Venosa

Member of the Prettiest Villages in Italy Club (I Borghi più belli d’Italia), the true symbol of Venosa is the Unfinished Church of the Trinity, an evocative symphony in stone, which seduces the observer by its very incompleteness. In 1915 Norman Douglas wrote in his travel diary Old Calabria: “The city’s greatest architectural beauty is the Benedictine Abbey of the Trinity, now in ruins… The ruin is a place of rare enchantment: it is not easy to find relics of Roman, Jewish and Norman life crammed into such a small area, held together by the massive but beautiful architecture of the Benedictines while at the same time permeated by a Mephistophelian spirit of modern indifference”.

In the Archaeological Park one can visit the Roman baths, remains of private Roman houses (domus) and the amphitheatre. Archaeological excavations have also brought to light a patrician house of the 1st century AD, called “the House of Horace,” Jewish catacombs containing a series of hypogei discovered in 1853 (the presence of a large Jewish community is attested to by numerous epigraphic and artistic remains), as well as a Palaeolithic site dating to a time period 600,000-300,000 years ago.

Little of the Longobard castle remains, while the massive structure of the Aragonese castle, still watches over the daily life of this ancient village. On the western tower the del Balzo coat of arms can be seen, depicting a blazing sun. This rugged castle, with its four cylindrical towers, was later transformed into a elegant residence by the Gesualdo family,
Abounding in artistic fountains, among the most beautiful are the Angevin (1228), that of Messer Oto (1313) and the 15th-century San Marco fountain.

Venosa also boasts examples of splendid civic architecture. The most remarkable include the 18th-century Palazzo Calvino, with its elegant façade, the Palazzo del Balì, begun in the 14th century, seat of the religious order of the Knights of Malta, Palazzo Dardes and Palazzo Lauridia, both 18th-century constructions, and the imposing Palazzo Rapolla, which dates to the second half of the 17th century.

     

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