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A journey through history, nature and culture in the Lucanian Apennine Park

A journey through history, nature and culture in the Lucanian Apennine Park

Brienza-Sasso di Castalda - Padula


Three-day itinerary to immerse yourself in history and nature and culture. It starts from Brienza and then continues towards Sasso di Castalda towards the famous beech forest and the village perched on the mountain, and then continues towards Padula for a visit to the famous Certosa di San Lorenzo.

Here is the itinerary in detail:

1st day Friday:

Arrival in Brienza on Friday afternoon / evening. Accommodation, visit of the residence and welcome drink on the panoramic terrace. Free visit through the streets of the town to discover Brienza.

Dinner in a typical Lucanian restaurant

2nd day Saturday:

Breakfast on the panoramic terrace with homemade cakes and jams. Guided tour of the medieval village and the Caracciolo Castle. Followed by a visit to the Francesco Mario Pagano bibliographic museum and to the Convent of the Frati Minori Osservanti dating back to 1571, whose cloister presents an important cycle of frescoes by Leonardo Giampietro from 1741 from the Michelangiolesca school. We leave for Sasso di Castalda to discover the “Costara locality” of Sasso di Castalda, a suggestive wooded area where we will stop to have a packed lunch based on typical Lucanian products. After the lunch break, "a bridge to the moon" for an experience of pure adrenaline alternatively free walk ............ .. Visit to Sasso di Castalda and return tothe Voice of the River. C ena in a typical restaurant of Basilicata.

3rd day Sunday:

Breakfast on the panoramic terrace of the B&B based on homemade cakes and jams. Departure for Padula. The Certosa di San Lorenzo in Padula is a fascinating place, rich in history and intense spirituality, it is the largest charterhouse in Italy and one of the first in Europe, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Lunch in a typical Campania restaurant. After lunch, return to the Historic Residence and departure. 

The B&B offers a three-day itinerary (Friday-Sunday).

The offer includes:

  • Welcome drink
  • 2 nights in a double room including breakfast with typical products
  • Friday evening dinner in a typical local restaurant
  • packed lunch on Saturday in the picnic area, in Costara, in Sasso di Castalda (in case of adverse weather conditions, lunch in a typical restaurant of the area)
  • Saturday evening dinner based on typical products at a typical restaurant
  • Sunday lunch at a typical inn
  • Entrance to the medieval village of Brienza with guide
  • Visit to Sasso di Castalda and the woods of Costara (trekking on foot) with guide
  • Visit to the Certosa di Padula

Price of the all-inclusive offer € 225 per person

PS the packed lunch on Saturday can be replaced by a lunch at the restaurant, in the hypothesis of adverse weather conditions.

The typical restaurants involved will let you taste the ancient dishes of the "Lucanian culinary tradition" and will offer only typical products of the territory at km 0.

Among the typical products offered, particular mention is made of the "podolica", one of the 5 slow food presidia of Basilicata. From the podolica, typical of the southern Apennines, both the meat and the renowned caciocavallo will be tasted.


Here is some news about Brienza and the medieval village

Brienza is one of the few cities in Basilicata that has best preserved the architecture of the ancient medieval village (now uninhabited after the earthquake of 1980). The only accommodation facility in the old town is the historic residence used as a B&B: "La Voce del Fiume" . In Brienza it is possible to visit one of the most interesting medieval villages of southern Italy. Its origins date back to the year 1000 when a first nucleus began to settle around the Castle, the fulcrum of the whole village. The village of Brienza is characterized by the centripetal winding model having the Caracciolo Castle as its natural fulcrum, located at the top of a hill, from which a myriad of houses and lodges break free, clinging to the steep rock. The visit to the village starts from the end of Via Mario Pagano, where one of the access gates was once located, from here two narrow streets climb the hill, that of Santa Maria on the left and of San Michele dei Greci on the right. On the opposite side, where you enter through the " Portella" still visible in the walls of the Castle, shreds of walls on paths now almost completely erased testify the gone existence of other districts that completed the village: Torricella, San Martino, San Sebastiano, Via Nuova, San Nicola and Santa Elisabetta. Further down, towards the river, the perimeter of the ancient Church of San Martino rises again ,probably the first cult center of the "Burgentia Fidelis". To the north of the castle, the watchtower (“Trucedda” - turret) which dominates the confluence of two streams (the Pergola and the Fiumicello).

The visit to the village of Brienza abandoned after the earthquake of the 80s also includes a visit to the Mother Church of the Assumption , probably dating back to the end of the 11th century and ends with a visit to the Caracciolo Castle.

The fortress was, perhaps, an ancient Angioin fortress of which traces remain in the cylindrical keep, which emerges from the massive bulk, and in the circular semi-tower, located at the center of the walls to interrupt the uniformity of the curtain and ensure a more effective defense. In the Middle Ages it appeared protected, according to the method of Lombard fortifications, with the houses leaning against each other, which constituted a valid defense against possible enemy attacks. An open-air stone staircase leads to an embankment terrace in front of the main entrance. An ancient tradition attributes 365 rooms to the castle, one for each day of the year.

The Caracciolos, with ups and downs, remained owners of the fiefdom and the castle until 1857, the year in which the last member of the family, Maria Giulia, bequeathed it to his nephew Luigi Barracco.

From this moment the slow decline of the manor began; in fact, on the death of Barracco, the fiefdom passed to various feudal lords and administrators who disposed of the rustic properties with a series of sales, leaving the castle in complete abandonment (heavily damaged by the earthquake of 1857). The last owner, De Luca, finally donated it to Francesco Mastroberti, who began to sell what remained of the old building to keep his 18 children in a town that no longer had anything else to offer.

The manor, which at the beginning of 1900 had been declared of historical interest, suffered, following the earthquake of 1980, the collapse of the east wall and the south wall. Currently undergoing a radical restoration, the original floors of numerous rooms have been brought to light and recovered and various statues, in local hard stone, placed in the Town Hall, awaiting restoration; during the summer, the ancient village and the castle are the scenery and the main subjects of numerous events and re-enactments, among the most important in the region, which continue to attract thousands of visitors.

The visit to Brienza continues with the Town Hall Square where stands the monument to Francesco Mario Pagano , a citizen of Brienza who lived in the 18th century, martyr of the Neapolitan Republic. This is followed by the Convent of the Observant Minor Friars dating back to 1571, currently the Town Hall whose cloister has an important cycle of frescoes by Leonardo Giampietro from 1741 from the Michelangiolesca school.

The tour of Brienza ends with a visit to the Church of the Holy Crucifix , upstream of the town, from whose height it is possible to admire not only the town of Brienza and the surrounding villages, but an entire area surrounded by woods.

After visiting the village of Brienza and the church of the SS Crocifisso, we set out to discover the "Costara locality" of Sasso di Castalda, a suggestive wooded area where we will stop, in an equipped area, to have a tasty packed lunch. based on typical products (cold cuts, cheeses and local wines). In the immediate vicinity it will be possible to stock up on water at the Fontana di Fossa Cupa , from which one of the best waters of Basilicata flows . After the lunch break, free walk in the woods to discover the vegetation and flora and fauna typical of this wood. Entering the woods it is possible to admire spectacular beech trees and among these the beech of San Michele, one of the father trees of Basilicata, protected by a regional law, dedicated to the strongest archangel in fighting evil. Looking at its trunk, the signs of age are evident (300-400 years): many deformed scars on the trunk of 6 meters in circumference (4/5 adults are needed to embrace it). According to tradition, it is the first tree to bloom and to mark the arrival of spring. Under its mighty foliage, a bench invites you to stop and read its history or simply carve out a few minutes of relaxation.

Walking along the paths of the "La Costara" wood it is also possible to admire symbols of the rural life of the locals: large open spaces (or threshing floors) on which charcoal pits were prepared and snow pits from three to five meters deep to store snow to draw in in summer. Continuing along the path of the forest you will arrive at a "panoramic point" on a steep side of the mountain. Here an area devoid of beech trees offers the visitor a beautiful panoramic view of the green valley. From this point, through the slip road of the Frassati path, you can return to the town or by choosing other paths that run along the San Michele stream, between mills and bridges , you can get to the ski slopes (1709 m)dominated by the characteristic Costaro Refuge , in perfect mountain style.

Some news about Sasso di Castalda:

A small Lucanian town with only 967 inhabitants, it is 27 km from the provincial capital Potenza and is 940 meters above sea level. Originally called "Pietra Castalda" (ie fortified cliff), it was an ancient Norman stronghold rebuilt in the mid-twelfth century, of which today only a few ruins remain, visible in the upper part of the town.

The journey to discover Sasso di Castalda begins with a visit to the historic center of the town where we find, in a good state of conservation, the church of the Immaculate Conception , with a particular portal, and inside, a statue of the Madonna and child from the fourteenth century, some 15th century canvases and a carved confessional and beautiful Renaissance frescoes. Also worth visiting is the Church of Sant'Antonio, which houses a sculpture of Sant'Antonio from the early 1500s. Continuing to walk in the historic center you will discover small architectural treasures, suggestive alleys and stone portals of ancient palaces, up to a panoramic terrace where you can admire the beauty of the mountain landscape and uncontaminated nature, immersed in the stillness and in an endless silence, interrupted only by the sounds of nature.

Padula Charterhouse:

The Certosa di San Lorenzo in Padula is a fascinating place, rich in history and intense spirituality, it is the largest charterhouse in Italy and one of the first in Europe.

The Charterhouse was, in 1998, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO , and in 2002 it was included by the Campania Region in the list of Great Cultural Attractors .

The architectural layout of the Certosa di Padula is divided into two areas: the first includes the workplaces; the second, on the other hand, is the area of ​​residence of the monks.

A large wall surrounded the huge religious building. Around the external courtyard there was the apothecary, the apothecary's house and the guesthouse. Within the walls also the Park of the Certosa di Padula , once the "Garden of the enclosure".

In the Church of the Certosa di San Lorenzo the monks found themselves in one of the rare moments of community life. On one side sat the monks who did not take a vow of cloister; near the presbytery sat the cloistered fathers who arrived there through an internal passage. Of particular interest are the high altar and the cedar wood door, dating back to 1374. Unfortunately, in the Church as in other places of the Charterhouse, numerous empty spaces testify to the suppression of the Charterhouse by the French in the early nineteenth century, which caused the dispersion of numerous artistic treasures.

In a corner of the Cloister of the small ancient cemetery, which the cloistered fathers crossed to reach the Church, there is the Founder's Chapel which contains the sixteenth-century sarcophagus of Tommaso Sanseverino.

When this area of ​​the Certosa fell into disuse, the monks decided to build a new cloister .

The latter, called "large" because of its size, was built starting in 1583, and is spread over two levels: below, the portico with the cells of the fathers; above, the windowed gallery used for the weekly walk. An elliptical double flight staircase, in the Vanvitellian style, with eight large windows, joins the two levels of the large cloister.

To the Prior's cell you arrive after passing a door that separates the area of ​​the fathers' cells from all the environments described so far.

The place, unlike the small and austere monks' cells, is a ten-room apartment, characterized above all by direct access to one of the most well-stocked religious libraries in the world, which in the past housed thousands of books, illuminated manuscripts and manuscripts.

A suggestive helical stone staircase opens like a fan and leads to the antechamber of the grandiose library of the Certosa di Padula , of which only two thousand volumes remain.