Between the San Gervasio and Genzano di Lucania, lies Banzi, an ancient centre dominating the surrounding territory.
Its territory was inhabited since Prehistoric times and the ancient town here was founded by the Oscans, an Italic population.
The town of Bantia is referred to by Livy and Plutarch, and at Banzi in 1793 an amazing bronze engraving, referred to as the Bantine Tables, was discovered. This bronze plaque contains Roman laws from the second century BC and Oscan laws from the first century BC.
A Necropolis from pre-Roman times has been discovered dating back to the seventh through fourth centuries BC and a sacred area with votive offerings that can be dated to the fourth century BC.
Nearby at Cannae in 208 BC the Carthaginian general Hannibal heavily defeated the Romans.
During the Roman period, Bantia became a Roman urban center, complete with temples, domus-style houses, an orthogonal street grid, a forum, and a bath complex. Of particular note is an auguraculum, or religious precinct for the taking of the auspices, which has been reconstructed in the town’s museum, both physically and virtually.
After the Roman period, the region and Bantia were subject to a series of invasions, starting with the Ostrogoths in the late fifth through mid-sixth century AD. The Byzantines pushed out the Ostrogoths during the Gothic War (535 – 553 AD), and the town became a Lombard center during the late sixth century AD.
During the High Medieval period (eighth century AD), some Benedictine Monks founded the Santa Maria Abbey in the sacred Osco-Roman area. The Abbey enjoyed maximum splendour during the Norman and Swabian eras, and was consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1088.
During 1300, the Abbey passed first to the Augustines and then the Franciscans, who decided to abandon it and build a new convent adjacent to it.
Bantia was however, continuously run by religious orders until 1806, the year of abolition of feudal rights and ecclesiastic privileges by the French, after their ascension to the throne of Naples. The Abbey’s assets were dismantled and sold privately and the village developed around it, assuming its current plan.
A Visit to the City
One can visit the Santa Maria Abbey positioned in the centre of the City. It was founded by Benedictine monks during the VIII century and is annexed to the Parochial Church which is embellished externally with a low marble relief (1331). Internally it preserves a wooden statue depicting the Madonna (XIII century).
From the Medieval Period, one can still visit the ruins of the town walls, a square tower dating back to the XII century and the Castle, situated.
The Archaeological Park is also worth visiting as it preserves the Roman remains of Bantia and some foundations from the Hellenistic period.
In the Pierfaone locality, one can visit the Madonna of Monteforte Sanctuary which was founded during the XII century. Internally one can admire the Byzantine influenced fresco Cristo Pantocrator (XII-XIII century).
Two kilometres from Banzi, one can visit the Nocella Fonte (small wellspring) identified as the Fons Bandusiae, noted by Horace in his Odes.