Brienza’s charm is sure to captivate any visitor when in the southern region of Basilicata, Italy. This ancient Medieval town flaunts character and above all mystery, with origins dating as far back to the year 1000.
Brienza’s epicentre is none other than the impressive Caracciolo Castle. Located at the top of the hill, you cannot miss the views of this grandiosity from any direction within the town. Guided tours are available here where you can discover its elusive history. The castle keeps with tradition and contains 365 rooms, one for each day of the year. Legend has it that a beautiful young woman named Bianca, once resided in the castle in the 1300’s. Her love for the finer things in life, resulted in a grand collection of rare jewels and immense treasure and her prized possessions were hidden in a secret room within the Castle Caracciolo unbeknown to others. One day while travelling to a seaside town in Calabria, she was suddenly kidnapped by pirates and taken to Africa, where a rich governor decided to keep her there all for himself! Her disappearance was a mystery and still to this day, the secret treasure has yet to be found.
Below the castle, houses cling to the steep rock like moss to a damp wall. The tight fit houses, leaning against one another, reaffirm defence tactics used in the Middle Ages.
Pretty coloured houses and buildings meander their way down through the winding streets of the village. Ancient gates once lead into and out of the village from Via Mario Pagano. Apart from the Castle, a visit to Brienza should include the noble Town Hall Square, where the monument of Francesco Mario Pagano, a citizen and martyr of Brienza in the 18th century, stands. Here you can also find beautiful frescos within an original cloister of the building, and with regular events held here and in the Castle, Brienza attracts a multitude of visitors within the region.
The ancient Church of San Martino, which is possibly the first place of worship in Brienza, dates right back to the High Medieval period of the 7th Century. The church of Santa Maria Assunta, built in the 11th Century and located on the slopes of the Castle, is another unique sight. Built over three levels, many separate altars and a collection of original features, including a 1784 painting of The Deposition, this sanctuary is not to be missed.
Wandering the town by foot is the ultimate way to explore Brienza. And not far from the village are many other local attractions to keep you occupied. A five-minute drive away will see you at the quaint town of Sasso di Castalda, where the longest Tibetan bridge in Italy can be found! Twenty minutes away is Certosa di Padula, the largest Carthusian monastery in the country and now a World Heritage Site. And half an hour away are the Pertosa Caves. The only caves in Italy with an underground river.
Though there are still frequent restorations required after the 1980 earthquake, Brienza is definitely one of the prettiest towns in the region of Basilicata.
Absorb its history and beauty, for it is here that the true feel for slow travel is evident, and fall in love with Brienza, just as I did.
Where to Stay
B&B La Voce del Fiume (the voice of the river), is a unique bed and breakfast at the base of the castle and adjacent to the river. The hospitality is second to none and the serenity is a timeless melody.
Read my full review of B&B La Voce del Fiume here.
Vico del Carmine, 7
85050 Brienza PZ
Tel. +39 0975 38 16 44
Cell. +39 339 2290630
Where to Eat
The Golden Eagle Pizzeria, Bar and Pub is a great place to experience the local Lucanian cuisine. Locally grown senise peppers and healthy greens, Lucanian sausages and Cacioricotta cheese can all be found on the menu, alongside the typical regional pizzas of course. Buonissimo!
Address: Terza Traversa Via Nazionale, 1, 85050 Brienza PZ, Italy
Phone: +39 0975 381070
How to Get There…
From Salerno and Reggio Calabria : take the A3 (SA-RC) exit Atena Lucana-direction SS 598 Fondo Val D’Agri-Exit Brienza
From Bari : reach Salerno-Potenza E847 (SA-PZ) – exit towards Tito- take the SS 95-Brienza exit
From Taranto and Sibari : take the SS 106 Ionica, SS 598 Val d’Agri, Brienza exit
Nearest stations ( Potenza, Salerno ) in combination with regional bus lines
Buses with daily departures from Salerno, Naples (approx. 2 hours), Rome, Policoro