Potenza, the capital of Basilicata, is located in the Basento valley, along the Apennine mountains, and is surrounded by high hills. The city itself has different “levels” as well – the old town stands on an 800 m hill, whereas the new town of Potenza goes all the way down to the river Basento. The old town of Potenza is accessible not only by car but also by a funicular.
Potenza is located in the earthquake-prone area, and this is the reason why a lot of medieval architecture has not survived through the centuries. The city was damaged also by the events of World War II. However, nowadays, surrounded by amazing green landscape, the city of Potenza has become a truly beautiful place, which is worth visiting at least once in life.
What to see in Potenza
The medieval castle of Potenza, unfortunately, has not survived through the centuries, but its tower – Torre Guevara – is now one of the main sights of the city. Other medieval architecture remains are the gates of Saint John (Porta San Giovanni), Saint Luca (Porta San Luca) and Saint Gerard (Porta San Gerardo).
The churches, however, are in a good condition and they are functioning churches – the Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Gerardo) for example, is dedicated to the city patron. Although the Cathedral belongs to the 18th century, the restorers in the 60s found the remains of the ancient mosaic floors of the 5th century B.C.
Another interesting church is the Church/Monastery of Saint Francesco (Chiesa di San Francesco e convent), which was built in the 13th century. Locals also recommend visiting the church of Saint Michael (Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo) – 11th century and the Templar monastery – Santa Maria del Sepolcro. For those seeking ancient artifacts – visit the Archeological museum of Basilicata, and you will be impressed by the exhibition.
The historic center starts from the main square – Piazza Maria Pagano. From there, take Via Pretoria for shopping and restaurants. Via Pretoria is the main street of the city, so many important historic buildings are located there. For example, Palazzo del Governo and the building of the theater “Stabile”. The churches mentioned above are also located along this street.
Overall, Potenza gives a very welcoming impression – being not spoiled with the mass international tourism yet, it gives an experience of the real authentic old city, with its history, architecture, traditions. Together with breathtaking landscape, the atmosphere of this town is likely to win over anyone’s heart!
Locals recommend visiting the lake of Pantato di Pignola, which is an artificial lake just a few kilometers away from the city. It is a popular place for a quiet getaway. Other places worth visiting around Potenza are Acerenza, Melfi, Venosa and Castelmezzano. Castelmezzano is highly popular for extreme lovers – from there you can take a famous zip-wire ride called “Flight of an Angel” – it is done on the 1452 meters height!