Welcome to the hidden gem of Somma Vesuviana, a charming town located in the Campania region of southern Italy. This town is often overlooked in favor of its more famous neighbors, but it boasts a rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and mouth-watering local cuisine that will leave you wanting more. Let’s dive into the many treasures of Somma Vesuviana and reveal why this enchanting destination should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
Before the Roman colonisation, the area of today’s Somma Vesuviana was probably inhabited by Italic peoples like Samnites and Oscans. Later it became a resort for rich patricians of Rome or for rich estate owners who built magnificent villas in the area. Excavations have shown that this north side of the Vesuvius volcano was equally as populated as the southern side where Pompeii and Herculaneum lie, but has not been paid as much attention by historians. The area was buried during the eruption of Vesuvius of 472 AD and not 79 AD (like that which buried Pompeii etc.), and so was part of the community that continued after the earlier eruption and recovered better than the territories to the south.
Somma Vesuviana is home to a large Roman villa, discovered in the 1930s in the frazione of Starza della Regina, and interpreted as that of emperor Augustus at Nola where he probably passed his last days of life. Among the vestiges at Somma then discovered was a majestic colonnade with arches oriented 12 m long, connected to wall decorated with three niches. Marble columns and capitals, mosaic floors, splendid fragments of statues depicting people with sumptuous robes, polychrome frescoes and coffered ceilings were discovered. In 2002 excavations on the villa started again. Part of the villa has been brought to light with its rich decoration.
The historic center and the surrounding area of Somma Vesuviana retain the appearance of the past. The city also has an archaeological site of interest. One of the most fascinating villages in Somma Vesuviana is Casamale, linked for years to the traditional and evocative Festa delle Lucerne, which takes place every 4 years, made up of picturesque views and perspective games, thanks to the presence of the lamps that in the historic center outline with touches of color and intense and warm brightness, corners and glimpses of alleys, highlighting the historical artistic and cultural heritage of Somma Vesuviana. The church of San Domenico is another must-visit attraction, built by King Charles II of Anjou in 1294, this church is steeped in history and tradition.
Culture and Traditions:
There are many traditions in Somma Vesuviana, but the most famous is the festival of the edge, which takes place every year on the Saturday after Easter and on May 3, with those who participate dividing into paranza and scaling the mountain. The Saturday after Easter is known as the Saturday of the fireworks, while May 3, also known as Three of the Cross, is the closing day of the festival. Another popular festival held every year in Somma Vesuviana is the Palio of Somma Vesuviana, organized by the Youth for a United World group, it is an artistic event based on the concept of rediscovering the popular values and traditions of a time of the country.
Somma Vesuviana is famous for its local cuisine and produces some of the best food in the region. The typical Campanian products of Somma Vesuviana include the yellow Vesuvius tomato, the Vesuvius apricot, the Monte cherry with a sour aftertaste, Vesuvius plums and Catalan grapes, sweet and with white flesh, a table grape only recently used also for winemaking. Be sure to try some of the local dishes like pasta e fagioli, a traditional pasta and bean soup, and the delicious pizza, which is topped with fresh local ingredients.
In conclusion, Somma Vesuviana is a hidden gem that should not be missed. With its rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and mouth-watering cuisine, it has something for everyone. So pack your bags and come discover the many treasures of Somma Vesuviana.