Lettere is a town of about 6000 inhabitants in the province of Naples, located between the green of the hill and the blue of the Gulf of Salerno and Naples. Lettere is renowned for its luxuriant nature, the beauty of its panorama, the wholesomeness of the climate as well as for its typical products.
Lettere is an ancient town of Roman origin, perhaps built by the consul Lucio Silla who, for strategic reasons, camped on these mountains in 89 BC. and where he built a “castrum” (fortified place). After the fall of the Roman Empire, the history of Lettere is linked, in many aspects, to the Republic of Amalfi. In the X century, the castrum of Lettere spread over the plateau of San Nicola del Vaglio. Here a castle was erected, within the walls built by Amalfi, in a very favorable strategic position. From here, in fact, it was possible to control the entire Sarno plain and, therefore, any military movement that could undermine the Amalfi Republic.
In times of peace, the castrum of Lettere facilitated the trade routes among Amalfi, Naples and its surroundings. The passage of time has however marred the ancient splendor of the castle which, although not intact, still retains most of the elements of the fortification today. In fact, it is still possible to admire the structures and towers.
Lettere’s relationship with Amalfi lasted until the decline of the glorious maritime republic and in the XVI century it was united to the Aragonese Kingdom. In the latter phase, the castle lost its defensive function and mainly assumed the residential one.
After this last flourishing period, the castle began a long period of decline, slowly reaching the state of abandonment and finally to the modern restorations that have partially restored it to its original splendor.
The former Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was built around the medieval castle and was dedicated to S. Maria Trinitatorum. Of the structure, which is presented in the form of a rectangular plan, today only the ruins of the perimeter remain. The former cathedral has a Latin cross, with a single nave and has four chapels on the right and three chapels on the left. The bell tower of the cathedral was built in the XII century. From 1503 the cathedral became a cult for the statue of S. Anna, until it moved to the new cathedral. Work on the construction of the new church began in 1570 and it was consecrated in 1696. Work on the bell tower, however, began in 1707, when an octagonal tower in the Moorish style was built.
At the entrance of the church, on the main altar, there is a large picture, in which you can see the Assumption of the Madonna, to which the former cathedral is dedicated. The work dates back to the early 1700s. In the former cathedral there are two eighteenth-century paintings dedicated to S. Giuseppe and S. Giovanni. The chapel of S. Anna is the source of the greatest worship for the people of Lettere. At the center of the chapel stands the statue of St. Anna, which dates back to 1503. In Lettere there is an intense devotion to this Saint, mother of the Madonna, protector of brides and mothers. His feast is celebrated on July 26th. A singular custom has spread in Lettere: a week before July 26, at twelve o’clock precisely, the statue is brought down from the niche and placed on the main altar. A huge crowd attends the ceremony and then each believer collect the so-called Saint Anne’s dust with a handkerchief to be used during the year against any evils.