Novi Velia, the story of a Cilento country
Novi Velia is a village in the National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano located at 648 above sea level, in the high valley of the Badolato stream, along the Provincial Road that leads from Vallo della Lucania to Mount Gelbison (1705 m). his Sanctuary. Its origins are lost in the centuries, probably had to be a village fortified already to the time of the Enotri, native population of the Peloponnese, appropriated since the 1000 to. C. in northern Calabria, in south-western Basilicata and in the current Cilento area. As evidence of this, there are remains of the findings made in 1960 of a clay statuette "Tanagra", a bronze serpentello and some shards of votive lamps, which are thought to come from a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Era. It is, in fact, lawful to suppose that on the top of the mountain, or nearby, there arose a temple dedicated to this goddess. Later (4th century BC), Novi, from a fortified village, became a fortress of the "Kora Velina". One can also suppose that the Focesi di Elea were linked to the Enotri brothers by economic reasons, in fact, among the "Red Crete" they found iron and, on the slopes of the mountain, wood, indispensable elements for building their ships. In Roman times, perhaps it continued its function of guarding, as in the past, of the "Via del Sale" that from Velia reached the inside. The first documented news of the existence of Novi, however, is in a diploma of 1005 with which the Prince of Salerno Guaimario IV donates his possessions to Luca, abbot of the monastery of Santa Barbara, located in the territory of "de Nobe".
Walking through the town you can admire the Baronial Palace - Castello di Novi, located in a strategic position from which you can see the entire territory of the Cilentodal Tyrrhenian Sea of the Gulf of Velia to the Alburni chain. The construction of the feudal palace, home to the Barony from the 13th century, was begun in 1291 by Guglielmo Marzano, Lord of the State of Novi, who had donated to the Celestine monks his old palace, which was later transformed into a monastery. The parish church of Santa Maria dei Longobardi (or Lombardi), of medieval origin, rebuilt in the Baroque period. Preserves a panel, already attributed to Andrea da Salerno, but considered a valid student of his, the 1540 polyptych by Giovan Filippo Criscuolo (Adoration of the Magi and Saints) adorns the presbytery. At 1705 meters is the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sacro Monte di Novi Velia, the highest Marian shrine in Italy. It is believed that the foundation of the Christian sanctuary, on the pre-existing pagan site, dates back to the tenth or eleventh century by Italian-Greek Basilian monks who settled in the Cilento at the time of the Lombards. Initially the Basilian monks had to settle in the caves, of which Monte Gelbison is rich, to devote himself to the eremitical contemplation, and then build a place of worship on top of the mountain. The first document that certifies the existence of the Sanctuary dates back to 1131, speaks of a rupis Sanctae Maria in the fief of Rofrano (the other side of the mountain compared to Novi Velia) and is in a Diploma given by Roger II the Norman, all Abbot Leonzio of S. Maria Grottaferrata. Today it is a destination for many pilgrims who come from Cilento and from all over Italy.