What it is and where it is
Nestled amidst the green Vulture-Melfese, Ripacandida is one of the small wonders of the area, located on the slopes of the volcanic massif of Mount Vulture, an inactive volcano now in Basilicata since prehistoric times. Ripacandida is a small Lucanian village of about 1,700 inhabitants, whose name seems to derive from the snow-white hillock on which the town stands.
Why it is special
The major point of interest is definitely the historic center, in which baronial palaces dating from 1700-1800 and churches are concentrated, including The Church of Santa Maria del Sepolcro, better known as the "Mother Church," or the Sanctuary of San Donato . San Donato, with its frescoes and its thousand-year history, is one of the most important religious monuments in Basilicata, so much so that in 2010 it was recognized by UNESCO as a "Messenger Monument of Culture and Peace." Indeed, thanks precisely to the frescoes of San Donato, which are very reminiscent of those of Giotto, Ripacandida is known as "the little Assisi of Basilicata."
Not to be missed
Not to be missed, after visiting the churches to the monuments, is the tasting of "Ruciulatieggh," the typical braided bread whose origin, however, remains unknown. It was prepared in the ovens of housewives' homes and to this day is still baked in the village ovens on Tuesdays and Fridays. Another typicality of Ripacandida is prepared as per tradition during the Easter season. It is still a braid-shaped bread always called in the dialectal form "Scarceggh" to which is given the shape of a cone from which an egg sprouts, which will bake with the dough, covered with a cross obtained from the same dough.
A bit of history
Ripacandida is also known as "Town of Saints" because it was the birthplace or home to such saints and churchmen as Donatello, Mariano and Laviero, the venerable Giambattista Rossi and Maria Teresa Araneo, known as Sister Mary of Jesus. It is orally handed down that the town was built by the Romans as early as around the 19th century, so much so that below the town flows a fiumara where the remains of what was once a Roman aqueduct are visible.
The village boasts of being home to the first honey-based spa; a wellness center born from the passion and dedication of a family of beekeepers. But honey is not the only excellence of the area: there is also saffron, so much so that Ripacandida has obtained from the Italian Saffron Association the recognition of "New Saffron City."
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