Following the river Sabato, just few kilometers before the city of Benevento, the careful observer cannot escape that, on the left, on a mid-mountain, an extremity of the Partenio stands the imposing castle of Ceppaloni, of Lombard origins and perhaps the ancient fortress of the Sunnis.
From this point onwards, you enter the charming Valley of the river Sabato, a semi-corrugated plain, crossed by some traces of the ancient Via Aquilia, which was inserted on the Via Appia near Porta Aurea of Benevento which led to Salerno.
In this territory there are names of places characterised by an old and modulated sound, some of which are very well known or partially forgotten.
The writer Mario Soldati was right when he wrote that there is some magic in the names of our villages, of our districts: Rotula is one of them.
The whole area is ancient and not just for the names. It is ancient because it is rich in legends, some of which have travelled all over the world.
In fact, the writer Guido Piovene, in his book “Viaggio in Italia”, in the notes dedicated to Benevento, he says that he had visited the “Stretto di Barba”. This is what he recounts: “I went myself to the “throat of the witches”, where the river Sabato flows between narrow cliffs. It was a beautiful night, cold and silent under the full moon.”
As far as we know, the area Rotula is mentioned several times in some original parchments in Benevento writing, dating around the year one thousand and preserved in the Archives of Montevergine.
In the most ancient parchment, which dates back to 1025, we find mentioned the area Rotula for the first time, in the matter of a division of a property (Memoratorium).
A certain Ilderado agrees with the brother Rodenando and an uncle named Aldemaro for the division of a site “de loco Rotule” which boundaries touched some vineyards and the “Via publica maiore”, which from Benevento led to Avellino.
What is most interesting– reading the bottom of the parchment – beyond the notarial acts between people of whom we ignore everything, because they belong to those “generations of the leaves” of which is made the history of every age, is the deep impression we have from reading about the agricultural landscape, which, while remaining in the background, appears as the real protagonist, seemingly motionless, but continuously modified by the action of the men in the course of the centuries.
The care of the vineyards – sold, or purchased they may be – in these ancient parchments determines the added value to the possession of a piece of land.
It is always the vineyard which makes the difference. In each contract the presence of the vineyard says a lot about the value of the property, especially from the point of view of the content.
The vineyard is always considered as a family jewel. It has a value concretely symbolic. It measures the value of the land. A story that still lasts today.
This conception of the work, slowly distilled in wise works of transformation, almost molecular, to make sure that the agricultural landscape of these areas will remain apparently unchanged in the course of the centuries.
There is a thread of continuity, never interrupted, between the old farmer of the year one thousand who seemed to investigate with fear and anxiety the signs of the sky, hoping to cultivate and improve the vineyards and the modern farmer of today, although immersed in a virtual reality, continues the ancient craft of obtaining good fruits from the earth, as well as the care for the ancient art of making good wines.
And in the area now called Rotola, this is still happening. As it was written in the ancient parchments…