Aversa is a town and comune in the Province of Caserta in Campania southern Italy, about north of Naples. It is the centre of an agricultural district, the agro aversano, producing wine and cheese (famous for the typical buffalo mozzarella). Aversa is also the main seat of the faculties of Architecture and Engineering of the Seconda università degli studi di Napoli (Second University of Naples).
Although some archaeological sites excavated near Aversa have revealed human presence in the area since the Neolithic period, the first known inhabitants in the area were the Liburnians, people related to the Illyrians, whose territory was bounded on the south by Naples, west by the Tyrrhenian Sea and north along the Clanio river. However, some say that the founding of the city took place with the Etruscans.
In any case, because of endemic malaria that ravaged the region, the primitive city was abandoned.
Lower middle ages
Only a small military fortification, a castellum, still stands in the area, which is linked to a chapel in memory of the current alleged passage through Aversa by the Apostle Paul in the year 61. A.D., via the Roman road that ran towards Rome.
Aversa, which replaced the nearby city of Atella that had been laid waste during the Gothic Wars, was the first of the Norman territories in the Mediterranean. In 1030, the site was ceded to Rainulf Drengot, a cadet of the lords of Quarrel near Alençon in Normandy; he was invested as count by Duke Sergius IV of Naples and confirmed by Emperor Conrad II. By offering a generous principle of asylum for the persecuted, Rainulf enlarged the power and importance of his little borgo, which became the base from which the Normans forged a state in Sicily and Italy. The diplomacy of Robert Guiscard, who built the fortifications, led to the investiture of a bishop responsible to the Pope at Aversa, which was nominally territory of the Eastern Emperor. One of the first bishops was the Norman Guitmund (died c. 1090–95), a Benedictine monk, theologian, and opponent of Berengar of Tours.
The count of Aversa, Richard I, was one of the chief leaders in the struggle against the Papal forces which culminated in the Battle of Civitella del Fortore (1053) in Beneventan territory; even Pope Leo IX himself was captured at what turned into a rout in favour of the Normans. The astute Richard did not treat the pope as a prisoner, however, but escorted him back to Rome with full honours, a gesture that led to the conciliation of the Normans with the Church, the lifting of the ban of excommunication that had been laid upon Aversa.
After the Norman dynasty Aversa declined in importance: the Angevin kings of Naples came to Aversa mostly to hunt and hold court in the citadel, of which a few traces remain in via Roma in Aversa's historic centre. In particular Queen Joanna I chose Aversa for her preferred seat. There a group of nobles threw her husband Andrew from a window with a rope around his neck. His brother, King Louis I of Hungary, head of the Capetian House of Anjou, marched into Italy and at Aversa took his vengeance at a banquet of reconciliation, as Joanna escaped to Avignon.
The presence of the court also benefitted Aversa by the institution of the Real Casa dell'Annunziata (about 1315) an orphanage and hospice that occupied a central place in Aversan public life.
Crown of Aragon
When Alfonso V of Aragon permanently enthroned the kingdom of Naples within the domains of the Crown of Aragon, Aversa continued to maintain the privileges it had enjoyed. Soon the epidemics and subdivisions of land caused it to be relegated as a peripheral urban center of Naples.
In the fourteenth or fifteenth century the County of Aversa was taken over by a family from Valencia, the Pròixida. In fact, the palace of the Count of Almenara in Almenara (Castellón) is also known as the palace of the Count of Aversa.