A Medieval Hilltop Town in Basilicata
Irsina is a medieval walled town unspoilt by tourism that boasts a variety of valuable historical and religious monuments. Located approximately 50 km from Matera, Irsina was built around the Bradano river which borders the regions of Basilicata and Puglia.
Irsina is divided between its old town that sits snugly within its medieval stone walls, and the new town which sits outside. To enter the old town you pass through an impressive gateway that leads to the main piazza, which has a double row of olive trees leading off to Cathedral. Its narrow, winding streets lie behind ancient walls, which hold clues to Irsina’s varied past, displaying a myriad of architectural styles and art.
Through the massive gateway is the new town, with all the amenities for convenient living, from banks to supermarkets, post office and bars. A wider variety of shops can be found just 40 kilometres away in Matera.
The impressive 13th century cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is one of the most beautiful in the region. Largely rebuilt at the end of the 18th century, it houses a very fine baptismal font from 1453 and a statue of Saint Eufemia, which is thought to be the only surviving sculpture created by the important Renaissance artist, Andrea Mantagna.
The Church of St Francesco was rebuilt in the 17th century over a 13th century monastery. It has a fine crypt that incorporates remains of a Norman castle and many beautiful 14th century frescoes. Outside the monastery walls are the “Bottini”, which are long underground tunnels once used to supply water to the city usinga high quality hydraulic system.
Also worth visiting is the Church of Purgatory , a 17th century church with works of Pietro Antonio Ferro, Francesco Polino and Andrea Miglionico.
Janora Civic Museum is Irsina’s archaeological museum and is worth a visit for its intriguing collection of artefacts dating from Neolithic to Roman times. The most valuable and interesting piece of the collection is a calyx-krater, or wine bowl, depicting the myth of the Greek hero, Bellerophon, fighting the Chimaera, a monster which was part goat, part snake and part lion.
Food & Wine Festival
During the middle of August, Irsina hosts the vibrant village festival “Sagra del vino e della lumaca ‘, celebrating the local gastronomic specialities including the locally produced wine and snails prepared in several different ways.