Melfi is an Italian city in the Basilicata region. Inhabited by the Daunians and Lucanians, Melfi gained notability under the Normans, who raised it as capital of the Duchy of Apulia. Emperor Frederick II emanated here the so-called "Constitutions of Melfi", considered the basis of the modern administrative state. From the Angevin domain, the city lost its importance and began a period of decline. After the Italian unification, Melfi was a focal point of the brigandage and was conquered by the legitimist leader Carmine Crocco.
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- A morning's ramble made me acquainted with all the characteristic beauties of the place, which is a perfect tame oasis among much uninteresting scenery. The picturesque buildings of the city (which seems to occupy the site of some ancient place); the valley below it, with its clear stream and great walnut-trees; the numerous fountains ; the innumerable caves in the rocks around, now used as stabling for goats, which cluster in swarthy multitudes on tiers of crags ; the convents and shrines scattered here and there in the suburbs ; the crowded houses and the lofty spires of the interior ; and the perfectly Poussinesque castle, with its fine corner tower commanding the whole scene: so many fine features in a circumscribed space it is not common to see, even in Italy.
- Edward Lear, as quoted in Journals of a landscape painter in southern Calabria, & c., R. Bentley, 1852, p. 237-238.
- Its streets are narrow, to protect from the direct rays of the sun; it had at one time been defended by walls, but they are now in a dilapidated state. I was struck by the fine appearance of the cathedral and theatre, which had in early times been the hall, where the baronial councils of the Normans, who occupied this part of Italy, were held.
- Craufurd Tait Ramage, as quoted in The nooks and by-ways of Italy, E. Howell, 1868, p. 213.
- The rich city that to the Normans will be a beginning from which to grow great in Apulia.
- Ludovico Ariosto, as quoted in Orlando Furioso edited by Allan H. Gilbert, S. F. Vanni, 1954, p. 225.