Venturing a little further inland from Itri, a twisting road meanders its way through the beautiful mountains of the Aurunci Natural Park. You will pass a turning on the left which leads up to Sanctuary of the Madonna della Civita and a little further on to the right you will pass a turning which leads up to the district of Campello.
Eventually the road leads to a fertile verdant valley with a wonderful patchwork of fields intermittently dotted with traditional old farmhouses.
The picturesque, medieval village of Campodimele is perched high on a hilltop at an altitude of 645 metres.
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© LM Shapcott 2009 -
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The village is encircled by formidable walls, with 12 cylindrical turrets, and ancient houses that form part of the defensive structure.
Places of worship include the now disused 13th century church of the Annunziata, the 11th century church dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo, the Cappella della Madonna delle Grazie and, in the lower district of Taverna, the little church of La Madonna del Rosario which was constructed after the war.
In addition there is the recently restored Benedictine Monastery of San Onofrio, founded by Desiderius of Montecassino, which was built in 1078. On the 12th and 30th June there is a pilgrimage from the town to the Monastery.
An ancient elm tree stands in the town's main square, near the Town Hall, which was planted in 1789 to commemorate Napoleon’s French Revolution.
Perhaps this ancient tree is somewhat apt, as the town has been awarded the European title of "The Village of Eternal Youth" as it is noted for the longevity of its citizens. It seems that they are a particularly hardy breed, who seldom have the need to visit a doctor. The average life expectancy is approximately 95.
In 1985 the World Health Organization sent researchers to the village to discover its secret. It seems that many of the villagers possess a dominant gene which keeps their blood pressure low and cholesterol levels minimal.
Other contributing factors may be the healthy mountain air, the less stressful pace of life, and consuming olive oil as an integral part of a healthy “Mediterranean diet”made of good fresh wholesome local ingredients. The elderly also keep themselves active and are not left to grow old alone.
Perhaps we should all take a leaf out of their books !!!
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