Benvenuti / Welcome to
Benvenuti / Welcome to
The first settlers in Suio were the Aurunci people, however the Romans took control 314 BC. The Roman town was called Aquas Vescinas, which translates as Thermal Baths. A road was constructed linking Aquas Vescinas to the nearby Roman port of Minturnae.
During the 900’s the area was plagued with raids by Saracen pirates. The Saracens were eventually driven out of the area by Pope John X and the Catholic league following the Battle оf Garigliano in 915, and people moved to live on higher ground.
In the early part of the 11th century a fortress named Castrum Suji was constructed on a hill (148 metres) overlooking the River Garigliano. The remains of the towers and fortified town walls can still be seen today. The town was first governed by Docibile II of Gaeta and his son Count Ugo and later the ownership passed to the Abbey of Montecassino.
There was a gateway in the southern section of the fortified walls, which was opened each morning and closed each evening. At the heart of the castle once stood a tall majestic tower, unfortunately this no longer exists.
At Suio there was a river port for transporting goods up-
In the heart of the town stands the 15th century Church of San Michele Arcangelo. San Michele is the patron saint of the town.
During World War II Suio and Castelforte were a major German stronghold on the Gustav Line. The local people suffered greatly under German occupation and during the heavy bombing of the Allied forces.
Near to the church is a small piazza named after an English soldier by the name of Ernest Foster. 19 year old Ernie, of the 5th Hampshire Regiment 46th Division, was amongst the Allied troops striving to breach the Gustav Line. Whilst serving in the town of Suio, during a period of heavy bombardment, he suddenly heard desperate cries from a dying woman (Pasqualina Ciorra) who was trapped beneath the rubble of a building: “Save my child! Save my child !” she implored. Ernest heroically found the child and carried him to an infirmary.
The boy’s name was Alessandro Lefano. In gratitude the boy’s father gave Ernest a gold locket decorated with an image of the Madonna. Many years later Ernest returned to Suio to try and find the child he had saved. He met up with Alessandro and they became good friends, until sadly Ernest passed away in 1992. Alessandro campaigned to have a Piazza in the village named after the hero that had saved his life.
For more information about Suio during WWII and Suio’s history see the Castelforte webpages.
Finally, in 1998, Alessandro’s efforts were successful and the official naming of the square was celebrated with a special mass in the parish church, which was followed by a display of folk dancing, a colourful military parade and a grand unveiling of the plaque in his memory. This ceremony was attended by local officials, British diplomats and Ernie’s widow and their three children.
Lower Suio is made up of several villages situated along the river bank. Here there are several thermal springs which were formed as the result of volcanic activity many years ago. The water is high in sulphur and mineral deposits.
In Suio Forma there was an ancient Romanesque church dedicated to Santa Maria in Pensulis, which once had an annex to house sick people who came seeking treatment. There is now the modern church of Santa Maria Del Buon Rimedio, and the small chapel of San Nicola.
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© LM Shapcott 2009 -
Except where photos have been rightfully accredited to the photographer / owner
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