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Post-nuclear Potenza

creato da Dario Morgante ultima modifica 20/06/2008 15:10

We travel to Potenza - one of Italy's most unlikely tourist destinations - and find a haven for fans of functional and post-nuclear architecture.

PotenzaIf you take the motorway towards Bari and exit at Candela, don't be surprised if you're left speechless by the countryside. The beautiful low domed mountains are bare and shrouded in mystery. Are we still in Italy? It would seem so, and we continue along the dual carriageway that winds around Melfi before heading towards Potenza.

By the time we arrive in the latter night has fallen and we decide to stay in a 3-star hotel just outside the town (Hotel Vittoria in Via della Tecnica 11 - tel. +39-0971-56632). It's clean and comfortable and reasonably priced at LIT 120,000 for a double room.

Potenza has never been on the tourist trail. In the Middle Ages when hill towns were springing up on all suitably elevated locations Potenza followed suite - with the exception that today no-one knows where the old part of town actually was built. This is due to the fact that Potenza is periodically damaged by earthquakes only to be rebuilt in slightly less style than before. Which doesn't really make for a tourist attraction, does it?

Indeed one of the things that makes Potenza distinctive is its neo-functional architecture, typical of the 1970s, which is applied to a typical hill town In other words, its weird, if not unnerving, to see huge blocks of flats towering over hair-pin bends!

It takes just over an hour to visit Potenza as the old part of town runs along one main street lined with low buildings that have been tastefully renovated into trendy shops each one with a creatively dressed window. We're spoiled for choice at lunchtime as Potenza boasts plenty of good, yet cheap, restaurants. We finally opt for "La pergola", in Contrada Macchia Romana 23 (tel. +39-0971-444982), where the food is excellent but the service is rather slow...

Enthusiasts of post-nuclear architecture should head out of town to see two 'fine' examples of the art. The first, on the road to Melfi, is the city hospital which was extended last summer thanks to the addition of a series of odd hemispherical structures. The second, still on the road to Melfi, is a seven or eight storey "nursing home" built entirely in reinforced concrete. Unsettling to say the least!

ENIT on Basilicata - - The ENIT (The Italian National Tourism Board) on Basilicata. Some essential information but few suggestions
Basilicata - - A guide to the region
Hotels - - Hotels in Potenza and surrounding province

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