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|Comune di Brienza|
|• Total||82.69 km2 (31.93 sq mi)|
|Elevation||706 m (2,316 ft)|
|Population (31 December 2006)|
|• Density||51/km2 (130/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||San Cataldo|
|Saint day||10 May|
History and legends
Caracciolo’s Castle on top of a rocky spurdominates the Melandro valley. This former Angevin fortress, now only a ruin rises sheer from the river Pergola. Recently restored and Monument of Architectural Interest since 1900, the manor retains fragments of its original flooring and two statues, bearing witness to its past.
In summer, the village and the castle are the ideal scenario to hold events and historical commemorations, with exhibitions, concerts, parades and themed evenings.
The village of Brienza is one of the most interesting Medieval sites in Basilicata. Many churches enrich the artistic and cultural heritage of the area and bear witness to the way in which religion used (and still uses) to dictate the rhythm the daily life of the inhabitants of Basilicata. The most interesting sacred rites take place during the feast of the Holy Crucifix (first Sunday of May and third Sunday of September), celebrated through the representation of the “Incontro” and the “Volo dell’Angelo”.
From 2 to 5 August 2012, the event “Nights in the Castle – Rebel years 1967/1977” will take place, enlivening the Medieval town and the Castle thanks to many international artists, exhibitions, seminars, meetings, book presentations and many other events describing the “10 years of agitation” that changed the history of the World.
Mario Pagano was a philosopher, politician, lawyer, partisan, and a representative of the culture of the Enlightenment in Southern Italy. He was born in Brienza on 8 December 1748 to a family of notaries, and was sentenced to death in Naples on 29 October 1799. After growing up in his home town, he moved to Naples where, after an initial ecclesiastic career, he studied law. He played an important role during the Neapolitan revolution and in the brief experience of the Neapolitan Republic. An idealist and pursuer of justice, he devoted his life to defending the innocent, enacting just laws, and trying to abolish torture as a way of extorting truth during criminal trials. He wrote works of high cultural profile such as I Saggi Politici and Le considerazioni sul processo criminale, and was the almost sole author of the Neapolitan Constitution, which was never adopted.
Secret of the ancient Lucanica
“Minced meat, packed in a gut, because our soldiers learned how to do it from the Lucanians”. Marco Terenzio Varrone thus described the Lucanica, that is, the sausage, in the 1st century BC giving proof of its geographical origins. In fact, the term Lucanica has always been the synonym for sausage ever since the days of Cicerone and Marziale, who mention it being introduced to Rome by Lucanian slaves. Marco Gavinio Apicio, author of “De Re Coquinaria”, the most famous treatise on ancient Roman cooking, describes the recipe for this sausage in detail. Since then, even if the name itself dispels any doubt, many have disputed the fact that this product finds its origins in Basilicata. The Milanese would have the recipe date back to the hands of the Longobard queen Teodolinda and the Venetians claim it goes back to the peoples of the Alpine regions of Trento. The Consorzio della Lucanica di Brienza now wants to obtain the Igp for this local product. The production area includes 16 municipalities in the Potenza province, of which Brienza is obviously one, but these also include Tito, Bella, Muro Lucano, Picerno, Sasso di Castalda etc. The Lucanica sausage is characteristically U-shaped, weighs between 250 and 500 grams (8.8 and 17.6 oz) and is 40 to 70 centimetres (16 to 28 in) long. Its overwhelming aroma is of wild fennel seeds together with other spices and pepper. There is also a hot and spicy version with the addition of chilli pepper. Made with cuts of pork from the boned shoulder, bacon, tenderloin and minced ham, the Lucanica is stuffed into natural pig gut only. After preparation, the sausages then undergo a drying out period (2–7 days) followed by seasoning for at least 21 days. The Lucanica can be sold separately or in air-tight packaging at a controlled temperature, whole, in strings or sliced.
Caciocavallo Podolico cheese
Lucanian Caciocavallo Podolico is one of the most characteristic cheeses of Basilicata. It is only produced with whole milk from the Podolic breed of cow which feeds mainly in the pastures. The Podolic breed is reared in the wild throughout the southern Apennine mountains. In the Basilicata region the cheese is produced in the province of Potenza (at Brienza, Forenza, Viggiano, Atella, San Fele, Calvello, Pescopagano, Pietrapertosa, Tolve and Lagonegro), and in the province of Matera (at Accettura, Salandra, Stigliano and Ferrandina). For some time now a process has been undertaken with the purpose, of achieving the European Dop mark for Lucanian Caciocavallo Podolico and which has already led to the drafting of production regulations. Lucanian Caciocavallo Podolico is a stringy cheese. The milk, which comes entirely from the morning’s milking, must be processed within 24 hours. The whole process and the seasoning are governed by the regulations, as are the tools and the ingredient amounts, from the “tina”, the wooden container where the cheese is initially worked, to the quantities and types of curd to be used. Even before the regulations were enforced, the process that leads to producing Lucanian Caciocavallo Podolico was codified by centuries-old tradition, handed down in these places by generations of cheese makers and herdsmen. The cheeses are characteristically pear-shaped, hung “by the neck” between the roof beams to mature. The bouquet is that of the Lucanian woods, rosemary and heather, the fragrance and that particularity that only products of long ago know how to transmit, are the best credentials with which Lucanian Caciocavallo Podolico presents itself to the consumers.
At the table
Lucanian Caciocavallo Podolico deserves to be tasted on its own especially if it has undergone a lengthy seasoning. Before serving it is cut into round slices and then into triangular wedges. Sweet caciocavallo, with a short seasoning, should be accompanied by a regional white wine. Seasoned Caciocavallo deserves to be accompanied by full-bodied red wines, above all Aglianico del Vulture. Finally, if the cheese has been left to mature for more than 24 months, the unusual accompaniment of passito wines, like Moscato di Pantelleria, is advisable. It should also be tasted with the various types of Lucanian honey.
Exodus to the Americas
Between the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was a mass miragtion of Brienza residents to the Americas, most notably to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. The Brienza immigrants in Argentina settled in the Mataderos (Nueva Chicago) neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The Argentine community retains a cultural affinity with Brienza through Asociacion Italiana Brienza.
The Castle and the Medieval village is open on July and August