The Abbey of San Guglielmo al Goleto, a Romanesque masterpiece in Campania
The Abbey of San Guglielmo al Goleto – in Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi, Avellino – is a 12th-century monastery and one of Campania’s most beautiful Romanesque-style structures.
It rises from the top of a hill in the valley of the Ofanto, and was built in 1133 by Saint William of Vercelli, a hermit monk who also inspired the famous Sanctuary of the Madonna of Montevergine, in the province of Avellino.
Medieval historian Franco Cardini has explained that the complex “is formed by two monastic buildings: the major church built between 1733 and 1740, and, on its right, the minor church dating back to the 12th century, which has a rectangular plan and two naves.”
According to Cardini, above the latter “the superior church was built (1255) with a portal surmounted by a pointed arch and a small rose. Inside the complex, the so-called ‘Febronia Tower’ was built using Roman materials and decorated with symbolic sculptures” (translated from F. Cardini, “L’Italia medievale”, Touring Club Editore, Milan 2004).
Stella Casiello has noted the tower “is one of the rare examples we have of fortified structures attached to religious buildings, and responded to the need to defend the countryside settlement from bandits and Saracens” (translated from S. Casiello, “Verso una storia del restauro”, Alinea, Florence 2008).
Now, of course, the tower’s only function is to give us a glimpse of the skills and talent of the men who built it centuries ago.