San Paolo Albanese is a small village founded by Albanian refugees who left the port of Corone in the Peloponnese and landed on the Lucanian coast following the Turkish invasions in the 16th century. It is the smallest municipality in the region and the inhabitants have preserved many details of Albanian tradition such as customs, costumes and language. When walking through the streets of the village, it is not uncommon to come across people wearing typical Albanian dress or speaking in the 'Arbëreshe' language. During a wedding ceremony, it is possible to admire the ancient culture in all its facets, from the choral nature of the event to the traditional and symbolic character of the rite and the clothes worn. San Paolo Albanese is truly a place to be discovered, where you can rediscover a pure and simple authenticity linked to the peasant and poor origins of the founders of the small village.
The history of San Paolo Albanese The settlement seems to date back to 1534 and the first document in which the place name of Santo Paulo appears is from 1541. It was later given the name of Casalnuovo di Noya, which it retained until the first half of the 19th century. During the Fascist period it temporarily assumed the name of Casalnuovo Lucano and in 1962, with a D.P.R., the name was definitively changed from Casalnuovo Lucano to San Paolo Albanese (Albanian, as an attribute because it was built by Albanians in the first half of the 16th century). The inhabitants of San Paolo Albanese are still strongly attached to their history and therefore still maintain various customs and traditions of their original 'arbëreshe' culture.
A magical place waiting to be discovered San Paolo Albanese seems almost like an enchanted place, where time has stood still. The historic centre of the small village is characterised by terraced houses, almost fitting one inside the other, with a common wall structure made of stone and poor mortar, bearing witness to the architecture of the past. The buildings of the nobility, dating from the 18th century, have a different architectural structure and distribution of space. In addition to these buildings, there are also other interesting historical constructions, such as the Blumetti and Affuso mills and the kiln in Giansilvio. The village of San Paolo Albanese is rich in master craftsmen who work in stone, wood and wicker, not to mention the skilful hands of those who make dolls wearing traditional Albanian costumes. Finally, the 'Museum of Arbëreshe Culture' houses the characteristic elements of the culture of the ethnic-linguistic minority that settled in this territory in the 16th century. It is both a historical testimony and a cultural workshop. Inside, visitors can fully immerse themselves in the culture that gave life to the village of San Paolo Albanese, wandering among testimonies of life, customs and traditional uses. Visitors can observe ancient objects that are still part of everyday life and discover the art of working with broom, a plant that in ancient times was processed to produce the fabrics used to make traditional "arbëreshe" clothes.
San Paolo Albanese and the dishes not to be missed The gastronomic tradition of San Paolo Albanese is strongly linked to the land and the typical peasant dishes, poor and simple, consist of genuine and tasty flavours. The bread, still homemade with natural leavening, goes perfectly with local cold meats and cheeses. As for first courses, the "shtridhëljat", a dish of fresh, handmade pasta, shines, while main courses are almost always prepared with kid or lamb meat. Desserts are also typical, especially at Christmas and Easter, including 'pettula', a kind of crepe with a sweet or savoury filling, cooked on a hot stone, and 'nusëza', a doll made from 'Easter bread' (kuljaç) dough for children.
Surroundings immersed in nature San Paolo Albanese stands on a very privileged spot, overlooking the valley where the Sarmento river flows. The entire territory of San Paolo lies in the heart of the 'Pollino National Park' and there are panoramic viewpoints from which the five peaks of the Pollino can be admired. The panoramic views offered by the small village allow you to appreciate really suggestive glimpses; exploring the Capillo Wood you can get in touch with an uncontaminated nature. On Mount Carnara, from the second half of May until the end of June, it is possible to admire "Banxhurna ka Karnara", the red-purple peony of popular sayings, and it is no coincidence that a popular song from the village reads: "these girls of ours, dressed up like gentlewomen, with cheeks as red as pomegranate seeds, like peony on a mountain" (in the Arbëreshe language: këto vashasitë e tona çë na undruan si xhinduldhona, faqe kuqe si koqe sheg, si banxhurna tek një breg). The area around San Paolo Albanese is rich in broom bushes and wild plants that accompany visitors along magical nature trails and beautiful fountains where they can stop to cool off and take a break from their walk.
Religious tradition Religion, Christian Catholic of Byzantine rite, is another element that strongly characterises the small village of San Paolo Albanese. The Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, embellished with icons, seems to have been built in the 18th century on a pre-existing religious building, as was the 17th-century Chapel of San Rocco, which contains several frescoes. The mysticism of the Byzantine rite is better expressed with icons than with statues, but the mixture of rites over the centuries has meant that processions with statues are held in San Paolo Albanese. On 16 August, the festivities dedicated to the patron saint, San Rocco, take place; they move in front of the statue in procession, Himunea, the votive trunk, carried on the shoulder and made from ears of soft and hard wheat, and the Scythe Dance.
Municipality of San Paolo Albanese Province of Potenza Basilicata Region
È a treasure trove of traditions, located in the heart of the Pollino National Park - at an altitude of about 850 meters - and stands out among the most characteristic villages in all of Basilicata. Welcome to San Paolo Albanese, whose peculiarity is linked to its historical-artistic and, above all, cultural heritage. The village, in fact, was founded by a community of Albanian refugees who settled in the arid lands of the State of Noia, granted to them by the rulers of Naples on the north-eastern side of the Pollino. Here everythi...