The ancient "Venusia" is located in the Vulture area, near the border with Puglia. The name has clear Roman origins and for the local traditions it derives from the name of the goddess Venus. In 291 it became a Roman colony in 65 B.C. was the birthplace of the Roman poet Horace. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the continuing attacks of Heruli and Ostrogoths, the town fell under the Lombard rule, becoming a Gastaldato (dukedom). It then submitted the domain of the Byzantines and the Normans, that settled in the district of Drogone of Altavilla, proclaiming it fief. Raided and sacked by Ruggero II of Sicily, under the rule of the Swabians, a castle was built. In 1232 it became the birthplace of the future Swabian Emperor Manfredi , son of Frederick II and Bianca Lancia. In the XV century the Duke Pirro del Balzo had built the Cathedral of St. Andrew and the Castle (demolishing the old church of San Felice).
Sites of Interest:
- the Castle of Pirro del Balzo, whose construction was undertaken in the first half of the XV century. The original building features a square plan with cylindrical towers that mark the corners. During the period of the domain of the Spanish viceroy (1553), it was strengthened with a moat, ramparts and a protected fortified internal balcony, and in the XVII century the north-west wing was added, which today houses the Archaeological Museum and the Municipal Library;
- St. Andrew's Cathedral, commissioned in 1470 by the Duke of Balzo and built on the site originally occupied by the Church of St. Basilio. It features an Egyptian cross plan, a XVI century portal of the artist Cola di Conza, a Bell tower, topped by a pyramid-shaped spire and outside covered archways, adorned with sarcophagi and Roman inscriptions;
- the complex of the Holy Trinity, built on the site where once stood a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Hymen. It consists of two churches: the Old Church, dating back to an early Christian period, later enlarged by the Lombards and Normans, which preserves inside the tombs of the Altavilla and Aberarda, the divorced wife of Roberto il Guiscardo; and the New Church (also known as the "Unfinished"), whose construction began in the XI century but has never been completed;
- the Church of Santa Maria della Scala, built in 1589 by Bishop Rodolfo of Tussignano. Inside it preserves relics of San Teodoro;
- the Church of San Martino, already documented in 1262;
- the Church of San Filippo Neri (1679) in Baroque style;
- the XIV century Church of San Domenico, with its adjoining convent;
- the Roman thermal spa bath, better known as the House of Horace,
- the Archaeological Park, with exhibits from the Roman Republican times to the Middle Ages. Not to miss: the thermal bath complex with mosaics, the residential complex and the domus;
- the Roman Amphitheatre (I century A.D.);
- the Paleolithic site, opened in 1979, an exhibition of remains of large animals (elephants, rhinos and buffalo) and some human remains;
- the Jewish catacombs, located on the hill of La Maddalena, on the outskirts of the city, dating back to IV-VI centuries B.C.;
- the noble residences and palaces (Palazzo Calvini, Palazzo Del Balì, Palazzo De Luca, Palazzo del Capitano).