advertisement

Enjoying an ideal position high up the mountain overlooking Capua and with a view that, on clear days, stretches all the way to Ischia, this basilica was built over the ruins of the Temple of Diana Tifatina, the most important pre-Christian sanctuary in this region. Turned into a church sometime before the 10th century, it was then bequeathed to the nearby monastery of Montecassino. Its abbot, Desiderio of Montecassino, decided to establish the sanctuary as an important religious site, and had the basilica completely rebuilt in 1073. Note how the lateral arches in the portico in front of the church are pointed arches typical of Islamic architecture. Under the portico you will see the first series of frescoes, with a wonderful Saint Michael from the 11th century, and others from the 12th and 13th centuries. Inside, the basilica is divided into three naves by 14 columns topped with beautiful antique Corinthian capitals. The greatest attraction is really the frescoes that were painted by local art students. Along the sides of the central nave is the cycle depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, and on the inner facade is the Last Judgment. Little remains of the 11th-century mosaic floor -- you'll see some at the end of the right nave -- and parts of the marble floor are original to the temple of Diana (dated by an inscription from 74 B.C.).