If Melfi preserves the appearance of a dark medieval town, VENOSA, 25km east, has an attractive airiness: a harmonious place surrounded by green rolling hills and neatly divided parcels of farmland. Known in antiquity as Venusia, it was in its time the largest colony in the Roman world, and is most famous today as the birthplace of the poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus – Orazio in Italian, and known to English speakers as Horace (65–8 BC). His supposed house lies off Via Vittorio Emanuele in the centro storico, where one large room shows a reconstruction of his living quarters, with a bed and kitchen utensils; free visits can be arranged through Associazione La Quadriga, around the corner at Via Frsuci 7 (t0972 36 542 or t339 480 7431).

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The best places to get off the tourist trail in Rome 

The best places to get off the tourist trail in Rome 

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