Area & History

Sannio's turbulent history stretches back into the distant past, the earliest written record of the Samnite people, generally believed to be of Umbrian origin, is a treaty with the Romans from 354 BC, which set their border at today's Liri river.

Shortly thereafter, the first of the three Samnite Wars broke out. The Samnites scored a number of notable early victories but by 290 BC, they had been momentarily subdued. 
Never adverse to conflict, in circa 280 BC, the Samnites allied with King Pyrrhus of Epirus (an ancient territory now shared between Greece and Albania) during the Pyrrhic war, now best known for having given us the term 'Pyrrhic victory'. Worn down by the brutality of the fighting, King Pyrrhus ultimately left for Sicily to wage war against Carthage, leaving Samnium open to invasion. Pyrrhus suffered a swift defeat to the Romans upon his return in 275 BC, and returned, exhausted to his homeland. 
The Samnites later joined and aided Hannibal during the Second Punic War and were the last tribal group holding out against Rome in the Social War of 91–88 BC.

Once Hannbal had been defeated, the Roman dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla responded with a vicious ethnic cleansing campaign against this most stubborn and persistent of Rome's Italian adversaries. Samnite towns were either reduced to villages or razed to the ground, the people scattered to the winds.
The Sannio region was once a much larger, mainly apennine region comprising much of Umbria as well as today's Sannio territory, which mainly consists of the province of Benevento. It has been at various points invaded or controlled by the Greeks, the Samnites of which there were four main tribes, the Romans, Goths, Byzantines, Longobards, Normans, the Papal States, the Kingdom of the two Sicilies and the Royal house of Savoy, each leaving their mark on Sannio’s landscape and population.

As Italy sought unification under the new Republic, the Sannio was the scene of some of the most important and brutal battles, this time between the supporters of Garibaldi and the royalists.
During the second world war, the Sannio found itself again in the midst of the fighting, Benevento's cathedral succumbing to fierce aerial bombardment by the Allies in 1943.

Today's Sannio is far more tranquil, its historical towns, monuments, national parks, springs, hills and peaks all contributing to the outstanding beauty of this area, its hillsides, occupied by the vinyards responsible for almost 50% of all the wine produced in the Campania region.