Duomo, Potenza
, Basilicata

Long view of Potenza
, Basilicata

Castel Lago Pesole, Basilicata

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by Jesse Andrews. Please Contact VisitsItaly.Com for reproduction of any kind at: team@italyvacationspecialists.com

Welcome to Potenza
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 69,295 (2003)
Official site:
Wikipedia: Potenza

Potenza, was first settled by the Lucanians who, during the 3rd Century BC, took refuge here after the
Romans destroyed other parts of what was then Lucania.  However, by the 2nd Century BC even this redoubt fell under Roman control.  But the Romans, in due course, lost their empire, and the city was sacked by the Goths, then over the centuries fell under the control of succeeding powers: the Longobards, Byzantines, Normans, Holy Roman Empire, the Aragonese and the Bourbons.

Long prone to damage from earthquake, it was utterly shaken by a quake in 1694, and another in 1980.  In between, the allies devastated the Potenza with heavey air bombardments in 1943 during the 2nd World War.

The "modern" rebuilt city, featuring many featureless apartment buildings, office complexes and light industrial establishments but also much of its medieval aspect, spreads over several hills at an elevation of over 820 meters (2700 feet) on the flanks of the southern Appenines in an area that from an economic point of view, remains quite poor.  The City is the capital of the Region of Basilicata and Potenza Province.

The Centro Storico centers around Piazza Matteotti fronted by the Palazzo del Comune.  Nearby is the  Duomo, dedicated to Saint Gerard, who is Potenza's patron saint.  Originally constructed in the 12th Century, the cathedral was rebuilt in the late 1770s.

The Church of San Francesco, started in the late 11th Century 1274 which has survived both earthquakes and bombings.  Inside, one finds a Renaissance sepulchre and a number of paintings including the aptly named Madonna del Terremoto (Our Lady of the Earthquake) done in the Byzantine style during the 13th century.

The Provincial Archaeological Museum, displaying artifacts of Lucanian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and later artifacts is near the Chiesa Santa Maria built in the 12th Century.  Another church of interest, Saint Michael the Archangel was built in the Romanesque style in the 12th Century.

At the top of the City are the ruins of an old Norman fort, probably built on the foundations of the Roman and Byzantine fortresses that preceded it.  The Castle tower, which has more or less survived, was built prior to the 11th Century.

Potenza, with its mild climate, and as the capital city of Basilicata, is a growing university town with a vibrant and friendly atmosphere. It  merits a visit, if for no other reason than to pass through the spectacular, earthquake fractured landscape, consisting of rugged  mountains and wide, verdant valleys where the durable people of the area have farmed for centuries.

Leaving Potenza and traveling north on the Potenza-Candela superstrada, past the turn-off for Castel Lago Pesole, where Frederick II built a massive Swabian castle, one encounters an enormous valley surrounded by seven peaks in the Vulture range.  In the valley, there are two glittering alpine lakes, but also miles of cultivated feeds, vineyards and olive groves.

Sometimes, the rebuilt cities of the Mezzogiorno - the South of Italy - have a kind of off-putting rawness, a seeming lack of sophistication.  But, stand in their midst, mindful of their history and the various devastations that have been visited upon them, and you might see through the mist of sentimentality through which visitors see Italy.  What one sees of course, is ultimately life affirming.

by Vian Andrews, September 25th, 2005





Provinical Archaeological Museum

Old church, Potenza
, Basilicata



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