The opulence of the field products – besides the strategic position in the way toward the South – has also favored the settlements since ancient times.
It follows a great number of archaeological and artistic testimonies.
Nuceria Alfaterna, founded around the middle of the VI century. B.C., was at the head of the Lega Nocerina (sannitic confederation which also Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabia and Sorrento belonged to). The Monumental Necropolis of Pizzone characterized by magnificent funeral mausoleums of republican and imperial age, the Hellenistic-Roman Theater of Pareti (one of the greatest play buildings of ancient Campania), the colossal Roman Amphitheatre, in the Grotti resort (still buried under sheets of mud) still remain at the moment. The early Christian art in the Sarno Valley is documented by the magnificent Baptistery of Santa Maria Maggiore (half VI century A.D.), in whose construction architectural material of the sorting of the Hole and perhaps of the Theatre were reemployed: the mighty columns in polychrome marbles, epigraphs, frames, shelves, trabeation and paralance (structural and decorative architectural elements). In all the Municipalities that compose the Ager, the archaeological and historical-artistic traces are abundantly documented: you can think about the wide protohistoric necropolis of San Marzano or San Valentino Torio, dominated by the fossakultur (culture of the ditch grave), the great republican rustic villas (villa Prete, villa Vesuvio) that in the last years are resurfacing from the city territory of Scafati, the castles and the towers (Sarno, Castel San Giorgio, Angri, Nocera Inferiore).
The sphere of the sacred also has its places of cult, famous in the whole region: from the papal Basilica of Sant’Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori in Pagani and of Materdomini in Nocera Superiore (since centuries great folkloristic and devotional attractions), to the cathedral of San Prisco in Vescovado (Nocera Inferiore), where the wonderful fresco of the Heaven by Angelo and Francesco Solimena is preserved.This work of art is considered by the critics housed the most beautiful “sottinsù” of the Neapolitan Baroque. Not as forgetting the museum spaces: from the Pinacoteca to the Museo Provinciale dell’Agro Nocerino, attached to the Convent of Sant’Antonio in Nocera Inferiore, to the Museo Alfonsiano in Pagani, to the new Lapidarium, prepared thanks to the funds of the Patto dell’Agro S.p.A.,close to the early Christian Baptistery in Nocera Superiore, nearby the archaeological Museum of Sarno, lodged into the Capua Palace.
Suggestions the territory offers for a brief stop or a more meditated and relaxing one, even following less usual itineraries, are various: along the great routes of the tourism from Pompeii toward the expanses of the sinus paestanus, the three great Magna-Greek temples of Paestum dominate the landscape. The variety of the landscape, now more elevated (Corbara, Sant’Egidio del Monte Albino), now piedmont (Roccapiemonte, Sarno, Castel San Giorgio, Siano), now flat (Scafati, San Valentino Torio, San Marzano, Angri, Pagani, Nocera Inferiore and Superiore) allows an ample choice of routes that allows one to appreciate the gastronomic specialities (for instance, the “panatelle” with aubergines and anchovies prepared in occasion of the feast of Materdomini in “ferragosto” – august holyday), the products of the earth (for example the San Marzano tomatoes, the “cipollotto nocerino” or the juicy cherry from Siano) as well as handmade articles: among them, the straw and spartan chairs which are still possible to find in the narrow streets of Pagani.
Extract from "Guida alla Valle del Sarno" Istituto geografico De Agostini 2006