Melfi, Italy

 Melfi, the town in Basilicata in southern Italy, is a farming and tourist center well known for its wine. It takes it name from the Melpes River running through the area. Melfi is on the Northern Slope of Mount Vulture and is close to the Italian regions of Puglia and Campania.

Early Italian tribes settled the area, and the Romans incorporated it into the colony of Venusia. Melfi expanded in significance during the Middle Ages because it was a tactical point between land controlled by the Byzantines and Lombard’s. After the power struggle in the area, the Hauteville family ruled the city and used it as their starting point to take control of southern Italy leading to the Kingdom of Sicily. The Emperor Frederick II published his Constitutions of Melfi declaring his control over a growing territory. The town and region experienced decay after a series of earthquakes.

Medival Castle, Melfi, Basilicata, ItalyThe town has been hit by numerous earthquakes that have damaged the castle built by the Normans (from the 11th to 13th century, and the cathedral, built in the 1700s. The Campanile remains intact.

Most of Melfi’s attractions are historical and religious in nature.

The Duomo or Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, designed in the baroque style, still has the unique Norman bell towers. The 13th century fresco, the Madonna with Child and Angels is inside the church along with a wooden choir from the 16th century, and the organ from the mid-1700s.

The town’s other churches that might be worth visiting are S. Maria La Muova, built in the 13th century and Sant Antonio, established in the 15 century.

The Palazzo del Vescovado or Bishopric Palace was constructed in the 11th century but was remodeled in the 1700s using a Baroque design.

The castle towers over the entire town. It was likely built by the Normans because no suggestion of earlier construction exists. In the beginning, it started out as a rectangle with square towers plus other towers were built to protect the main gate. One of the primary interior buildings was transformed into a palace. Later rulers added a new segment on one of the hills going down to the Melfi stream. The control of the palace was circulated among various ruling families. Currently, the Castle hosts the Museo Nazionale Archeologico with displays of artifacts from various historical periods including archaic times, Greek, Roman, and Etruscan. In addition, it exhibits the sarcophagus of Rapolla, a sculpture dating from the 2nd century CE.

Melfi holds a variety of festivals throughout the year including the Feast of Sant’ Allesandro in February, Feast of the Holy Spirit during Pentacost, the City Literary Prize in September, and theVarola Town Festival during October, among many more.

Melfi is about an hours drive from Potenza. Potenza is a stopping point on the railroad from Salerno to Taranto. It also has a connection to Altamura.

Melfi has several rated accommodations: Casa Laviano B & B, Albergo II Teto, Relais la Fattoria, and Hotel Due Pini.


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