City (pop., 2001 prelim.: 69,295), capital of the Basilicata region, southern Italy. Located at 2,684 ft (819 m) above sea level in the Apennines, the Roman city Potentia was founded in the 2nd century BC and became an important road junction and flourishing community. In medieval times it had a succession of feudal overlords. In 1860 it was the first town in southern Italy to expel the Bourbon rulers of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The town has been rebuilt several times after earthquake damage. It is an agricultural centre and ships fruit and vegetables.
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The city is the highest regional capital and one of the highest provincial capitals in Italy, overlooking the valley of the Basento river in the Apennine Mountains of Lucania, east of Salerno. Its territory is bounded by the comuni of Anzi, Avigliano, Brindisi Montagna, Picerno, Pietragalla, Pignola, Ruoti, Tito, and Vaglio Basilicata.The actual Mayor is Vito Santarsiero(1955).
The Lucani of Potenza sided against Rome's enemies during the latter's wars against the Samnites and the Bruttii. Subjugated during the 4th century BC (later gaining the status of municipium), the Potentini rebelled after the Roman defeat at Cannae in 216 BC. However, the Battle of the Metaurus marked the end of any Carthaginian aspirations in Italy, and Potentia was reconquered by the Romans and reduced to the status of military colony.
With the declaration of the Neapolitan Republic in 1799, Potenza was one of the first cities to rebel against the king. After temporary Bourbon repression, the city was conquered by the French army in 1806, and declared the capital of Basilicata. King Joachim Murat improved the city's living conditions and administration, and some urban improvements were introduced for the visit of Ferdinand II in 1846. A revolt broke out in 1848 and was again put down by Bourbon forces, and a third devastating earthquake followed in 1857. Potenza rebelled for the last time in 1860, before Garibaldi's revolutionary army brought about the unification of Italy.
In September 1943, the city suffered heavy Allied bombing. In 1980, another strong earthquake struck Potenza.