Abbey of S. Vincenzo al Volturno

portico dei pellegrini abbazia nuova san vincenzo al volturno
“Portico dei Pellegrini”, new abbey of San Vincenzo al Volturno (photo: T. Evangelista).

The Abbey of San Vincenzo al Volturno is located in an enchanting place, near the sources of the Volturno river. Founded in the early years of the eighth century, in a strategic position in the geopolitical chess of the time, it was a rich and prestigious Benedictine religious center. It was one of the most important medieval monastic complexes in Europe, that lived his period of maximum splendor at the time of Charlemagne. At that time it housed 350 monks and had possessions and lands throughout central-southern Italy.

The monastic complex occupied a very large area and housed nine churches, the most important of which was the large church dedicated to San Vincenzo, the so-called basilica maior, one of the largest sacred buildings in Italy at the time. It had all the service facilities: the refectory, the kitchens, the warehouses, the workshops. Absolutely not to be missed is the visit of the crypt of the abbot Epifanio: his frescoes are among the most important evidence of early European painting.

In 881 the Saracens’ attack determined the abandonment of the glorious Carolingian monastery. However, at the end of the eleventh century, the monastic complex saw a new revival with the construction of a new abbey church on the other side of the river, a short distance from the ancient complex. The new church, known as the “New Abbey“, has undergone many restorations and reconstructions over the centuries and is still in use today. An evocative portico, called “Portico dei Pellegrini”, stands before it.