The Rocca San Felice Castle, also known as the "Donjon", is a place of historical interest located at the highest point of the Irpinian village.
The fort is part of a fortified area that is mentioned in old documents under the name "Castellum Sancti Felicis" and later referred to with the term "Rocca". The defensive structure was built on a rocky spur by the Lombards to support a defensive strategy against the Byzantines and for surveillance purposes, following the struggles for the possession of the Duchy of Benevento, which was split from the Principality of Salerno after the dispute. Collapses and damage caused by the natural disasters that befell the place have considerably altered the fortress's structure, which has undergone several changes and additions over time. The works initially emphasised its defensive purpose, such as the construction of the southern bastion, and later enhanced its residential purpose, with the construction of the Palatium and a building for residential use. Over time, the "Rocca" lost both functions, ultimately becoming a simple blacksmith's workshop, until it was gradually abandoned and emptied.
Of the entire fortified area, the following are still visible today: the gateway that permitted access to the structure and which is now located at the entrance of the De Antonellis-Villani Palace on Piazza San Felice; the surrounding walls; and the Donjon (or cylindrical tower), which served as the fulcrum for the entire structure and with which the Castle is still identified. Built in the 12th century with a diameter of ten meters, it was constructed using a technique known as "a sacco", in which two stone curtains forming the internal and external façades are filled in. The structure had four levels: the first level contained the cistern, still visible today; the second was used as a kitchen, as can be deduced from the presence of the well and the oven/fireplace; and finally, the third and fourth levels housed rooms with residential structures. On the top of the Donjon, there was a roof used as a lookout point, built in such a way as to collect rainwater and convey it to cistern on the first level.
Although it has lost its dual defensive and residential function over the centuries, the Rocca San Felice Castle still stands proud today over the Irpinian village and the splendid Valle d'Ansanto.
Castello di Rocca San Felice
Via Ospedale, 16, 83050 Rocca San Felice AV, Italia