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Ariano Irpino
Città di Ariano Irpino

Panorama of Ariano Irpino

Coat of arms

Ariano Irpino within the Province of Avellino
Ariano Irpino
Ariano Irpino
Location of Ariano Irpino in Italy

Coordinates: 41°9′0″N 15°5′3″E / 41.15000°N 15.08417°E / 41.15000; 15.08417Coordinates: 41°9′0″N 15°5′3″E / 41.15000°N 15.08417°E / 41.15000; 15.08417

Country Italy
Region Campania
Province Avellino (AV)
Frazioni Ariano Scalo, Camporeale, Cardito, Difesa Grande, Frolice, Manna, Martiri, Orneta, San Liberatore, San Nicola Trignano, San Pietro, Santa Barbara, Tesoro, Valleluogo.
 • Total 185.52 km2 (71.63 sq mi)
Elevation 817 m (2,680 ft)
Population (30 April 2009)
 • Total 23,179
 • Density 120/km2 (320/sq mi)
Demonym Arianesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 83031
Dialing code 0825
Patron saint Otto Frangipane
Saint day 23 March

Ariano Irpino (formerly Ariano di Puglia or simply Ariano) is a municipality in the province of Avellino, in the Campania region of Italy on the railway between Benevento and Foggia, c. 40 km east of the former.


At a height of 817 m above sea level, Ariano Irpino is practically centred between the Adriatic Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Formerly called just Ariano, it was built on three hills, and for that reason it is also known as Città del Tricolle (City of the Three Hills). From 1868 to 1930, when it became part of Campania, it was known as Ariano di Puglia. Irpinia is the name given to the area of the Apennine Mountains around Avellino. The name derives from the Oscan word hirpus, meaning wolf.

Ariano lies in the centre of a fertile district, but has no buildings of importance, as it has often been devastated by earthquakes. A considerable part of the population still dwelled in caves until 1911. It has been supposed to occupy the site of Aequum Tuticum, an ancient Samnite town which became a post-station on the Via Traiana in Roman times; but this should probably be sought at S. Eleuterio 51 miles (82 km) north. It was a military position of some importance in the Middle Ages. c. 20 km south-south-east is the Sorgente Mefita, identical with the pools of Ampsanctus.


The city's origins are very ancient having been settled since the Neolithic (circa 7000 BC) and continued to be inhabited until around 900 BC. Successively a tribe of the brave Samnites, the Hirpini, the warriors of the wolf, founded Aequum Tuticum; a site which within years became Roman while benefitting from its fortuitous location at the crossing of two major routes, the Via Traiana road and the Via Herculeia.

The decline of Aequum Tuticum began with the first barbaric invasions. As a result of this, the three hills started to be inhabited, a high and easily defendable place, and it is here that Ariano was born, a fortified city in a strategic position; today its ancient and formidable defensive walls are still recognizable and are part of the city. In a secure place away from the invasions of the Goths and Byzantines, Ariano is a fortified city of the Lombards. Around 1000 the Castle was built to defend the city against the Byzantines which, although ruined, still proudly stands in the Villa Comunale city park.

Successively conquered by the Normans, in 1140 it was the place where were promulgated, by Roger II of Sicily, the Assizes of Ariano, the then-new constitution of the Kingdom of Sicily. This legal corpus will be adopted almost integrally and with a few variations into the Constitutions of Melfi of the Emperor Frederick II. In the same year it is coined the ducat, a coin that will last for seven centuries, until 1860.

In 1255, Manfred of Hohenstaufen, son of Frederick, besieged the city, which resisted strongly thanks to its walls and the combative nature of the inhabitants. During the siege, a group of soldiers from Lucera pretended to be disserters of Manfred's army, and were welcomed into the city. During the night, they revealed their double face, sacking and destroying the city with the fire and killing all the inhabitants. There's still a road in memory of that tragic event, called La Carnale (The Carnage).

More than ten years later, in 1266, Charles I of Anjou rebuilt the city and gave it two thorns of the crown of Christ, still conserved in a reliquary into the city's Romanesque cathedral. All these happenings are reproduced every year in the Rievocazione Storica del Dono delle Sante Spine (Historical Reinvocation of the Gift of the Sacred Thorns) and in the reproduction of the Incendio del Campanile (Belltower Burning), a pyrotechnic event that lights the main square of the city and the side of the cathedral.

After the Capetian House of Anjou lost control of Sicily to Peter III of Aragon in the War of the Sicilian Vespers, the city passed to the Provenzale dei Desambramo family from 1294 to 1413; and then in the hands of the Carafa family and the House of Gonzaga. Still today are there in the city buildings that were of the Spanish families which governed at that time. On 2 August 1545 the city rebelled against the feudal regime and became a Città Regia (city-state) dependent on the Viceroy of the Kingdom of Sicily.


Ariano is known for the production of majolica, a tin-glazed pottery. The first examples date from the 13th century under the Moorish influence of the Spanish, but Ariano Irpino's majolica became more refined around the 18th century, when the first amphoras and pitchers appear, often simple in the shape, but thinly elaborated. Today's production is bigger than ever, including flask, busts, cups, plates, figures, amphoras. All pieces are splendidly decorated by the craftsmen of Ariano, and often have a fine and elaborate shape.

In popular culture

The fictitious crime family depicted in the American television series The Sopranos trace their origins to this city. Precisely the capostipites of the Soprano family (Corrado Soprano Sr. and Mariangela D'Agostino) emigrated from Ariano to New Jersey in 1911 (when the city was still called Ariano di Puglia); and also some other characters state that they are from Ariano. Specifically Paulie Gualtieri states his grandfather was from Ariano Irpino in the episode Commendatori. The likely reason for this connection is that series creator David Chase traces his mother's family origins to Ariano.

External links

  • Comune di Ariano (Italian)
  • Città di Ariano (Italian)
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