Five things to do in Potenza
The guidebooks don’t really recommend a visit to the regional capital of Basilicata. But we had a great time and enjoyed these five things to do in Potenza.
Potenza in Basilicata spreads across a high ridge 819 metres above sea level making it the highest regional capital in Italy. For this reason the weather often appears uninviting – at least when we’ve passed through – but this summer we finally stopped to have a look around.
The guidebooks don’t really recommend a visit, unless you have to change trains. Potenza has been ravaged by war and earthquakes, and very few of the ancient town’s original buildings have survived. So, even if Potenza can trace its roots back to pre-Roman times, don’t expect to find historic architectural and archaeological gems.
Instead Potenza is a place to relax and enjoy a slice of authentic south Italian living. Get to know the people, who are generally friendly and talkative even if the local dialect presents some challenges. Or follow these suggestion of five things to do in Potenza.
No town without a church visit
The cathedral built in rough grey stones in the 12th century is one of the only historical buildings still standing, and for this reason alone it is a must-see. The church is located in a charming square where crowds of young people hang out at night and it is surrounded by pretty houses some of which have been part of a former convent structure.
Window shopping in Via Pretoria
Via Pretoria is the main shopping street and the place to go for a nice passeggiata in the evening. It’s a souvenir free zone and there are few – if any – international chain stores around, which means you may find something unusual in the local shops with evocative names like ‘Redford’ and ‘Singer Magic Music’.
Hang out in front of the theatre
Piazza Mario Pagano in front of Palazzo del Governo and the theatre is an architectural atrocity with monstrous rusty lamplights. But kids love to play football in the square when daylight fades. There are giggling teenagers and coffee and drink sipping adults in cafés and porticoes along the periphery. And some Sunday mornings flea market vendors line up with old scooters, matchbox cars and other collector’s items.
Ancient pottery sherds
The archaeological museum charges an entrance fee of 2,5 euro. This modest sum gives you access to an impressively large collection of ancient Greek and Roman pottery, jewellery and religious objects found in catacombs and graves in eg. Metaponto and Matera. I won’t forget the beautiful bronze bird or the chequered, ceramic house with four feet.
Holiday step workout
Potenza is a delight of free exercise. There is supposed to be elevators to the old centre on the top of the hill from Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, but it’s more fun to use the omnipresent stairs as holiday step workout.