Perched on a cliff of tuff more than 800 meters above sea level, it is truly the caelsae nidum Acherontiae, the “eagle’s nest of Acerenza” described by the Latin poet Horace, born in nearby Venosa. Acerenza is member of the Prettiest Villages in Italy Club (I Borghi più belli d’Italia)
The layout of the town is that of the typical medieval walled village. To those arriving from Puglie, Acerenza shows its northeastern side in all its imposing compactness, highlighting the rear complex of the Cathedral, harmonizing with the urban fabric and with the uniform building materials (local sandstone) and color of the façades and roofs. The imposing 11th-century Cathedral, in a Romanesque-Cluniacensian style, towers above the rest of the village skyline.
Leaving the cathedral, after admiring the 16th-century former court building, which stands out for its beautiful Mediterranean romanella, one may stroll through the tiny streets of the historic center and linger before the impressive 18th-century aristocratic residences, with their stone doorways, embellished with simple sculptures or the coats of arms of venerable Acerenza families.
Facing Largo Gianturco is the old Curia building, which occupies part of the old Lombard-Norman-Suevian castle, partially rebuilt in the 1950s. Near the San Canio gate is the 18th-century Palazzo Gala, with a romanella cornice and portals in carved stone. Opposite stands the noble San Vincenzo chapel, also from the 18th century, with a stucco-decorated cross vault.