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Visit Acerenza, the city of the Templars

Acerenza Italy

Beauty and mystery are the most appropriate terms to describe this village in Basilicata. It is no coincidence that Acerenza has joined the Italian Touring Club association of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”!

Acerenza has a very interesting history full of important events. It is also called the “Cathedral City” because of the very important Roman Cathedral full of mysteries and secret stories.

Despite the small size of the village, there are plenty of things to see and activities to do.

The Cathedral of Acerenza and its fascinating mysteries

Cathedral of Acerenza
The Cathedral of Acerenza, Basilicata, Italy. Credits to: Miti74/Shutterstock

The main and most visited place in Acerenza is the Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Mary of the Assumption. It was built in 1000 on the ruins of a Roman temple and it has remained almost intact, retaining all its stone charm.

Of particular note is the stone entrance portal, decorated with figures of animals and humans. But the real surprise is the crypt frescoed by Giovanni Todisco in Renaissance style.

The Templars

Acerenza Templar
Templar armour. Credits to: NadineDoerle/Pixabay

Few people know it, but the founder of the Templar Order was born near Acerenza; for this reason the village became the place of departure and arrival of the Knights Templar.

It is thought that the Holy Grail is kept here, more precisely in the small window – which has always been walled up – of the Cathedral crypt.

Dracula and vampires

Not only the Holy Grail, but also vampires: Acerenza lacks nothing. If you look at the façade of the Cathedral – just above the entrance portal – you will see a strange bas-relief depicting a dragon and a heraldic coat of arms. The dragon is the symbol of Vlad III, better known as Dracula.

Moreover, some researchers think that Vlad III’s daughter, Maria Balsa, was buried in the Cathedral: in fact, inside the crypt there are many references to Romania and Vampires.

Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art in Acerenza

Inside the Archbishop’s Palace and the Castle is the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art. Here you can see the objects found in the tombs discovered in the area; sacred art linked to the Acerenza area.

Wine Cellar Park

Acerenza is a member of the national association “City of Wine” and the Wine Cellar Park is a little gem of the area. This Park preserves all the cellars used for wine making that were built into the sandstone. These works of rock architecture are caves that are sometimes still used today to store wine.

What to see nearby

  • Basilicata Alpaca (5 minutes by car)
    Would you ever have thought that Acerenza is home to a piece of Peru? In fact, just outside Acerenza is Basilicata Alpaca, an Alpaca breeding farm that can be visited. Here you can come into contact with 15 beautiful Alpacas and take a walk with them.
  • Lake or dam of Acerenza (15 minutes by car)
    Lake Acerenza is an artificial dam at the foot of the village. This dam is famous for the forests that surround it and the emerald green water of the lake.
  • Vineyards of Vulture (10 minutes by car)
    Vigne Del Vulture was born from the passion for wine of six young Lucanians who share the same goal: “to produce high quality wines”.

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