In Contrada Avinella, in the Basento valley between Bernalda and Metaponto, it is possible to admire the remains of a castle with a fortified monastery, known as “Petra or Wall of St Giovanni”.
In the 6th century BC, the period of greatest splendour for ancient Metapontion, this area was covered by the chora, the rural territory outside the walls of the polis, studded with farms, which was the protagonist of a process of agricultural development and consequent economic prosperity. After the destruction of Metaponto, many refugees moved to the inland areas, even as far as Matera, and some of them settled on farms that became real villages.
This site, as can be seen from the citations, was densely populated until the 13th century. From documents in the Royal Neapolitan Archive we learn that, in the Middle Ages, the monastery and the whole of the Avinella territory up to Torre di Mare were donated by the noble owners to the monks of the Order of St Giovanni, hence the present name. In the fortified monastery there was a church dedicated to the saint and around the castle there was the Casale Avinella. After its destruction, caused by a violent earthquake or by the Saracens, the inhabitants moved near the Church of San Donato where they founded (or helped to populate) the village of Camarda.
The wall fragment in situ is reminiscent, in the way it is presented, of the drawing of two human profiles facing opposite cardinal points: past and future. Almost a warning that urges us to continue to investigate and study, to discover and enhance what the few historical data on this site can still reveal.