In the 10th century the Duke of Amalfi commissioned the Castle of Lettere to protect his northern borders. It was part of a network of fortifications that allowed the Amalfitans to control both sides of the Lattari mountains. In fact, the site still offers a wonderful panoramic view, which enabled the control not only of the area from the port of Castellammare to the mouth of the Sarno river and the entire Gulf of Naples, but also the Sarno Valley dominated by Mount Vesuvius, and the stretch from the Sarno mountains to the town of Pagani.
The castle was originally built in the form of a fortified village with multi-storey houses, as proven by documents dating back to 1030 and 1033. The construction of the citadel, now known as the castle, was probably related to the settlement of the feudal lord that commissioned it as his place of residence inside the walls, and as a symbol of his power. The building has a trapezoidal shape with four towers still standing, the highest of which served as a keep. Inside the walls a cathedral was also built, which has been the seat of a bishopric from 987. In the 12th century a bell tower decorated with tarsias made of grey tuff and yellow sandstone forming stars, crosses, and lozenges was built up next to this first building.
The Torre del Grano (wheat tower) was originally used as a storage space, hence the name. The Museum of the Archaeological Park of the Castle of Lettere is being set up inside the tower and it will exhibit the findings of pottery, bronze objects, and myriad animal bones from the excavations that have been carried out since 2007. The finds on display illustrate not only the eating habits and diet of the villagers between the 10th and the 16th centuries, but they also highlight the Mediterranean trade network for transport containers and glazed potteries from Northern Africa, Spain and Sicily. This network included Lettere as part of the routes managed by the Amalfitans.
The site, managed by the Comune, may be visited between 10:00 and 18:00 every day, at a cost of €2. The duties of conservation and safeguarding lie with the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.
Until the 16th March, visitors to the Excavations of Pompeii, in possession of a ticket, will also be able to visit the ‘Castello di Lettere’, and the museum route which has been set up inside the Torre del Grano, free of charge.