Lubrense was originally named after the mythical sirens who lived on these
coasts. According to legend Ulysses was also a visitor to these shores and is
said to have founded the famous temple of Athena.
The first inhabitants of this area were probably two tribes of Italic origin:
the Ausonians and the Oscans. Evidence of the latter bas been found in rock
inscriptions discovered a few years ago on the eastern side of Punta Campanella.
the Greeks formed a colony here, the name of the temple (Athenaion) was used to describe the whole tip of this peninsula
which conserved its marked Hellenistic character even during Roman times, when
it was called Promontorium Minervae, a
name appearing on the Tabula Peutingeriana
(IV century) next to the first drawing of the temple.
was only in the first century that Latin culture came to the fore with the
arrival of eminent patricians who spent their holidays and free time here in
luxurious villas of which we still have interesting remains. There were no
inhabited centres of any importance and apart from the Roman villas there were
just a few dwellings dotted here and there in the fields and inhabited by people
who made a living from agriculture. During this period, veterans who bad been
given land to cultivate by Augustus were also to be found in this area.
Apostles may have brought Christianity to these regions, but it was very slow to
replace the Pagan cults. The Middle Ages marked a long period of intense poverty
for our inhabitants, reduced as they were to servitude and continually exposed
to attacks from the Saracens. Meantime the first social classes were gradually
forming, introducing new activities although agriculture remained dominant.
first residential areas developed groups of houses which became hamlets (casali),
and then villages, thus laying the foundations for the social and administrative
organisation of the district today.
name Massa first appears following the
brief domination of the Longobards (VI century), but it did not completely
affirm itself until later. Most historians believe that Massa derives from mansa,
a Longobard word indicating a place dedicated to cultivation. The adjective publica (938) was added to the name Massa to mean state-owned land,
public domain, in this case evidently belonging to the state of Sorrento. Around
1306 publica was replaced by lubrensis
(delubrum = temple, in reference to the cathedral to be found on the beach
of Fontanella). The municipality added both this adjective and an image of the
Virgin of the Lobra to its coat of arms. The name Massa
without adjectives usually refers to the cathedral house, nowadays indicated as
the centre of the town.
Lubrense formed part of the Dukedom of Sorrento and its fortunes alternated
until the arrival of the Normans. Its emancipation began under the Svevians,
when it declared itself a civitas. In
1273 its citizens, who were mainly Ghibellines, suffered the reprisals of Carlo
d'Angiņ, who took the territory back under Sorrento's jurisdiction.
period of great confusion followed until 1465, when after a 2 year siege
Ferrante d'Aragona destroyed the village of Annunziata, seat of the Bishop and
the civil authorities and the only village with fortified walls and a defence
II of Durazzo stayed in the hamlet of Quarazzano in a magnificent mansion, in
1600 the Jesuit Vincenzo Maggio built on its remains the imposing Collegio (Quartiere)
with its high defence tower (il
Torrione), an important architectural example of fortifications and one of
the town's main monuments.
the Spanish viceroyalty, Massa Lubrense underwent a period of political unrest
in an era of civil and moral decadence made worse by the frequent invasions of
Turkish pirates who in 1558 after horrendous massacres and pillaging took away
about one thousand five hundred people as slaves, some of whom were then ransomed.
continual threat from the sea forced the people of Massa to build a series of
watch towers along the coast, almost all of which are reasonably preserved and
can still be seen today.
The continual threat from the sea forced the people of Massa to build a series of watch towers along the coast, almost all of which are reasonably preserved and can still be seen today.
1656 the plague, which had broken out in Naples some years earlier, spread to
this area causing many victims.
during the domination of the Bourbons, even Massa began to feel the progress of
the times, and new commercial and artisan activities began to emerge alongside
the ancient peasant civilisation. Due to the poor communications by land, a
substantial fleet of large ships sailed to the capital and to other
Mediterranean ports exporting agricultural produce, livestock and artisan
products and importing raw materials and consumer articles. Commerce with Naples
was so intense that an entire district down at the quay side was named Porta
Massesi made a noble contribution of men and ideas to the Neapolitan Republic in
1799 and three townsmen, Luigi Bozzaotra, Severo Caputo and Nicola Pacifico were
victims of the repression and subsequently executed.
1808 Gioacchino Murat directed military operations from Massa against the
English who had occupied Capri. On the return of the Bourbons to the throne of
Naples, there were numerous conspiracies of the Carbonaria up until the
liberation of the Reign of the 2 Sicilies which was followed by the Unification
the end of 1800 until after the first World War the first mass emigrations took
place, mainly towards the Americas and New
Zealand; but after the second World War a significant number of townspeople
also emigrated in search of work and better living conditions. In contrast, the
numerous stone quarries (the most important being Marcigliano, Puolo and Ieranto,
active from the 1920's to 1968) attracted considerable numbers of Sardinian
miners who had no difficulty in settling into the Massa society.
the Second World War, many people were evacuated from the heavily bombarded
Naples and came to stay here. Following the 1943 armistice, dozens of disbanded
soldiers who had been employed in coastal defence at Tore and Reola, found
refuge with families in Massa. Once the war ended, many of them stayed here,
whilst others went back to their home towns taking their young brides with them.
In 1944 groups of refugees from Cassino and Nettuno were taken in, and small
groups of Irish and American soldiers
came here to Massa and S. Agata on furlough.
Over the last few decades in spite of the crisis in this sector, agriculture has remained fairly prosperous, whilst thanks to the improvement and expansion of its services and facilities, domestic and international tourism has flourished.