ACERENZA

In the North of Basilicata, half way between Irsina and Avigliano, on top of a cliff at the foot of which runs the Bradano river and its tributary stream, Fiumarella, is where the ancient centre of Acheruntia is situated in a wonderful panoramic position.

History

There are archaeological testimonies dating back to Neolithic times which have been found in the Serra Altura, whilst on Mount La Guardia, remains of habitations date back to the Iron Age. Prehistoric finds show that the territory of Acerenza was inhabited from the beginning of time by our ancestors.

It is certain that Acerenza already existed during the VI century BC, and was probably founded long before the Osci civilisation by the name of Akere. It was then later known by the Greeks as Acherontis. A tomb and a statue depicting Hercules were found on the territory.

The Romans conquered it during 318 BC, led by the Consul Giunio Bubulco. Acerenza became a military fort the following century in support to the wars against King Pirro of Epiro.
Acheruntia was re-conquered by Rome, led by the Consul Levino during 210 BC. It then entered as a permanent part of the Republic of Rome, firstly becoming a colony then a town (I century BC).

During the V century it became an Episcopal Seat.
Following the fall of Rome, Acerenza was occupied by Totila, King of the Ostrogoths from 541 to 552, after a victorious battle against the Byzantine army, who then occupied all of Southern Italy.

Little remains from the Eastern Roman Empire, and already during the VII century, the village of Acerenza became part of the Longobard dominium. The latter had the Castle built and re-adjusted numerous times and made Acerenza the capital of a gastaldato (a royal demesne with civil, martial and judicial powers) under the Principality of Salerno.
During the VIII century, a cathedral was constructed under the wishes of Bishop Leone II.

The Byzantines re-conquered it during 978, but only kept it for a few decades. Midway through the XI century, Acerenza was already Norman property under Robert Guiscard, who entrusted the village to Count Umfredo, who was later succeeded by Asclettino.
A new cathedral was built during the same century.

Acerenza merged into the Swabian Empire at the end of the XII century and was administered by Galvano Lancia, uncle to Prince Manfred.

Under the Angioinians (XII century), Acerenza acquired further importance for its strategic geographic position between Rome and the Orient. Village nobles were represented by the following families: Sanseverino, Durazzo, Ruffo, Barnota and Morra.

During 1456 it was gravely damaged by an earthquake, killing more than 1000 citizens.
During the ‘500s, under Spanish domination, important restoration work of the Cathedral and Bell Tower was carried out.

During successive centuries, Acerenza was administered by the Ferrillo, Orsini, Pinelli, Pignatelli-Belmonte and Lancillotti families, then finally acquired by the Panni Family for 21.500 ducats.
After the Republican and Renaissance experiences, Acerenza merged into the Reign of Italy during 1861.

A visit to the City

Acerenza is a Medieval village, which wholly preserves its evocative power. One enters through what remains of the San Canio Doorway, which opens up along the Medieval town-walls. Whilst walking up to the summit, one can admire richly decorated 18th century buildings (Saluzzi, Caramuta). On arrival at the top of the hill, a majestic vision of the most interesting cathedrals in all of Basilicata awaits the visitor: S. Canio or the Assunta (XI century).

Other interesting churches to visit are: San Laverio, the Annunziata and San Vincenzo, close to the completely restructured Castle.

Outside the historical centre, one can visit the Sant’Antonio Convent, seat of a museum which exhibits carved wooden works.

Places of Interest

The Romanesque Assunta and San Canio Cathedral (XI century); the Annunziata Church (‘200); the San Laviero or Purgatorio Church; the cylindrical Belmonte Castle Towers; - the Sant’Antonio Convent (1570), the Piani of Maddalena and the Casa Contadina (Country House).

ACERENZA
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Basilicata region of Italy

 

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