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Temple-Theater Complex in Monte San Nicola, Italy

The story of the Temple-Theater of Monte San Nicola is the story of an ancient and beautiful treasure, which remained hidden for many years in the mountains surrounding the village of Pietravairano, in Upper Casertano, Italy. Lying at 410m high in the Sannio area, the temple-theater complex dates back to the late Ancient Roman Republican period, 2nd-1st Century BC. In February 2000, Nicolino Lombardi, head teacher, local history scholar, and ultralight helicopter enthusiast, circling in the skies of Pietravairano, discovered the ruins of what would soon prove to be a spectacular late-republican Roman temple-theater complex.

At a height of 410 meters, there is in fact an ancient sanctuary consisting of a temple-theater complex, placed on two terraces at different heights


It is not even certain if the builders were Roman or another indigenous Italic tribe such as the Samnites, ferocious enemies of Rome. (The site has drawn comparisons to the Samnite theater at Pietrabbondante.) The discovery of some tombs indicates that the temple-theater complex was no longer used beyond the 2nd century AD. If the dating is accurate (approx. 100 BC) then Rome had already polished off some serious enemies such as Carthage. The Samnites would be next and then mighty Rome would enter into serious Social War with remaining local enemies on the peninsula. Augustus Caesar was still way in the future, but this temple and theater complex must have been a great symbol early on, watching over major approaches leading north, as much as to say, “Those who pass by, look up. We are now in charge.”


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