Massa Lubrense, Province of Napoli, Campania

Massa Lubrense is at the tip of the Sorrento peninsula, opposite the island of Capri, with about 20 km of coastline in the middle between the two gulfs of Naples and Salerno.
It includes 18 smaller centers, and is rich in history, traditions and environmental beauty, as typical pergolas protecting lemon groves, lush olive groves and all the typical scents of the Mediterranean.


  • Population: about 14,200 inhabitants in 2017
  • Zip/postal code: 80061 Massa Lubrense (including Marciano, Marina di Lobra and Marina di Puolo), 80060 Monticchio di Massa Lubrense, 80064 Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, 80068 Termini
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 081
  • Demonym: massesi
  • Patron Saint: St. Cataldo, celebrated on 10 May
  • Frazioni & Localities: Acquara, Annunziata, Casa, Marciano, Marina del Cantone, Marina della Lobra, Marina di Puolo, Metrano, Monticchio, Nerano, Pastena, San Francesco, Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, Santa Maria, Santa Maria della Neve, Schiazzano, Termini, Torca.

The Territory

The territory offers over 100 km of marked trails into the countryside, a 20-mile long coastline in the heart of the Protected Marine Area of Punta Campanella; some pedestrian streets, with characteristic sandstone stretches, connect the numerous hamlets of the municipality is composed. This tourist paradise offers some of the top restaurants in the region, and the most beautiful places in Campania are nearby: Sorrento and Capri, Positano, Amalfi, Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius - almost everything is under an hour away.

History - Antiquity

The earliest inhabitants of the area were two Italic peoples, the Ausoni and the Osci. The latter's presence is documented in an inscription discovered at the eastern landing of Punta Campanella. The Greeks founded here a colony, Athenaion, named after the temple dedicated to goddess Athena.

In Roman times it was called Promontorium Minervae, a name that appears in the Tabula Peutingeriana (an ancient Roman road map) next to the first graphical representation of the temple. In the first century AD patricians from Rome started to settle here in sumptuous mansions, of which interesting remains are extant. There were also veterans who, once dismissed, were assigned plots of land.

History - the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages the population was exposed to raids by marauders from the sea, and by Saracen invasions. The name of Massa appears after the brief Lombard domination of the 6th century, derived from "mansa", a Longobard term indicating a place suitable for cultivation. To the name Massa the adjective "publica" was added, as appears in a docunment of 938, to signify a state property, probably one of those belonging to the Sorrento fiefdom. The adjective "lubrensis", that is of the "Lobra" (delubrum= temple), substituted "publica" when the settlement became a bishopric with a cathedral at Fontanella, where the image of the Virgin of Lobra was venerated. Massa Lubrense was part of the Duchy of Sorrento with mixed fortunes until the advent of the Norman kingdom. Then its emancipation from feudalism began under the Swabians, and Massa became a "civitas".

In 1273 its citizens, mostly Ghibellines, suffered the reprisal of Carlo d'Angiò, who subjected Massa to Sorrento. In 1465 the settlement of the Annunziata was destroyed by Ferrante d'Aragona, after a two years' siege. In the 15th century the Queen of Naples, Joanna II of Durazzo, built here a splendid palace, on whose remains in the 16th century Jesuit father Vincenzo Maggio established a "Collegio" with a high defense tower, today commonly known as the "Torrione".

History - from the Renaissance to 1800

During the Spanish viceroyalty, Massa Lubrense went through a period of troubled political events, with frequent invasions of Turkish corsairs who in 1558, after horrible massacres and looting, carried away as slaves about 1500 people, in small part ransomed later. The threat from the sea forced the population to erect watchtowers along the coast; these towers, almost all still extant and well preserved, are a very peculiar feature of the landscape. In 1656 the plague that had broken out in Naples a few years before spread in the area making many victims.

During the Bourbon domination, Massa also was affected by a rebirth of commercial and artisan activities, side by side with the traditional peasant economy. Due to the lack of communication routes by land, a fleet of large boats was formed, which sailed to Naples and other Mediterranean ports starting lively export and import movements. The trade with Naples especially was so intense that a whole Neapolitan district near the docks was called "Porta di Massa". The harbor was so well equipped that in 1808 Joachim Murat directed from Massa the military operations against the English who occupied Capri.

History - Modern Times

In the late 19th and first half of the 20th century there were two waves of emigration, the former to the Americas at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and for some years in the aftermath of the First World War, the latter towards New Zealand and Germany, after the Second World War. The opening of stone quarries (such as those at Vitale and Ieranto, now both dismissed) attracted the immigration of workers from Sardinia, who became well integrated in the social context of Massa.

During the Second World War a large number of displaced people of the rich bourgeoisie, especially from Naples that was being heavily bombed, settled in the so-called "manor houses", their holiday homes. After the armistice of 1943 a lot of disbanded soldiers found shelter near local families, and many of them at the end of the war settled here. In 1944 groups of refugees from Cassino and Nettuno, almost razed to the ground, were welcomed by the population, as well as contingents of Irish soldiers (in Massa) and Americans (in Sant'Agata).

What to see

  • The Jeranto Bay, which can be reached only through a path from the hamlet of Nerano
  • The fishing port of Marina della Lobra, a natural bay with a tourist port and traditional Mediterranean houses; the hamlet faces the Vervece island rock, with a statue of the Virgin Mary on the sea bottom; on August 15 a boat procession goes to the rock and scuba divers place a flower garland on the statue.
  • The frazione of Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, one of the most beautiful seaside resorts in the world, situated at the junction of the gulfs of Naples and Amalfi.
  • The hamlet of Termini, exactly on the promontory separating the two gulfs, called Punta della Campanella.

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Provinces of Campania
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