BELCASTRO

Belcastro has ancient and uncertain origins. It was proposed as the birthplace of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The ruined 14th century ancient castle of the Counts of Aquino dominates the village and its enchanting old center. Belcastro settlement has the peculiarities of a Medieval feud and is situated on a woody spur at the foot of the castle; typical narrow streets alternate with newly built areas. The spur is crowned by the Norman-style castle that belonged to the counts of Aquino and that some propose as the birthplace of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The village is surrounded by olive groves giving fruit which is made into top quality olive oil. Belcastro lies on the south-eastern slopes of the Sila Piccola towards the Ionian coast, and you can go to the seaside or the mountains in a few minutes. In a half an hour by car you can reach famous seaside resorts like Capo Rizzuto and Le Castella, in Crotone Province, and Catanzaro Lido, Copanello Soverato and the Archaeological Park of Scolacium on the other side. It takes you the same time to go to Sila Piccola mountains. The valley of Nasari, a tributary of the Crocchio river, lies on the left side of the village: it is the most fascinating and uncontaminated natural site of the area.




 


Address Piazza S. Tommaso d’Aquino
  88050 Belcastro (CS)
Phone number 0961 932090
Fax 0961 932189
Website http://www.comune.belcastro.cz.it/
 

 

The origins of Belcastro are very ancient, from the Neolithic, to the Oenotrian period to the Magna Graecia Age. Once a feud of the Aquino family, in 1300 Robert d’Anjou named it Bellocastrum for the beauty of the surroundings. The Church of Pietà keeps a Greek wooden Icon of Venetian-Cretan school representing the Madonna with Child, a Byzantine work (1000-1200), and three baroque sculptures representing Annunciation with the Archangel Gabriel, Saint Anne and the Almighty. The façade with the 15th century tuff lancet-arch door deserves to be seen. The Church of San Rocco, built in 1645, has a rectangular stone door with columns, the work of 17th century local stonemasons. It was subject to many interventions, and during the 1948 restoration, the main façade was re-plastered. The imposing Palazzo Poerio, from the name of last feudatory lord, was actually built by the Dukes of Sersale, and it is commonly called Palazzo Cirillo. It was erected by the Duke Francesco Sersale in 1645 after the earthquake that, in the same year, destroyed most of the town and the castle, causing 61 victims. On the outside, the building presents an arched main door with an architrave on top, two side columns, rectangular stone bordered windows and a dentil cornice. The tuff side façade has a Renaissance balcony probably taken from the ruined castle. In the inside, there is an arched stone staircase. Finally, the old area of the Castellaci district is worth a visit.

Remains of the Byzantine castle on the Timpe hill are still visible, including the entry tower, probably reconstructed during the Middle Age, and ruins of the surrounding walls. On the opposite cliff, the recently restored Medieval castle of the Counts of Aquino stands, with the imposing four-sided three-story fortified tower. The rests of the surrounding walls with quadrangular, cylindrical and semicircular turrets (13th-15th century remains) sketch the castle layout. The Chapel, built on the remains of the room where Saint Thomas Aquinas was possibly born, are of remarkable interest. The castle court also contained the hexagonal stone water well, with sculpted 15th century coat of arms, that was moved to the former cathedral and used as the baptismal font.



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