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A sampling of some of the beautiful views travelers will get to see on their way up the mountain passes to the town of Benevento, in southern Italy. The town is roughly an hour's drive from the U.S. Navy base of Capodichino.
A sampling of some of the beautiful views travelers will get to see on their way up the mountain passes to the town of Benevento, in southern Italy. The town is roughly an hour's drive from the U.S. Navy base of Capodichino. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
A sampling of some of the beautiful views travelers will get to see on their way up the mountain passes to the town of Benevento, in southern Italy. The town is roughly an hour's drive from the U.S. Navy base of Capodichino.
A sampling of some of the beautiful views travelers will get to see on their way up the mountain passes to the town of Benevento, in southern Italy. The town is roughly an hour's drive from the U.S. Navy base of Capodichino. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
Artwork by painter and sculptor Antonio Mastronunzio is on display until the end of May in the Liceo del Principato, a public school housed in a former convent.
Artwork by painter and sculptor Antonio Mastronunzio is on display until the end of May in the Liceo del Principato, a public school housed in a former convent. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
A lake fountain is one of the features of the well-maintained and beautiful public park in the heart of Benevento.
A lake fountain is one of the features of the well-maintained and beautiful public park in the heart of Benevento. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
A fountain marks the entrance of the well-maintained and beautiful public park in the heart of Benevento. From now until June 14, the park is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 10 p.m. on holidays. From June 15 to Sept. 15, the park stays open until midnight.
A fountain marks the entrance of the well-maintained and beautiful public park in the heart of Benevento. From now until June 14, the park is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 10 p.m. on holidays. From June 15 to Sept. 15, the park stays open until midnight. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
After the 18th-century earthquake, the clock tower that had been next to the Santa Sofia church was moved a little away from the church to avoid damaging the church in future quakes. It now marks the beginning of the posh shopping street, Corso Garibaldi.
After the 18th-century earthquake, the clock tower that had been next to the Santa Sofia church was moved a little away from the church to avoid damaging the church in future quakes. It now marks the beginning of the posh shopping street, Corso Garibaldi. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
The "Obelisco Neoegizio," or neo-Egyptian obelisk, dates from the first century  and was taken from a Romantemple.
The "Obelisco Neoegizio," or neo-Egyptian obelisk, dates from the first century and was taken from a Romantemple. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
Ask the locals from Benevento to name the town's most iconic structure, and they'll most likely point you to L'Arco di Traiano, one of the best-preserved and ornate of Trajan arches in Italy. Built in the second century, the arch marked the opening of the Appian way between the cities of Rome and Brindisi. On the arch's side facing the town are scenes depicting peaceful times, while the side facing the country hills are dedicated to military might.
Ask the locals from Benevento to name the town's most iconic structure, and they'll most likely point you to L'Arco di Traiano, one of the best-preserved and ornate of Trajan arches in Italy. Built in the second century, the arch marked the opening of the Appian way between the cities of Rome and Brindisi. On the arch's side facing the town are scenes depicting peaceful times, while the side facing the country hills are dedicated to military might. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
Scenes of peace and public discourse are chiseled into the side of the L'Arco di Traiano that faces the town of Benevento. While touted as one of the best-persevered arches in Italy, the faces of the figures are starting to wear away.
Scenes of peace and public discourse are chiseled into the side of the L'Arco di Traiano that faces the town of Benevento. While touted as one of the best-persevered arches in Italy, the faces of the figures are starting to wear away. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
A couple shares a good-bye kiss in front of the famed L'Arco di Traiano in Benevento, southern Italy
A couple shares a good-bye kiss in front of the famed L'Arco di Traiano in Benevento, southern Italy (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
Another of Benevento's signature structures is the Santa Sofia Church, built by the Lombards in 760 and modeled after a mosque in Constantinople. The church was almost destroyed in the 1688 earthquake and was rebuilt in Baroque style. In 1951 it was restored to what is believed to be the original style.
Another of Benevento's signature structures is the Santa Sofia Church, built by the Lombards in 760 and modeled after a mosque in Constantinople. The church was almost destroyed in the 1688 earthquake and was rebuilt in Baroque style. In 1951 it was restored to what is believed to be the original style. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
As with many Italian towns and villages, Benevento has tiny streets and alleys, complete with cobblestone paths, colorful buildings and laundry drying in the spring sun.
As with many Italian towns and villages, Benevento has tiny streets and alleys, complete with cobblestone paths, colorful buildings and laundry drying in the spring sun. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
Artifacts from the cloisters of Santa Sofia church are on display outdoors next to the building.
Artifacts from the cloisters of Santa Sofia church are on display outdoors next to the building. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)
An old  map shows the region around Beneto (Beneventvm) in the eighth century.
An old map shows the region around Beneto (Beneventvm) in the eighth century. (Sandra Jontz/Stars and Stripes)

If “chic” and “quaint” were to have a child, its name would likely be Benevento.

Roughly an hour’s drive from the U.S. Navy base of Capodichino in Italy sits this mountain gem of a town of roughly 65,000 residents — many of them fashionably dressed college students who add a youthful touch to an ancient town.

Benevento, in some ways, feels like the Boulder, Colo., of southern Italy — clean, hip, young, chic, not hurting for cash, environmentally friendly, warm and inviting.

Oh yeah, and there’s some history.

Benevento sits some 300 feet above sea level and borders the regions of Molise and Puglia. It was an important town along the Appian Way and was a base for Roman expansion in southern Italy.

Ask residents from Benevento to name the town’s most iconic trait, and many will point you to L’Arco di Traiano, one of the best-preserved and ornate of the Trajan arches in Italy.

Built between 114 and 117, the arch marked the opening of the Appian Way between the cities of Rome and Brindisi. Built as a single piece in the midst of the city walls, the arch was a gateway to the city, and because of its grandeur, it was called Golden Gate.

Hmmmm, a little Boulder, a little San Francisco.

The side of the arch that faces the city includes scenes of peace and civil benevolence, while the side facing the countryside is dedicated to military scenes and tributes to various emperors.

Another of Benevento’s signature structures is the church of Santa Sofia, built by the Lombards in 760 and modeled after a mosque in Constantinople. It is a circular structure, with an interesting interior design based on a hexagon. The interior was once covered with frescoes, bits of which remain. The church was almost destroyed in a 1688 earthquake and was rebuilt in Baroque style. In 1951 it was restored to what is believed to be its original style.

Throughout the town, visitors can feel transported to several architectural cultures, including Arabic-styled buildings, a large Roman theater and the Egyptian obelisk near Santa Sofia, evidence of the multitudes of invading or occupying forces that helped shape the town.

The castle of Benevento, best known as Rocca dei Rettori, stands at the highest point of the

town and adjacent to the well-manicured la villa comunale, or public park.

Benevento itself has a beautiful setting. It rests in mountainous, rugged territory, surrounded by vineyards that are a key commercial venture for the residents. Details on those vineyards will be included in another Quick Trip journey, as will be the famed tales of the witches of Benevento.

jontzs@estripes.osd.mil

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