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Stage 6 - Castrovillari - Matera

Stage 6

With a length of 188 km, the sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia starts from Castrovillari, in Pollino National Park and ends in Matera.

Stage 6 - Castrovillari-Matera

Pollino National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2015 in the Global Geopark category, is the largest park in Italy, spanning Calabria and Basilicata. It is formed by the Pollino and Orsomarso Massifs, in the Southern Apennine chain, a kingdom of wild and unspoiled nature.

Pollino National Park

The paths of the park are a paradise for hikers and climbers. This is where you can find the highest peaks in Southern Italy, which remain covered with snow for a large part of the year. Among breathtaking landscapes and ancient villages, exploring this area also means discovering the customs and traditions of the ancient Arbëreshë ethnic groups who have been settled here since the 15th century.

Castrovillari, one of the villages of the park, is dominated by the bulk of the Aragonese Castle. The sombre atmosphere of the secret passages and the Infamous Tower, formerly used as a prison, both fascinates and intimidates visitors.
In the evocative district of the Civita, ancient city centre, you can find the Sanctuary of Madonna del Castello, dated 1090 AD, and the monumental Church of San Giuliano (whose original nucleus dates back to the 11th–12th century).

Madonna del Castello, Castrovillari

After Castrovillari you arrive in Morano Calabro, an enchanting village perched on a hill, that looks almost like a nativity scene. It is one of the most fascinating villages in Calabria (I Borghi più Belli d'Italia) and one of the most beautiful in Italy. Exploring the San Nicola district, you will walk through alleys, underpasses, arches and squares up to the splendid church of Santa Maria Maddalena with the spectacular dome in yellow and blue majolica, to the Capuchin Monastery and further up to the Castle. A village like a stone jewel immersed in the nature of Pollino.

Morano Calabro

Running along the streets of Pollino National Park, we arrive in San Severino Lucano which amateur astronomers call "the land of the stars", due to the absence of light pollution.

San Severino Lucano

From here there are trails for lovers of trekking, horseback riding or cycling that lead to the magnificent industrial archaeological remains of the Mulini della Valle, towards the unspoiled forests of Turkey oaks, maples, beeches, firs, and Loricati pines. A beautiful path will take you from Bosco Magnano to the sacred mountain where the solitary temple of the Madonna del Pollino stands.

Interesting information

The Loricato pine, a typical tree of the Pollino Park, is defined as a "living fossil"because it easily adapts to any type of environment and is the only tree that can survive on the peaks of the Calabro-Lucan Apennines. The name derives from its bark, with a structure similar to the armour of Roman warriors (lorica).

 

Loricato pine

Another incredibly charming place along this stage is Craco, the ghost town of medieval origins surrounded by the dry and arid landscape of the gullies. The ancient village was half destroyed by a landslide in 1963 which forced the population to rebuild the village further down the valley. Only the stone houses clinging to the rock, the Norman tower and the main square remain. Thanks to its beauty and the atmosphere, Craco has been chosen as the set for numerous films, including  King David (1985) Bruce Beresford, La Luca (1996) by Gabriele Lavia, Terra Bruciata (1999) by Fabio Segatori, up to The Passion (2004) by Mel Gibson, who shot the scene of the hanging of Judas here.

Craco

From the Pisticci junction, a detour takes us to the archaeological area of Metaponto, one of the treasures of Magnagrecia in the heart of Basilicata, where sea and nature create wide and evocative landscapes. Metaponto's past is made up of heroes and gods, warriors and philosophers. This is where Pythagoras created his school and lived the last years of his life. The imposing and fascinating Palatine Tables, twelve columns in Doric style, the remains of the Temple of Hera, are emblematic of the ancient Greek city.
Metaponto, The Tavole Palatine ("Palatine Tables")

Metaponto, The Tavole Palatine

The stage ends in Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage city and European Capital of Culture 2019, one of the oldest cities in the world, carved in tuff since the Palaeolithic age. It is a timeless place, an inimitable and extraordinary city. The unique architecture of the Sassi di Matera is adapted perfectly to the natural environment: over time, the populations have masterfully exploited the resources of the territory for the construction of increasingly complex houses from caves to houses above ground and used the slopes to control the waters and meteoric phenomena. This gave life to the two main districts of the city, Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano

The region of Matera, so enchanting that it deserves its nickname of "second Bethlehem", has inspired many writers, artists and directors over the centuries, including Mel Gibson who chose it to set his "The Passion of the Christ".

From the main square, with the beautiful Church of San Pietro Caveoso, you can enjoy a wide view of the ravine below, with the labyrinth of streets, churches and houses perched on the slopes. The Romanesque Cathedral dominates the Civita.

The gastronomic specialities of Matera are linked to ancient country traditions, first of all, the bread, a PGI Lucanian product, and a symbol of Matera, made unique by the processing method and the quality of the wheat used, which is responsible for the characteristic straw yellow colour.

Matera

On the opposite side to Matera, you will find the Murgia National Park with its rupestrian churches including the Church of San Pietro Barisano, the Church of Santa Lucia alle Malve, the rupestrian complex of the Convicinio di Sant'Antonio, the church of Santa Maria de Idris connected to the Crypt of San Giovanni in Monterone by a tunnel. Among the numerous settlements of the Paleolithic, it is worth mentioning the Grotta dei Pipistrelli.

Madonna dell'Idris, Murgia archaeological park

Not to be missed

An adrenaline-pumping experience for the bravest, 1 hour and a half by car from Matera: Il Volo dell'Angelo flies over the stunning landscapes of the Lucanian Dolomites.

Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa, in addition to being two of the most beautiful villages in Italy, are the starting stations of the two routes of the Flight. The first line, called San Martino, starts from Pietrapertosa at 1020 metres above sea level and arrives in Castelmezzano (arrival altitude  859 metres) after having travelled 1415 metres, reaching a maximum speed of 110 km/h. From the Peschiere line, on the other hand, you launch from Castelmezzano at 1019 metres above sea level to arrive at Pietrapertosa (arrival altitude 888 metres) reaching 120 km/h over a distance of 1452 metres! The visit to the two splendid villages that frame this unique and unforgettable emotion is an integral part of the experience.

Riding the Volo dell'Angelo in pairs

By bike

Basilicata Bike and Nature

 

The itineraries proposed by Basilicata Turistica are designed to allow you to travel freely and in a sustainable way in contact with nature, art and unforgettable landscapes.

From the hills to the sea: Sassi di Matera and Metaponto
Starting from the city of the Sassi, you descend along the valley of the Bradano river, first along the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera, then Montescaglioso and finally the archaeological excavations of Metaponto. Take a look at the itinerary

The via dei Calanchi: Ferrandina, Stigliano, Cirigliano and Aliano
The itinerary, of medium difficulty, is very impressive for the variety and distinctiveness of the landscapes. It is recommended in spring and autumn to avoid the intense summer heat and enjoy the colours of nature. Take a look at the itinerary

The heart of Pollino: Terranova di Pollino, San Severino Lucano, Viggianello, Rotonda
Mountain route in the heart of the Pollino National Park, characterised by hard climbs but. Take a look at the itinerary


From the Ionian to Pollino Park: Policoro, Valsinni, S. Giorgio Lucano, Terranova di Pollino
An itinerary of great difficulty but with an irresistible charm. It starts from Policoro, a splendid town on the Ionian coast of Basilicata famous for its beaches, guarded by the WWF Policoro Herakleia oasis, and for the Sirtide National Archeological Museum, and reaches Terranova di Pollino, in Pollino National Park. Take a look at the itinerary

 
If you are looking for further inspiration, visit the section dedicated to cycling tourism of Basilicataturistica.it