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Visit Vaglio Basilicata
The historic center of Vaglio Basilicata, a town on the ridge of a hill in the Basilicata region of southern Italy, still retains its clear medieval structure despite various transformations over the centuries.
As well as the historic centre with its cobbled streets, the churches and local archaeological sites and the museum are the principal sites of interest in the town.
Explore Vaglio Basilicata: tourism and visitor guide
The historic town of Vaglio Basilicata is centered around Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Municipio, where the main gates of the old town center were established and still found today in their original structure. The village, probably originally built around a Norman fortress, has an elliptical shape that it has kept since the early Middle Ages.
At the end of the 15th century there was a period of growth, which resulted in the construction of the Church of Saint Peter the Apostle and the town assumed its present configuration, occupying the entire top of the mountain spur and with roads that are almost parallel to each other
The presence in Vaglio of religious palaces and mansions from the 16th century, such as the Convent of Saint Anthony, and the balconies and portals that can be seen in several parts of the town, suggest that the architecture has achieved a remarkable consistency over the course of the centuries.
Church of San Donato
Among the religious buildings in Vaglio Basilicata we should first mention the 14th century Church of San Donato (or of Nazareth) which is characterized by its simple shape and stone curtain walls. The church interior is made up of two aisles side by side and separated by a single arch, each terminating in a small semicircular apse. On the inner walls of the church there unfolds an interesting cycle of frescoes dating from the 14th and 18th centuries.
The current church, in the center of Vaglio Basilicata, contains the Chapel of Saint Mary of Nazareth with apses and frescoed walls. An inscription on the wall to the right of the internal arch reminds us of the renovation works carried out in the mid-16th century.
The first phase of restoration works carried out within the Church of San Donato revealed some frescoes dating back to the 18th century. The oldest murals, that emerged on the north side of the chapel apse of San Donato, date from the second half of the 14th century and beginning of the 15th century.
On the right wall of the arch are the remains of a figure that seems to represent a "Madonna Enthroned with the Child" from the same period. The frescoes in the apse are two faces of saints, supposedly 16th century while on the right wall of the apse is a representation of a Pietà and a Magdalene embracing the cross, both in tempera, made by an unknown local artist.
Church of Saint Peter the Apostle
The Church of Saint Peter the Apostle in Vaglio Basilicata dates back to the 16th century and was built over the site of a pre-existing Norman fortress. The building is majestic, and on the main portal of the church you can read an inscription from 1659, the year of one of the restoration projects on the building. The church has three naves and a domed roof.
The right aisle has four marble altars, the one on the left enriched by two 18th century altars. The church is finely decorated, with numerous sculptures dating from the 18th and 19th century, and some paintings attributed to Antonio Stabile (1540-1580), a painter who was presumed to be a native of Potenza. According to critics, he was author of the Holy Family and Our Lady of the Rosary.
Near the altar is the body of Saint Faustino Martyr, patron Saint of Vaglio. Also worthy of mention are the organ and the choir, both in carved wood that was painted and gilded in the 18th century and the 16th-century choir stalls located behind the main altar, decorated with carved panels depicting hunting scenes, flora and fauna.
Monastery of Saint Antonio
Sources show that the monastery of Sant Antonio had already been built by the end of the 16th century, when it belonged to the Friars of Saint Francis of Assisi. The church has a single nave but its artistic heritage is very important. First of all, it is the 18th-century altar carved in wood, painted and gilded that stands out, and overlaying the altarpiece are animated representations of S. Michael, the Annunciation and St. Vito, a 17th-century work by Francesco Paterno da Buccino.
At the center of the altarpiece is a statue of Saint Anthony and two wooden statues of Saint Leonardo (all 17th century). This decorative complex is in turn contained within a beautiful niche in Baroque style gilded wood, finely carved, and whose peculiarity is represented by the 18th-century oil paintings that adorn the ceiling, depicting Saint Francis, Our Lady and Saint Clair, within a dense network of floral decorations.
The second altar on the right wall is marked by the painting of the Holy Family and Saint Anna by Francesco Paterno da Buccino while the first altar on the right is adorned with a 17th century fresco by Girolamo Todisco depicting the Madonna and Child with Saint Anna. The third altar has another painting by Francesco Paterno da Buccino, depicting the Madonna delle Grazie with Saints Domenico and Carlo.
The side walls are adorned with several paintings depicting 18th-century Franciscan saints and the Virgin Mary, and a resurrection of Attilio De Laurentiis (17th century). Also of interest are the Baroque confessional and the two 18th-century busts of Saint Anthony of Padua and St. Antonio Abate. Finally, note also the portal, built from local stone in 1656.
Church of Carmine
The final chuch to visit in Vaglio is the Church of Carmine, with a nave and an apse and preceded by a large garden with a fountain. The church has a beautiful portal with a round arch of the 18th century.
Archaeological sites in Vaglio Basilicata: Rossano di Vaglio and Serra di Vaglio
After exploring the religious heritage of Vaglio we must also mention the town's rich archaeological heritage, with important finds having been made at Rossano di Vaglio and Serra di Vaglio. The sanctuary of Rossano di Vaglio is one of the most important shrines of southern Italy, and since its discovery the area has uncovered a significant amount of Oscan and Latin finds, which emphasize the importance of the cult of Mephitis, chief deity of the sanctuary for a long period from the 4th to the 1st century BC.
At Rossano di Vaglio fragments of marble statues and bronze sculptures, numerous votive pottery and coins have been found. The goddess Mephitis was the patron deity of the sources, but also of cattle, fields and fertility. The shrine of Rossano di Vaglio is linked to the Lucanian city of “Utia”, which was the political and military center of the Lucanians - see history of Vaglio for details.
The archaeological data suggests the existence of different residential areas with a large number of craft areas. The graves of Braida, however, compared to others already known, present a significant difference - the royal tombs of Braida reveal the existence of individuals who were most likely at the head of a rich local aristocracy. In all the male burial sites a large number of weapons, shields, swords and spears were found.
A good collection of this archaeological material that have been unearthed can be seen in the Museum of Vaglio Basilicata, with multimedia devices and exhibitions of finds made in recent years in southern Italy.
Other attractions near Vaglio Basilicata
In the surrounding region, mostly a landscape of woodlands, you can also find old farmhouses that offer tourists the chance to taste the local products, such as bread and home-made pasta, and the famous “strascinati”, which along with other dishes such as “ravioli” and “orecchiette” are the pride of the local traditional cuisine.
Where is Vaglio Basilcata?
The old town of Vaglio is situated on the south-eastern slopes of Serra San Bernardo on Mount Cenapora, towards the centre of the Basilicata region of southern Italy.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Basilicata guide.