The Oricchio name is closely associated with the extraordinary events of the dramatic and glorious era when the Cilento area took part in the national Risorgimento (Resurgence).
There was no anti-Bourbon (the king of the two Sicilies was a member of the house of Bourbon) conspiracy in which they did not take part. There was no battle against the cruel Bourbon oppression in which one of them did not give up his life.
The history of the noble Oricchio family of the Vallo della Lucania began in 1799 when revolution in the region around Naples led to the establishment of the Parthenopean Republic. Andrea Oricchio, a famous physician in the School of Salerno, was among these heroic conspirators. But the existence of the republic was a troubled one and the Bourbons succeeded in crushing it and in sending to prison or to the gallows the most ardent patriots.
But if the gallows had the power to make the surviving patriots give up their ideal of a free, independent, and and united country, neither the Austrians nor the Bourbons would ever have been booted out. It was, in fact, the threat of the gallows and the cruel and bloody reprisals which incited the patriots to undertake new actions with even more zeal and even though more and more martyrs died for the cause. Further more, although the scourge of the Bourbon police descended without mercy on the population of the Cilento, this did not desist the conspirators from risking their lives.
In 1828, Bonifacio, son of Andrea, was among the members of the organization called the "Filadelfi". Other members of the group were Donato DeMattia, son of a sister of Bonifacio Oricchio, and his brothers Diego and Emilio.
In the spring of 1828, the spark of revolution was ignited in the Cilento. While celebrating Mass, the courageous priest, Antonio DeLuca, an ardent "Carbonaro" ( a patriotic group) suddenly drew out from under his vestments a sword and waving it in the air incited the parishioners to action. Among the first to be aroused by the words of the priest were Bonifacio Oricchio, with two of his five young sons, and his nephews, the DeMattias. The rebels took the fortress of Palinura by surprise and won the soldiers over to their side. They invaded villages, disarmed the police and, blessed by the clergy and cheered on by the people, raised the tricolor flag and proclaimed a constitution. However, the hope that the Neapolitans would follow their brave example was in vain; the heroes of the Cilento remained isolated and the flame which they had ignited was extinguished by Marshal Del Caretto. He dispersed the rebels, burned villages, and imprisoned hundreds of insurgents. The severed head of each conspirator was put in a metal cage and attached to the front wall of the victim's house!
Among those condemned to death were Diego and Emilio DeMattia, the young nephews of Bonifacio Oricchio.
The noblewoman Marianna Oricchio DeMattia repeatedly sought the intervention of the king on their behalf, but in vain. Finally, gaining an audience with the king after many delays, she begged: "You are powerful my lord. You alone can do it. Spare the lives of my two nephews.
The king, smiling, seemed to yield to her prayers: "Choose,'' he said with exquisite cruelty, "which of the two you want freed."
The poor woman her anguish doubled, desperately begged for both their lives, while the king, inhumanly cruel, insisted: "Choose, or they'll both be killed.''
A mournful sound issued from the lips of the miserable woman: "Diego...,"she said, and then she fainted.
When they tried to lift her from the floor, she clutched desperately at the ground and wept saying: "I've killed you, poor Emilio. I've killed you." Shortly thereafter, her eyes took a lifeless gaze and seemed to be fixed on some distant object; she had gone insane.
There was a terrible slaughter of the rebels. Many ended up in prisons and died of starvation and other hardships. Bonifacio Oricchio and his nephew, Donato DeMattia, and along with 300 other prisoners, were taken by force from Vallo della Lucania to Salerno in blazing hot weather. Their hands were bound; they were beaten with clubs and they were tortured in a thousand other ways. Bonifacio and Donato died on the way up the hill leading to Rutino. This inhumanly cruel treatment took place under the eyes of Nicola and Andrea, the very young sons of Bonifacio who were held back by chains from helping their dying father and prohibited by guards from even giving him a last kiss. Suspected of complicity with other rebels the boys were taken to a dark prison while the bodies of their father and cousin remained unburied along the side of the road. A few days later, some compassionate people took the bodies for burial at the cemetery of the Church of San Michele in Rutino.
The two boys were exiled to Potenza, but in 1848, they returned and took an active part in the revolution going on at that time.
In 1848, there was another son, Francesco Saverio Oricchio, only 11 years of age when his father was killed and his brothers were sent into exile, who swore to avenge the death his father and to fight ceaselessly against tyranny.
While still an adolescent, Francesco Saverio Oricchio became a conspirator and then an active revolutionary. Arrested by order of the Bourbon police, he was taken to Naples and thrown in the prison of Santa Maria Apparente which was already overflowing with patriots. He was then sent to the island of Ischia where he remained until 1853. He was then sentenced to internment first at Eboli and later at Mercato San Severino. Finally, on April 4, 1860, he was freed. But the Italian police kept an eye on him as persecutions were continued. His large inheritance was completely lost; he had left only the house where he lived. But he didn't give up and was a worthy descendent of those who for the cause of liberty and for the fatherland had sacrificed their lives and taught their children about the nobility and greatness of these ideals and about value of these sacrifices.
When Vallo della Lucania answered the call of Garibaldi, Francesco Saverio Oricchio, who had just regained his freedom on April 4 of that year, was among the the first to respond and became a member of the brigade led by Stefano Passero.
On October 1, 1860, as a lieutenant of Garibaldi, Francesco Saverio, having fought as a hero and covered with glory, ended his patriotic career on the banks of the Volturno River at the siege of Capua where the first stage of history of a unified Italy was brought to an end.
After having given everything to his country, Francesco Saverio Oricchio returned to his profession of engineering asking for nothing and content to have contributed to the conquest of tyranny so that his children and all Italians could live in freedom.
When he died several years later, still a young man but worn out by the sufferings which he had undergone, he left his many children (eleven), some of them still young, the sad patrimony of nonexistent wealth and privilege. But he also left the memory and the example of a life, his own, spent amidst tribulations, horrors and sacrifices so they could know liberty and justice.
His children silently guarded that splendid inheritance and in the sad period of history that followed, they all retained that combative spirit, intolerant of oppression and tyranny.
Today, the two living children of Francesco Saverio proudly preserve the memory of the past and their father's name; Virginio, who for 50 years has been married to his beloved and faithful Isabella Santospago, a noblewoman from Abruzzi, a region which also came under Bourbon domination, and Ersilia, the youngest daughter, wife of Vincenzo Guerrasio. Both of them, well on in years, but vigorous of mind, keep alive the glorious tradition and pass on to their numerous children and grandchildren, so that they too might preserve it, the burning torch of liberty for which their ancestors had suffered and died.
On the one hundredth anniversary of the ill-fated revolution of Cilento, Vallo della Lucania honored Bonifacio Oricchio and on the house where he was born erected this tablet:
THE TOWN AND CITIZENS
CONSECRATE THIS MEMORIAL TO ETERNAL MEMORY