Tursi, birthplace of Albino Pierro, twice nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, stands on a sandstone hill between the Agri and Sinni rivers. In memory of the illustrious poet, the "Albino Pierro Literary Park" was created, located in a suggestive position on the gullies; inside the Park, the Pierriana Poetry Museum includes a permanent exhibition of paintings inspired by the poems of the Tursitan poet. Studies on the archaeological finds at the Castle have demonstrated the presence of human settlements dating back to the 12th century BC. Tursi is believed to have been founded by the Goths after 410 AD who, after destroying nearby Anglona, built a castle on the hill where it originated the first inhabited nucleus. The Gothic government lasted 77 years, from 476 to 553. In 554 the Byzantines took over. The Saracen Arabs, coming from Africa, occupied the existing settlement between the years 850 and 890. During their short stay, the nascent village was called Rabatana, a name that comes from the Arabic Rabhàdi which stands for fortified village. The neighborhood, in fact, is characterized by being difficult to access, characterized by steep alleys, tortuous steps that lead to deep precipices, which the poet Pierro called "Jaramme", and a tangle of houses made of stones and bricks. The traces of Arab domination are still evident in the buildings, traditions and culture. In 890 it was the turn of the Byzantines who named the entire center Tursikon, in honor of the founder Turcico. Normans, Swabians and Angevins then followed each other, contributing to the growth of the city. From the definitive destruction of Anglona, only the sanctuary was saved and in 1400 the citizens took refuge in Tursi, with the subsequent merger of the two dioceses. It was Andrea Doria (1552) who received the dukedom of Tursi from Charles V, which disappeared in 1769 with the consequent acquisition of the land by the Donnaperna, Picolla, Panevino, Camerino and Brancalasso families.
Every corner of Tursi arouses curiosity and surprise in the visitor. The ancient village of Rabatana with its deep and inaccessible ravines is certainly one of the major attractions. In Piazza Maria Santissima di Anglona there is the Church of the Annunziata built in 1400 next to a small church from the 1300s, now a sacristy. The cathedral lost its original style following a terrible fire (1988) which totally devastated the entire building. Inside, the structure has a Latin cross plan with three naves with three entrance doors on the main facade and a series of marble altars. Along the central nave you can see a wooden coffered ceiling. In the same square, the remains of the Gothic Castle are visible which, based on some sixteenth-century documentation, appears to have been inhabited until the sixteenth century. Home to numerous lords, princes and marquises, during periods of war the manor represented, however, a real fortress. Crossing the streets of the historic center you reach Piazza Plebiscito, where the Church dedicated to the Patron Saint San Filippo Neri is located, in baroque style, dated 1661. It preserves valuable paintings, including a painting of the patron saint weapon by the Tursitano painter Domenico Simeone Oliva .
Albino Pierro was born in Tursi on 19 November 1916. His childhood was marked by the premature death of his mother, who died when he was only a few months old. The maternal figure and the birthplace are the pillars of Pierrian poetics. His father Salvatore remarries while Albino is given to the care of his aunts Assunta and Giuditta, two figures who appear in the verses of the mature poet. After his years of study, in 1939 he finally settled in Rome where he graduated in philosophy in 1944, taught in some high schools and collaborated with the magazines «Rassegna Nazionale» and «Il Balilla». From 1946 to 1967 Pierro published poetic collections in the language, but it was with his dialect verses that he gained a place of honor in the panorama of twentieth-century Italian poetry. The first poetic collection in Tursitano dates back to 1960 “A terra d'u ricorde”. In his verses we capture the poet's states of mind, deliberately brought back to an elementary and primitive dimension. His verses begin to be translated into French, English, German, Swedish, Persian, Arabic, Neo-Greek, Portuguese and Spanish. In the 1980s the first official recognitions arrived and the doors of Stockholm University opened (1985) where he was invited to read poetry. In 1992 the University of Basilicata awarded him an honorary degree. The following year the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa organized a meeting with the poet. Pierro comes close to winning the Nobel several times, an expected but missed recognition. He died in Rome on 23 March 1995. In the historic center of Tursi, in the San Filippo district, there is the “Albino Pierro” House Museum. The structure is on several levels: from via Giuseppe Garibaldi you can access the Museum of Pierriana Poetry which preserves paintings, poems, objects and memorabilia of the works; Corso Umberto I leads to the Art Gallery, a permanent exhibition of some works of art created by numerous Lucanian artists on the tenth anniversary of his death. In the House Museum there are the “Rocco Brancati”, “Felice Di Nubila” and “Studio Albino Pierro” rooms. It is therefore almost natural to found the Albino Pierro Literary Park, managed by the Study Center, to promote his memory and works, and his historical and cultural value. cultural heritage, and the very survival of the dialect, with the organization of high-level events, specific demonstrations and guided tours.
The culinary tradition of Tursi draws inspiration from the peasant cuisine of the past, always offering appetizing variations. The so-called "cotto di chi", a delicious compote to be used in different recipes, and "gileppi" with oranges are widely used. stacce”, an exquisite orange peel jam made with this type of citrus fruit. The name of this orange derives from its particular flattened shape similar to the "stacce", stone bowls of an ancient game. This fruit ripens in March but can remain on the trees until August. Its skin is thick and soft, the pulp is seedless and the flavor is exquisite. In 2007, the Consortium for the Protection and Enhancement of the Staccia Orange of Tursi and Montalbano Jonico was created to request the protection and community recognition of the D.O.P. The orange arrived in this area thanks to the Saracens who arrived in Tursi in the 9th century and settled in the upper part of the village, in the Arab "Rabatana" area. Even today in the local dialect the orange is called "portual", a name of clear Arabic origin. A legend has it that the Saracens had the habit of eating peeled oranges, cut into slices, covered with cinnamon and onion, finally seasoned with a drizzle of oil. The peels were collected and boiled with sugar. The prepared syrup, called "giuleppo" was used by the Tursians to season pork chops fried in lard. A local product is the cardoncello mushroom, cooked in various ways or even eaten raw with hard ricotta, lemons and olive oil from the Murge of Matera. Among the traditional recipes, the following stand out: cardoons with cheese and eggs, linked to the anniversary of Easter Monday, "i pirc'dduzz", chunks of homemade pasta seasoned with cooked wine, fusilli with fried breadcrumbs and truss , a minestrone composed of a variety of legumes and potatoes. Not to forget the homemade pasta and bread cooked in a wood-fired oven offered in different shapes: "a pitta", a kind of flat wheel, and "u piccillète", a sort of white donut, among the focaccias we also find "a caccallèt ” which can be sweet, with sultanas, or savory. There is no shortage of good wine such as Matera DOC.
The Tursitana community is the custodian of a precious religious heritage which is made up of sacred architecture located in the different neighborhoods of the city and of deeply felt and awaited traditions every year, such as the pilgrimage in honor of Santa Maria SS. Queen of Anglona. It is May 19, 1901, Bishop Carmelo Pujia crowns the Virgin Mary "Queen of Anglona". From this moment on, the small Lucanian village of the same name will remain forever faithful to her. The devotion to the Blessed Virgin has its roots in the legend of a young shepherd who saw a beautiful lady approaching saying: "go to the village and invite all the inhabitants to come and get me." The boy obeyed and ran into the village to invite his fellow villagers to pick up the lady. Once they reached the hill they saw that it was the statue of the Madonna. At this point the message left to the young pastor became clear to everyone: the Madonna appeared to ask to be taken to her Sanctuary. Only once a year does the Madonna leave the Sanctuary. It is the first Sunday after Easter, when, carried on the shoulders of pilgrims, it is taken to the Cathedral of Maria Santissima dell'Annunziata in Tursi, 12 kilometers from the hill. The statue remains in the cathedral for two weeks, before returning, generally on the first day of May, still supported by the faithful, in the Sanctuary of Anglona. The journey is undertaken in an atmosphere of total devotion, during which the pilgrims pray, sing songs and experience an intense contact with the Virgin. In her honour, on September 8th, which is the patronal feast, faithful from all over the diocese flock to honor the statue of the Virgin, acclaiming her with prayer vigils, songs, solemn masses, processions and fireworks that is. Since 1931, the Sanctuary has become a National Monument and in 1999, by will of Pope John Paul II, it was elevated to the dignity of Ponti Cia Minor Basilica. The monument is what remains of the ancient city of Anglona. The current structure of the Cathedral constitutes the expansion of a first small church. The façade is enriched by a narthex. On the front of the portal there are limestone tuff tiles with bas-reliefs depicting the lamb, the symbols of the four evangelists and other symbolic figures. Recent restorations have restored color and splendor to the 14th century frescoes.