Alfonso Pacitti
updated December 2022

The village of Cerasuolo is situated on the provincial road (S627) that connects Atina and Filignano. It nestles in the hills, some 20 kilometres north east of Cassino and 90 kilometres north of Napoli. Today, it has a normal population of less than 100 (although this usually more than doubles during the summer months) and sits some 700m above sea level within the southern Apennines.
Cerasuolo was first settled as a village of the Abbey of San Vincenzo. From 1806 to 1882, it was designated as part of the municipality of Rochetta al Volturno. Cerasuolo is now designated as a 'Frazione di Filignano’; a municipality administered from Filignano.The evocative photograph of the town depicted above was taken by my late cousin and namesake, Alfonzino Pacitti.
The historical information below comes from the writings of Gianbattista Masciotta (1864-1933), who published a series of books in the early twentieth century; ‘II Molise dalle origini ai nostri giorni’ (‘Molise, from its origins to today’) and is taken from a reprint of the text (volume III).

Cerasuolo: the most distant hamlet from the town of Filignano and located towards the northern border of the surrounding countryside. Two kilometres from there, the rich Mainarde Forest begins (part of the fiefdom of Cassinese Abbey). Cerasuolo boasts origins less remote than Filignano, since its surrounding countryside is well defined in a document that can be read in the “Volturnense Chronicle”. In September of the year 962 the Abbot of San Vincenzo levelled it in order to put it to use for cultivation. It is clear that the habitation that grew up later on, date from the first houses which were constructed by the founders.
During the feudal changes, Cerasuolo had the same fate as that of Castelnuovo. From 1806 it belonged administratively to Rocchetta. In 1862, together with Castelnuovo, it made a request to be declared a town in its own right; but the request was not granted. Instead, in 1876, Rocchetta made a request to become independent of the hamlet, but the Provincial Council again refused to allow this. The request was made again in 1882 on the part of Rocchetta for the separation of Cerasuolo, and on the part of Filignano for merging with it. The Provincial Council in returns of the 22nd September 1882 eventually expressed a favourable opinion and, in 1884, the aspirations of Cerasuolo were met.


Cerasuolo, the home town of my family, boasts its origins from around the time of the Volturnense Chronicle. The settlement and its surrounding countryside are well defined within that document. About the middle of the tenth century, the two abbots of the main monasteries of Montecassino and San Vincenzo were concerned about how best to consolidate the areas of land that surrounded the monasteries themselves; known as Terra Sancti Benedicti and Terra Sancti Vincenti. In addition they were keen to find new means of exploiting their territories. One solution that they developed was to lease the land to groups of peasant farmers, local families and also to immigrants, many from the Abruzzi countryside. In return they required rent in kind, typically a proportion of the cultivated wine and crops. The Volturnense Chronicles indicated that it was essential to bring in new settlers who would exploit the then semi-deserted land holdings of the abbey.

In 962 AD, a monk sent by Abbot Paul, leader of the Abbey of San Vincenzo, leased land at a place called Causa, near the river Volturno, to a group of seven immigrants from the lands of ‘Francia’. The immigrants were probably from northern Italy, since at that time, the North Italian kingdom was part of the French Empire; as it was still, much later, during the time of unification. In return for the lease holding, in addition to the crop payments, the tenants were also required to build a ‘castellum’ or fortified village. The ‘castellum’ located at Causa was one of 17 charters of ‘incastellamento’ that are documented in the chronicles. A century later, the village established at Causa in 962 became the site of a ‘castellum’ called Cerasuolo; in the southwestern part of the Terra Sancti Vincenti. This site is now known as Cerasuolo Vecchio and is located a short distance to the North and slightly east of the current village of Cerasuolo as indicated in the map below. Cerasuolo is also mentioned in a number of archaeological research articles and books that refer to medieval documents. The current Cerasuolo appears to have been established sometime in the eighteenth century.

Il primo dei contratti di locazione della terra è Chronicon Volturnense 112 (CV 112 - 962AD), inerente terra “ad ipsa Causa”, cioè posta presso il torrente altrimenti denominata rio San Pietro, che scorre dall'abitato di Cerasuolo Vecchio in giù, sino al Volturno. Cerasuolo Vecchio è adesso disabitato (sembra che i suoi abitanti si spostassero nell'attuale Cerasuolo nel XVIII secolo), sebene i suoi edifici siano ancora in parte rintracciabili entro la macchia; dei diversi tipi di ceramica, vi e stata finora trovata solo maiolica. Le rubriche del cronista del XII secolo a CV 112 ci chiariscono che ‘ad Causa‘ divenne il castello di Cerasuolo.

The first contract for leasing of land was CV 112 in 962 and concerned an area of land “to the cause”, adjacent to the stream also known as the rio San Pietro, which runs down from the settlement of Cerasuolo Vecchio to the Volturno. Cerasuolo Vecchio is now abandoned (its inhabitants appear to have moved to modern Cerasuolo in the eighteenth century), though its buildings are still partially traceable in the undergrowth: so far there has only been found traces of majolica pottery. Writings from the twelfth century chronicler (CV 112) indicate that ‘ad Causa’ became the castellum of Cerasuolo.

The War Years

Cerasuolo suffered devastating destruction during the Second World War.