Venosa

Castle, Piazza Umberto I, Venosa

Castle, Piazza Umberto I, Venosa

We went to Venosa, in the province of Potenza, in January, as a sort of belated celebration of my birthday. We arrived from the west, and as we passed through wide and straight streets, lined with modern buildings, I began to wonder whether we shouldn’t have gone to Pescocostanzoinstead. Then, at Piazza Umberto I, where the imposing fifteenth-century castle of marks the beginning of the old town, I realized that I had made the right choice after all.

Piazza Orazio

Piazza Orazio

Venosa was once Venustae, the Roman city where Horace was born. As an art historian, I know him as art historians do: the source of the influential “ut pictura poesis,” though if memory serves me (and really, it should, given how important those three words were to the work I once did,) more was made out of them in later centuries than Horace meant. The poet is honored throughout the old town with quotes affixed to the exterior walls of buildings, and with a piazza, graced by a monument.

Lion, sculptural detail of the fountain of Messer Oto, ca. 1313-14

Lion, sculptural detail of the fountain of Messer Oto, ca. 1313-14

The day that we arrived I spent the afternoon walking around the old town while N and Pata rested at the hotel. For three hours I circled the narrow streets, holding my camera in my cold hands, remembering my life before I moved to Italy and before I married, when I was free to explore and observe and spend half and hour looking a single building, if I wanted. (It was exhilarating.)

S. Biagio, sixteenth century, partial view of the façade

S. Biagio, sixteenth century, partial view of the façade

Finial, San Biagio

Finial, San Biagio

Angevin fountain in Piazza Umberto I, thirteenth century (the lions are Roman)

Angevin fountain in Piazza Umberto I, thirteenth century (the lions are Roman)

Lion, Angevin fountain (that I couldn't get a sharp focus here breaks my heart)

Lion, Angevin fountain (that I couldn’t get a sharp focus here breaks my heart)

Venosa’s centro storico has beautiful white-paved streets and elegant old palazzi, many of them in an elegant state of decline. This one was my favorite; if I owned it, I would leave the façade exactly as it is:

No. 119

No. 119

Venosa House 119 wooden door

Wooden door, No. 119

Venosa is perhaps best known for L’ Incompiuta, the unfinished eleventh-century church of Santissima Trinità, and the reason that I wanted to travel to the town. We didn’t get past the narthex of the old church because N wasn’t too keen on waiting in the cold until mass was finished, so I made do with looking at it between the iron bars of a tall fence and shooting some photos while Pata tromped through the grass.

Ssa. Trinita, façade, eleventh century

Ssa. Trinita, façade, eleventh century

Lion, detail of the façade, Ssa. Trinità

Lion, detail of the façade, Ssa. Trinità

Detail of stonework with spolia, Ssa. Trinità

Detail of stonework with spolia, Ssa. Trinità

Pata with Lion, Ssa. Trinità

Pata with Lion, Ssa. Trinità

 We have plans to return this summer, to see L’ Incompiuta, and further explore the town and its surrounding area in Basilicata (my new favorite region.) More photos of Venosa in my next post.

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4 responses to “Venosa

  1. Thanks for a mini trip to a part of Italy I've never seen. Love your pictures! Especially, the last one!

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