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Paganica: the History


 

Paganica rises up in a large hollow that was a originally a vast Pleistocene lake and, during the historical era, was inhabited by two Italic people the Sabinos and the Vestinos living in the valley between the Gran Sasso and Velino Mountains.
About the origins of Paganica, there are several hypothesises.
 Some historians have connected it to the Vestino people, due to the writings of Tito Livio, who describes that in 430 B.C. the Romans and their commander, the consul Giunio Bruto Sceva, destroyed the ancient town of Cutina, in the Vestino territory (Ab Urbe condita libri, VIII). The town from these writings has been located precisely to the Cadicchio hill, in the Paganica territory.
Other historians connect the origins of Paganica with a temple dedicated to Paganico Jupiter. The existence of the ancient temple was confirmed by an inscription found by Professor Venanzio Lupacchini (1730-1775): "IOVI PAGANICO SACRUM" (translated: "Sacred to Paganico Jupiter"). This theory states that Paganica takes its name from this temple.
A third hypothesis is based on the origin of the name of Paganica, which is connected with the Latin word "pagus" (translated "village"). This hypothesis suggests a Roman origin of Paganica.

Whatever is the correct hypothesis, we know certainly that Paganica has existed since the Roman Era, a fact to which two inscriptions attest.
The first inscription, located on the floor at the main entrance of the San Giustino's Church, attests that Licinacio, Caio's son, was "Praefectus Iure Dicundo", a position which in Paganica could not exist before 430 BC, when the Romans conquered the Vestino people.

The second inscription, kept in Dragonetti Villa, is dated back to a period between IV and III century BC.

Inscription in front of the entrance of the San Giustino's Church (Paganica.it)


Several "Villas" or "Faras" (that is "Contradas") were built during the Byzantine Era, proven by several notary deeds. However, they became part of a urban structure just during the Lombard Era.
The first mention of Paganica is in an official document dated back to 956 AC: the decree with which the emperor Ottone I gave some estates to the Forcona's Diocese, including the properties of the San Giustino's and Santa Maria di Paganica's Churches.

At the beginning of XII century, Paganica was certainly the most important and richest village of the Vestino valley. Here economic and political interests converged and made Paganica a densely populated area. During this period, Paganica was so rich that it was able to give 18 knights and 35 servants for the Crusades. This small town was independent and the venue of the "Local Magistrate".
In 1254, with the other 99 Castles, Paganica had a hand in founding the City of L'Aquila, building its own district, Santa Maria where the church, the square and the fountain were copies of the ones in Paganica. The Santa Maria Paganica's Church became one of the most important churches in L'Aquila. After this period, the Paganica's destiny was linked to that of Aquila.
The XIV century was one of the most prosperous periods for Paganica. With its importance and richness, Paganica was able to reinforce its walls and castle. We do not know the exact date of these works, but they are dated to a period between 1364, the year of the Giovannna I's diploma, and 1423, the year of the Braccio da Montone's siege. During the war between Angevins and Aragons, Braccio da Montone, who had several titles (Governor of Bologna, Rector of Rome, Lord of Rome, Prince of Capua, Count of Foggia, Constable of the Reign of Naple), supported the Angevins against the Aragons (who supported by L'Aquila and Paganica). The Angevins and Braccio won. Fortebraccio da Montone conquered Paganica and set up his quarters in the castle of Paganica. During the following year, in 1424, Fortebraccio was defeated by Lalle Camponeschi, who conquered and destroyed the castle. Over the ruins of the castle, two centuries later, in 1605, the Santa Maria del Presepe's Church was built.

The Santa Maria del Presepe's Church in a old photo (Paganica.it)


If in the XV century Paganica had been able to get the tax exemption, in the XVI century it began to die away. During this period, with other villages, Paganica was converted to a feudal state. Its first baron was the Spanish Captain Roderigo de Arzes, who bought it for 400 scutes. From then on, for two centuries, Paganica was property of several families, such as the Carlis, the Carafas, the Caracciolos, the Vitellis, the De Torreses, the Matteis and finally during the middle of XVIII century, the Doge Ignazio Di Costanzo, who built the Doge's Palace, which you can visit today.
After the French Revolution in 1789 and the abolition of feudalism, several Universitates (that is the most important towns) became independent Communes once again. In XIX century, Paganica acquired autonomy and became a Royal Curia; in addition, in 1816, the town became the administrative center of the district. During this century, Paganica constructed new buildings, like a train station, a post office and the famous Sant'Antonio's Fountain.
However, the autonomy lasted only one century. In 1927, a Royal Decree, promulgated on July 29th, suppressed eight Communes, which became hamlets of L'Aquila, one of which was Paganica. This decree put into effect a plan elaborated by the Podestà Adelchi Serena, during the Fascist Age.

Today, Paganica is still a hamlet of L'Aquila. The village, struck by the earthquake in 2009, keeps its historical center inaccessible. However, Paganica keeps several historical palaces, which testify its greatness and richness in the past.



Video by Paganica.it



 




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