Basilicata - Places to Visit - Potenza
Situated 819 m. above sea level, on the hills overlooking the high valley of the Basento River, this is the highest chief town in the Italian provinces, second only to Enna (Sicily).
Its origins are very old; here, in the 2nd century BC. Rome founded a colony of Piceni, then during the Imperial period it became an important centre.
After domination by the Goths and the Byzantines, Potenza was annexed to the Lombard Duchy of Benevento and afterwards to the Principality of Salerno.
In the 11th century, it was conquered by the Normans and from then, on it shared the fortunes of the Kingdom of Sicily (then of Naples and the Two Sicilies), though often the field of powerful overlords. In 1860, it was annexed to Italy. Since it lies in a sismic area, Potenza has been partly destroyed or damaged over the centuries by various earthquakes, the last occurring in November 1980.
Among the best known Monuments: Cattedrale di S. Gerardo (Cathedral, 12th century, `altered' in the 18th century), Chiesa di S. Francesco (Church, 13th century), Chiesa di S. Michele (Romanesque church, 12th century), Chiesa di S. Maria del Sepolcro (Church, 13th century), Scalinata del Popolo (Steps).
The economy of this town is still based partly on agriculture, breeding and connected activities; recently, however, there has been satisfactory industrial growth within the framework of an area development plan provided for by the State.
The industrial sector, though generally characterized by small and medium-size companies, is active in chemicals, textiles, foods, engineering, building materials and wood. Public employment is high, and linked to the administrative functions of a regional and provincial capital.
Events: Regional Fair of Basilicata; Cavalcata dei Turchi (Ride of the Turks), on 29th May during the Festa of S. Gerardo (Feast); Sagra di San Rocco (15th August, feast).
Famous People: Tullio Balsamo (theologian, 16th century), Antonio Busciolano (sculptor, 1823-1871), Francesco Stabile (composer, 1802-1861), Ascanio Branca (economist, 1840-1903), Giovanni Paladino (biologist, 1840-1917).
Cultural Institutions: Archivio di Stato (State Archives), Biblioteca provinciale (Library), `F. Stabile' Theater, Conservatory, Museo Archeologico Provinciale (Provincial Archaeological Museum), University of Basilicata.
In the Province: Melfi (National Museum of the Melfi area), Rivello (copper crafts), Rionero in Vulture (Istituto Statale d'Arte - State Art School), Muro Lucano (environmental interest), Barile (Processione dei Misteri - Religious Processions on Good Friday), S. Arcangelo (Convent of S. Maria di Orsoleo, 16th century), Atella (14th century cathedral), Abriola-La Sellata (ski resort), Venosa (birthplace of the Latin poet Horace; prehistoric site).