Visit Grumento Nova
"Grumentum" was an important city of Magna Graecia, in Lucania, towards the Gulf of Taranto, between Abellinum Marsicum and Heracle. Today it is called "Grumento Nova" and falls within the basilicata region of southern Italy.
It is the historical ruins from this early period in the Archaeological Park of Grumentum that are the main attraction for visitors (see below), but first we introduce the other highlights and monuments of interest in Grumento Nova itself.
Grumento Nova old town
Among the buildings of considerable prestige in Grumento Nova, start your visit at the Castle of the Sanseverino. According to studies the castle was built around the middle of the 11th century by the Counts of Montescaglioso, and rebuilt in the 18th century by the Counts of Sanseverino.
The castle consisted of four floors, and was surmounted by a high tower. It has thirty niches with frescoes depicting angels holding mirrors with their right hands, with some of the scenes symbolically depicting astronomy, astronomy and agriculture.
On the outer face the coat of arms of the Sanseverino is painted, being a double shield with a red stripe on a white ground and two grooms holding two horses.
Among the religious buildings in Grumento Nova we must mention the Mother Church, dedicated to St. Anthony martyr of Apamea and built in the early 12th century on the site of a temple of Roman origin of the 3rd-4th century AD that was dedicated to the goddess Serapis.
After the earthquake of 1857, the church was rebuilt in neoclassical style with a Latin cross layout, a semicircular apse and a square shape bell tower. In the interior, on the left above the altar, there is a 17th century wooden tabernacle and in the chapel is the “Virgin of Monserrato,” dating from the 17th century, holding the Child on her right arm.
Another notable monument in Grumento is the Chapel of the Rosary, in Piazza Caputi and dating from the second half of the 17th century. The façade, characterized by a large portal, and dating from the 18th century, is divided by six pilasters and a cornice supporting a tympanum.
The chapel interior has a single nave and a baroque style altar. The apse is decorated with stucco and pillars are depicted with the four Evangelists, while in the central niche there is a 17th century polychrome wooden statue of the Madonna of Constantinople, by an unknown sculptor.
Other important buildings in the old city include the Chapel of Santa Maria della Pietà, the palaces of the Danio and Giliberti families (16th century), the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria (19th century) and the Church of St. Infantino, of the tenth century, with smooth facade and a bell tower.
Last but not least we mention the Giliberti Chapel, built by the Sanseverino in the 13th century; it was destroyed by the earthquake of 1857 and then was rebuilt a few years later.
Archaeological Park of Grumentum
Not far from Grumento Nova is the Archaeological Park of Grumentum. The ruins of the ancient city are on a hill between the river Agri and the river Sciaura.
The urban layout of the city is very simple, with three main streets and various narrow streets. The city was originally surrounded by a wall almost three kilometers long with six gates. Part of the walls was built in 'opus reticulatum' [courses of brick and rectangular stone blocks], and the restoration of the walls in 57 BC is attested by two inscriptions.
At the entrance of the park is the Theater, built during the Julio-Claudian age. From here you enter Temple A, dedicated to Harpocrates, an Egyptian deity whose cult spread in the Hellenistic period. On this road there is also the "domus of mosaics", a patrician residence with niches dedicated to the Lares which gave access to the so-called “Terme Repubblicane” (republican baths).
Since the establishment of the Archaeological Park of Grumentum the various parts of the Republican Baths have been used for public services: a Bar (in the apodyterium), a book-shop (in the frigidarium) and a teaching room (in the caldarium). Recently a round temple called “Mundus” has been discovered*.
Archaeological Museum at Grumentum
The Archaeological Museum is very interesting and instructive and brings together many artefacts covering the period from prehistory to the Ancient Romans.
Your visit starts with the section dedicated to prehistoric times, which has bones of "Elephans antiquus," and teeth from horses dating back 500,000 years. From the Bronze Age (second half of the second millennium BC) are artefacts such as ceramic bowls decorated with meanders and spirals.
The Archaic period is represented by a set of Etruscan burial objects such as a bronze basin. The Greek presence is seen in objects such as spears and spits, while from Roman times there are belts, spears and various other objects of daily use, and also votive statuettes, fragments of marble statues such as the veiled head of Livia Drusilla (58 BC-29 AD), wife of Emperor Augustus (63 BC-14 AD), and a 2nd century ivory pyxis with Dionysiac scenes in relief.
Also on display in the museum are polychrome mosaics and four Greek statues of the second century AD and a Lombard coin with the image of Emperor Heraclius (610-641). In the last room of the museum, there is a bas-relief depicting the local martyr Saint Laverio (312 AD).
After your visit to the Archaological Park return to Grumento Nova where the knowledge of the ancient traditions of the city can continue with your meal, because Grumento Nova offers a wide range of local dishes.
Among the many options we should mention some of our favourite dishes for gourmets, such as the so-called "làgane", the “macaràn a l'ugn”, the baked bread and the "polenta of the peasant.”
See also history of Grumento Nova
Note: photo by Nando Scafroglia is copyright
Map of Grumento Nova and places to visit
Grumento Nova places to visit
See more places nearby in the Basilicata guide