The most romantic small town in Italy Castelmezzano

The most romantic small town in Italy Castelmezzano…Italy is one of the most romantic Countries on Earth; it is visited all year round attracting hordes of tourists. Today we have picked one built on a cliff: Castelmezzano. Castelmezzano is incredibly stunning; you have probably never heard its name before—but trust me when we say it deserves a place on your travel map…then it does. If you’re intent on seeing authentic Italy on a relaxing break, Castelmezzano is one city to explore and enjoy extremely suggestive views.

Castelmezzano is one of the highest villages in Basilicata, perched high amid the Lucanian Dolomites, the cliff side city is dotted with beautiful churches, with clusters of houses perched precariously on a narrow ledge that drops away into a dramatic gorge. The village offers spectacular walking path on the top of the bluffs and narrow streets full of history and tradition. You can holiday with Italians and immerse yourself in the local culture for an authentic Italian experience. Castelmezzano is a beauty considered to be one of the best in Italy.

Contents;

  • The village;
  • History;
  • Reasons To  Visit Castelmezzano…What to See;
    • Le Dolomiti Lucane
    • The Flight of the Angels
    • Nature trails
    • The valley of Caperrino
  • Historic and Religious buildings;
    • Church of Santa Maria dell’Olmo
    • Castrum Medianum (Castle in the Middle)
    • Notable inhabitants Places
  • Events;

                Festa del Maggio a Castelmezzano   

  • See also some of our picks;
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The village;

Castelmezzano is not a well-known tourist destination, one of those places that you’ve probably never heard off… Castelmezzano is a very small emblematic village in the Southern Italian region of Basilicate. It is among the finest treasures of Basilicata. Castelmezzano is located high in the hills above the Basento River, opposite to Pietrapertosa, in the heart of the spectacular Dolomiti Lucane Mountains, in the province of Potenza that draw a unique landscape through their rocky contour. Castelmezzano is considered the highest village of Basilicata with Pietrapertosa village both are separated by a deep valley. A town built into a mountainside and is shaped like a natural amphitheater in a breath-taking wide valley locations which make the villages look like some huge nativity scenes carved in the mountain. This location of Castelmezzano makes it protected from imposing massifs of quite unusual sandstone rock that the wind and the rain have unceasingly dug in the course of time the mountains to draw a unique landscape in a manner quite unusual.

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To enter the country in fact is quite unusual; because the country suddenly appears after a tunnel. The tunnel is carved in the rocks immediately after crossing a spectacular small groove without any traces you can see of it before. This made the arrival in the small village pretty easy to get there: after the scenic new Basentana highway and tunnel which takes you and made it much more accessible, just follow the signs. Castelmezzano is separated by a breath-taking wide valley between two mountains; this made it remain in a world almost of its own until after World War II when the road was built. Before that, mule paths and walking trails.in the area connecting it to other towns.

View of Castelmezzano from Pietrapertosa

It is among the most beautiful village in Italy, fantastic during the day offering the scenery backdrop of the Lucane Dolomites, but truly spectacular too at night once you see it or its photos; you’ll admire it and find it pretty hard to get out of your mind. “The best place of the planet among all the ones which we have never even heard about”, by Arthur Frommer’s the U.S. Magazine Budget Travel magazine. Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa the neighboring town have been classified as two of “The most beautiful hamlets of Italy”. Thus there are so many things to see and admire. Castelmezzano is, as stated in its name, a place in the middle, the passage between reality and a fairy land that seems to come straight from the pages of a storybook, a place between the past and the present; that is why it has been chosen as location for the movie “An almost perfect Country” by Massimo Gaudioso and the television series “This is my Country,” directed by Michele Soavi.

The village inhabited by just over 800 anime, has an urban structure… typically still retains its medieval appearance and looks like a small creek perched … houses clusters at the center with roofs of sandstone slabs encased in a rocky basin naturally amphitheater: perched precariously on a narrow ledge. The houses constructions are drilled deeply and directly in the rock that drops away into a dramatic gorge. The town is mostly pedestrian with one main street, strolling through this historic center is particularly impressive for the presence of the built-up buildings, with lots of alleyways and staircase “streets” that open between the alleys and that invite you to climb to the peaks overhanging and the heights above by these incredible stairway to heaven to enjoy the wonderful scenery of the Dolomiti Lucane.

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Walking along the village in main street, starting from the Town Hall building, you can reach the castle ruins by a narrow, steep staircase leading up to the sky.  The remains of the walls are still visible probably from the Norman period typically medieval. On a rock a tank; a meteorite reservoir for the collection of rain water and the long and steep staircase carved into the rock that allowed access to the highest lookout place of sight, from where it was possible to monitor the whole underlying valley of the Basento River.

These urban structures of Castelmezzano, are rare examples of reconciliation of the balance between natural components and human intervention without distorting it…that is why it Castelmezzano is called the city-nature. Castelmezzano city has a full respect to the surrounding landscape, the natural heritage around, history and tradition and human intervention of the town. A rare example of a sustainable balanced relationship has allowed Castelmezzano city to be defined one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

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History;

Castelmezzano has very ancient origins, it dates back to the colonization of the coasts of Southern Italy; the valley of Basento. Between the 6th and 5th centuries BC, some Hellenic colonies where formed when the Greek colonized the valley of Basento and founded a town called Maudoro-an urban center, meaning roughly the world of gold. According to ancient tradition, the first core of modern Castelmezzano dates back to the 10th century AD when the Arabs were invading the area. The Saracen invasions was aggressive that it forced the local population -the citizens of Mandoro (Golden World) to flee from a town in the Basen and find a new location in a valley which was one of the most rugged areas, inaccessible for their enemies and remove any advance. Fundamental defense of the village in the course of the centuries and here Castelmezzano (Basilicata) was founded. It is said that during their exodus, a pastor called Paolino found an ideal shelter to move in. It was in the region’s rocky Dolomites, an isolated spot to rich in water and a strategic point of defense formed by rocks from the steep peaks, because from that vantage point the place could repel the invaders by a rain of stones of those rolling stone on the boulders.

After occupation by the Lombards, the Normans settled there between the 11th and 13th century AD enlarging and strengthening and built a castle contributing to the economic development of the village. The castle was from the construction of the Norman fortress midway between those of Pietrapertosa and Albano di Lucania which was called Castrum Mediani, with respect to their neighboring centers hence the name Castelmezzano roughly means Castle in the Middle). Its current structure is remains of which the walls and tier of rocks enlarged and strengthened allowing access to the higher lookout point are still visible.

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With the Normans, Castelmezzano experienced a period of peace and development, until the turn of Anglican rule on which it experienced a sharp decline by the Angevins. In 1310 Castle Mezzano was acquired to the Diocese of Potenza (PZ) and then it was ceded to the one of Acerenza in 1324. With the arrival of the Crown of Aragon, between the 14th and 16th century, it was their time to expand their borders that many landowners received Castelmezzano as feudo, despite the unchanged economic and social conditions.Later the territory Conquered by the Aragonese, the town was under a feudalism and was domain of several families of noble families and local Lords, including the Baron Giovanni Antonio De Leonardis (whose family governed the town from 1580 to 1686), did development take place and then De Lerma which was subsequently, it passed by marriage who remained until 1805. This is evidenced by the highly prestigious buildings that you can see inside dell’incasato . In the 19th century, Castelmezzano due to its location, rich in natural hiding places among the rocks and lush vegetation was affected by brigandage  and many bandits which made  many of its inhabitants, at the end of the century migrate exodus  and overseas.

Reasons To  Visit Castelmezzano…What to See;

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1-Le Dolomiti Lucane;

Castelmezzano  is definitely has breathtaking view, it  is located in the Natural Park of Gallipoli Cognato, Piccole Dolomiti Lucane Park that offers in addition a green pristine beauty of rugged monumental landscape the traces of a millenary history for the presence of the megalithic walls of the settlement, named Croccia Cognato, of the IV century B.C. . Dolomiti Lucane Park extends up to 27.027 hectares that forms natural scenery; equipped for hiking, orienteering, guided tours and a variety of areas to go rock climbing.

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2-Flight of the Angels; 

Castelmezzano has gained fame from its unique location a most exhilarating tourist attractions and adventure unlike any other…especially for the Il Volo Dell’Angelo, or ‘Flight of the Angels’.

Flight of the Angels is the most interesting attraction of the region between the two villages Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa (another dramatic stone village) for thrill seekers that separates between two mountain peaks over the stunning valley. An incredible experience through the space over 800 meters from the ground only for a few minutes. The ‘Flight of the Angels’ offers unparalleled mountain views below as a way to enjoy the fantastic landscape of dolomites. The Flight of the Angel is a high-wire, high-speed zip line. It allows visitors to fly between the two hamlets up to 1020 m through a steel cable linking the two countries and admire the wide valley at speeds of up to 120 km/h, a unique thrill beyond compare in whole of Italy. Flight of the Angels is  incredible round-trip 1452 m journey is on two different lines The “Pesch iera” line and the “San Martino” line one from Castelmezzano to the neighboring town, Pietrapertosa, and vice versa. You can start on either side but only available from June through September. It is for those who are not for the faint-hearted, overweight and 16 years and over, to fly solo or with a partner, so you can share the pleasure of adventure that lasts a little more than a minute but will stay in your heart your entire life!. Those loving Trekking, the Valley of the Stream Caperrino which is the boundary between this village and Pietrapertosa has evocative scenery. The most famous is the one… The path of the seven stones – Le Sette Pietre-; is an ancient trial.

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3-Nature trails;

Many nature trails and routes in all directions of the enchanting landscape that allow you to explore the area:

  • For peasant zip-lining trail that translates to the hike of the seven stones, of about 2 km which has seven sculptures along the way to cross the valley of the stream. The path of the seven stones connects the municipalities of Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano. It is a walk suitable for all ature lovers to follow in the footsteps of ancient folk legends inspirited from tales about witches based on the text Vito was dancing with the witchesof Mimmo Sammartino.
  • The sheep tracks; are numerous allow you to go down to the valley of Caperrino.
  • The iron route (via ferrata); another major tourist attraction is the “iron route”, a mountain-climbing method for mountains lovers visiting Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano. One of the 500 via ferrata climbing routes in Europe and a great adventure and most memorable thing to do available since 2015. “Iron route” is a very different experience to anyone with modest fitness on a special track consists of two twisted routes designed to climb up the rocks that pass through the Dolomiti Lucane, along channels and canals, walkways and two Tibetan bridges.

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4-The valley of Caperrino;

Outside the country, paths, stairways and bridges in stone perhaps from Roman times allow reaching the valley of Caperrino, The landscape is ideal for excursions through its evocative scenery and it is possible to trace back to nearby Pietrapertosa. Along the Stream there are the remains of some abandoned mills. And were other buildings are more interesting.  Characterized by the presence remains of ancient dry mills, built in dry and whose roofs are made of local stone slabs, said “chiang” in the local dialect.

Historic and Religious buildings;

1-Church of Santa Maria dell’Olmo;

In the village itself, in the heart of the city life is Caizzo Square at the center of which stands the main church of the town… the Romanesque facade of mother church of Santa Maria dell’Olmo. An artistic masterpiece hosts a precious 14th century wooden statue of Madonna with Child, with its majestic facade in Romanic style known as ‘Madonna of the Elm’. The beautiful statue of Our Lady of Olmo, is an artwork of the artist Girolamo Bresciano; who had numerous works disseminated in the churches and convents of the region.

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2-Castrum Medianum (Castle in the Middle);

This is the Norman-Swabian castle a very sight of Castelmezzano which was built after occupation by the Lombards exudes mystery and antiquity. this Norman fortress (named Medianum Castrum, ieCastl due to its location midway between the fortresses of Pietrapertosa and Brindisi Montagna)  and it was from its name that the town derived its own. By climbing a narrow path; the steep steps carved into the rock tourists can now visit what is left of the castle and watch the military garrison guarding the underlying Basento valley.

3-Notable inhabitants;

Palaces (Palazzo Merlino, Palazzo Parrella, Palazzo Paternò, Palazzo Campagna). Not less noticeable are the numerous stately buildings  and palaces…Ducal Palace belonging to the De Lerma, Palazzo  Coiro, are noticble of this small center.

Events;

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Festa del Maggio a Castelmezzano;

Festa del Maggio a Castelmezzano is a festival of a Nordic-Celtic origins.It is considered the main celebration and the most beautiful and ancient pagan tradition in the village. Each year in the first Sunday of September is Sagra du’Masc, the Festival del Maggio; occur authentic marriages of trees. A religious celebration merged into a festival that celebrates nature to take place on the honor of St. Anthony of Padua.  Adults choose from the surrounding woods the tree of life to be joined in marriage …a trunk of an oak Maggio, u ‘masc, a turkey, a beech tree, male shaft and a top of Cima, holly-lily holly a pine tree – the ‘Bride -. Both are transported “to marry” in the main town square of the country. The first driven by pairs of oxen, the second by a group of young people of the country gather the tree of life in the Paolona forest. With Marriage Tree life; when the top and trunk are joined as renew ancient tree rituals that dates the beginning of spring.

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See also some of our picks;

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