According to the sources, Bruttians were a tribe that in 356 BC separated itself by the Lucanians, an Italic population of Oscan descent, coming from Abruzzi and Molise. The fall of the short-lived Bruttian people is directly tied to the events of the war against Hannibal (219-202 BC), in which the majority of the Bruttian population took a pro-Carthaginian stance. This fact triggered a hate propaganda by the Romans, who changed their ethnic name (Bruttii in place of Brettii), in order to highlight their alleged characters of rudeness and barbarism – obviously, this was merely the outcome of a smear campaign.
The topographical studies conducted in recent years throughout the area of the Middle Cosentian-Tyrrhenian Coast, between Belvedere Marittimo and Acquappesa, allowed for the recognition of about sixty sites, located on the hillside terraces and in prominent points along the natural routes for travel and cattle track. The documentation available today comes from some excavations conducted on a small group of necropoleis (Treselle di Cetraro) (fig. 72) and at least four housing facilities in Acquappesa, in addition to the collection made during the intensive surveys carried out in a sample area in the territory of Acquappesa and Cetraro. The investigations allowed for the creation of a settlement pattern, according to which the whole territory features a widespread system of small rural farms, which were scattered and not directly tied to a major settlement. The farms occupied in a systematic manner the seaside hills of the area, located on the hillside along cattle tracks, served by a road that followed the ridge. The planimetric data related to these farms resulted from the sites investigated during the excavation: Aria del Vento, Chiantima and Martino in Acquappesa and S. Barbara in Cetraro.
The area of Belvedere Marittimo features instead the presence of Bruttian burials of the “cappuccina” type (tiles arranged on a sloping floor), whose grave goods are characterised by black painted, red figured or achromatic vases, dating back to the Hellenistic period (IV-III centuries BC). The sites and materials suggest a widespread presence of burial grounds, located in different hillside sites – Pantana, Santo Ianni, Trifari, Palazza, and the promontory of Capo Tirone, a settlement near the coast with landing facilities. Only the evidences collected in Trifari seem to be linked to a settlement, perhaps a farm, located on the natural route of penetration towards the Pass of Scalone and Mount Montea, on the extreme western spur of Mount La Caccia.
Some Roman settlements were already located along the Tyrrhenian coast at the end of the II century BC, and lasted up to the III-IV century AD. These Villae exploited the area both on an agricultural and a residential basis: the area was very fit for otium and holidays, then the production surplus could be exported by sea or by land. Some remains of these villas are still present today in Belvedere Marittimo, with a few fragments of walls and several pottery fragments in Santa Litterata, or even in areas such as Marina, Cotura, Rocca, Fontanelle, Paradiso and Vetticello.
The nearby villages of Bonifati and Sangineto show also some signs of the Bruttian presence, which is widespread and punctiform. There is an important site in Civita di Sangineto, located along the access road to the Pass of Scalone and from there to Sybaris, that was probably a housing facility and has still to be explored in its archaeological potential, and there are also some farms and small groups of graves in Crucicella, S. Candido, S. Vrasi, Piano del Monaco and S. Basile di Bonifati.
The archaeological researches carried out in Acquappesa on the hillside spurs between the 70s and today contributed to the creation of a very detailed and comprehensive settlement pattern of the Italic and Bruttian peoples. The area of Serra-Manco is a large hilly range behind the town of Acquappesa, located at more than 300 m above sea level, with extensive views on the sea. The local oral tradition reports the occasional discovery of graves, either of the”cappuccina” or “cassa” (slabs) type, with red-figure pottery (including one with a draped female figure, attributed to the Apulianizing Painter), burnt ceramics (perhaps belonging to a cremation site or bustum), a horse bit made of lead, and other materials dating back from the second half of IV century to the first half of III century BC. On the same slope, at the end of the 40s, a small bronze figure of a peplophoros, i.e. a support of a bronze mirror (length: 18 cm) with a female character, dressed in a long, dotted chiton (second half of the V century BC), was found within the Bellamora estate.
Many data come instead from housing facilities: the building located on the terrace of Aria del Vento, at an altitude of 300 m above sea level, has a rectangular plan, consisting only of two rooms, whereas the building found in the area of Chiantima, also consisting of two rooms, is partly obliterated by a church dating back to the XV-XVI centuries AD, according to the materials found. In the area of Martino in Acquappesa, on a small summit plateau (300 m), a single, large rectangular room has been partially investigated (7,50×3,50 m, 26.25 sqm), which perhaps was suddenly abandoned due to a rockfall or a landslide.
From the scanty presence of stones in the excavation area, we must assume that these were mostly used as foundations and that the walls had to be raised in perishable materials, such as crude bricks, clay or timber. The documentation suggests that the interiors of the farm are covered by a straw roof, made of perishable materials (branches, brushwood, small logs); a heavy coverage, however, was used for some external storage porches, similar to the ones discovered in Lucanian farms, where the structures have two or more rooms with a rectangular plan in line, arranged around a courtyard with a small oikos, i.e. a storage of foodstuffs. All the analysed dwellings present a single stage of life, dated back, according to the materials, between the last quarter of the IV and the first quarter of the III century BC.