The context

Venosa is situated in the Vulture geographical region, in Basilicata.
Its name has Roman origins, since they dedicated the city to goddess Venus. Traces of an ancient Neolithic necropolis found in Toppo d’Aguzzo, near Rapolla and close to Venosa, confirm the existence of ancient settlements since prehistoric periods. The majority of these traces can be seen in the Notarchirico “Paleolithic Park”. The Romans defeated the Samnites in 291 BC guided by consul Lucius Postumius Megellus, who made Venosa a Roman colony where over 20.000 people moved. During the second Punic war, in 298, consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus died there attacked by Hannibal. Since 190 BC, when the Via Appia was built, the place was in a strategic position and in 89 BC became Municipium (Roman town), obtaining the right to vote and Roman citizenship for its inhabitants. In 65 BC, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, one of the greatest poets of ancient times, was born there and later emigrated to Rome.
During the imperial age, with the advent of Christianism (around 70 AD), one of the earliest Jewish community in Italy came to Venosa, coexisting peacefully with the local population. As a trace of that, the Maddalena hill shows caves featuring both Jewish and Christian burials. In 114 AD the Via Traiana was opened, connecting Benevento and Brindisi but excluding Venosa, also from major economic advantages. With the fall of the Roman empire and the first lights of the medieval age, Venosa was repeatedly occupied by barbarian populations since the V century.
In 476, the Heruli led by Odoacer invaded the town, whilst the Ostrogoths, in 493, made it an administrative, politic and economic centre, until the office was later shifted to Acerenza. Between 570 and 590, the Lombards chose Venosa as one of their gastaldates; in 842 the town was plundered by the Saracens, later chased out by Louis II, emperor of the Sacred Roman Empire. Then the Byzantines came, defeated in 1041 by the Normans guided by Arduin during the battle of Olivento. During the Norman reign, Venosa was under Drogo of Hauteville. Noteworthy is the Greek presence around 980 AD, as witnessed by the “San Nicola di Morbano” monastery. In 1133, Venosa was sacked and burnt by Roger II of Sicily. When the Suevian later came, a Castle was built by order of Frederic II on the remains of an ancient Lombard fortalice dating back to the XI century. In 1232, Manfredi, the Suevian emperor-to-be, Frederic II and Bianca Lancia’s child, was born in Venosa. Following a continuous shift of feudal powers, the town was given to the Orsini family as a feud in 1453. After the Angevins, the Aragon Gesualdo family became, in 1561, feudatory and princes of Venosa, making the town a flourishing centre of cultural, intellectual and artistic ferment. In that period prince Carlo Gesualdo lived, counted amongst the finest and controversial musicians of his time; the composer likely ran away from Naples after having killed her spouse and cousin Maria d’Avalos, who betrayed him with the duke of Andria, Fabrizio Carafa.
In 1808, Venosa became the third wealthiest town in Basilicata, after Melfi and Matera, and received active and passive right in the Napoleonic National Parliament. In 1820 Venosa had a marginal role in the farmer and carbonari uprisings. With the reunification of Italy, in 1861 the town was conquered by brigands led by Carmine Crocco that, having defeated the Venosa National Guard, were supported by the local population. During the occupation Francesco Saverio Nitti, the homonym grandfather of the expert in the social and economic problems of Southern Italy, was killed.


is not merely a place: it is an avant-garde idea generated and nourished in an Italian province, quite far from huge capitals.

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