came under the control of Ruggiero (Roger) di Lauria, the Grand Admiral of the Kingdom. Over the next couple of centuries, Acerno was dominated by several different lords including Guglielmo Vaccaro (1337), Roberto Grillo (1346), Francesco Guindazzo (1381), and Antonio de Muro (1445). In 1453, the fiefs of Acerno and Calabritto were inherited by “Herrichettus de Fusco”, from his brother “Panducius de Fusco”. In 1469, Troiano Santomango became lord of Acerno, Calabritto and Muro. On May 31, 1507 Octavio Colonna was granted the fiefs of Acerno and Calabritto, which were later, passed on to his son Marcello. When Marcello died in 1534, the fiefs of Acerno, Calabritto, and Rigalise were inherited by his son Camillo. The last of the Colonnas to hold Acerno and Calabritto was Pompeo who inherited them in 1558. In 1577, Pompeo sold Acerno and Calabritto for 30,500 ducats to Diomede della Cornia, marquis of Castiglione. His son, Ascanio, inherited the fiefs when Diomede died on October 2, 1596. Upon Ascanio’s death (August 12, 1605) the properties passed to his son, Fulvio. Fulvio held the fiefs until 1619 when he was allowed to sell them to Giovan Battista d’Aste for 39,000 ducats. They were, in turn, inherited by his son Carlo (1634) and grandson Maurizio (1648). The fiefs were again sold, this time to Girolamo d’Aquino (1659) and Antonio Tocco (1665). Antonio’s nephew, Carlo, inherited the properties in 1678. He sold Acerno and Calabritto to Nicola Gascon Y Altanas, Cavaliere of the Order of Alcantara on Aug 30, 1698. The latter was granted the title of Marquis but held the fiefs for only a very short time. The title and properties came into the possession of Antonio Gascon Y Vandeinde on November 24, 1698. His family remained lords of the towns until the death of Marquis Giuseppe Gascon in 1777. The lands came under direct Royal control for a few years until 1781when it was sold to Girolano Mascaro, Patrician of the city of Salerno and President of the Royal Chamber (Regia Camera). The elimination of feudalism in 1806 finally brought freedom to Acerno.
During the 12th century it became the seat of a diocese that, in 1818, came under the perpetual administration of the Archbishop of Salerno.
Damage was suffered from earthquakes in 1694, 1853, 1905, 1910, 1980, and 1984.
Points of Interest:
Churches (& other religious sites):
The principal monument is the Baroque Cathedral of S. Matteo, or S. Donato. Founded in 1444, it has undergone several reconstructions. There is an interesting campanile which combines several different styles. In the presbytery are four paintings of the Evangelists, created by Pallante in 1797.
Another interesting religious monument is the church of the Madonna delle Grazie.
Carnevale Picentino- August.
Sagra della castagna (Feast of the Chestnut)- 1st Sunday in November.