Basilicata: an escape from daily stress to rediscover beauty
30 August 2022
1. Origins and historical background on Basilicata
The history of Basilicata dates back to antiquity with the development of indigenous communities, as shown by the evidence of the Serra d'Alto Culture and the necropolis near Castelluccio.
Its golden age, however, dates back to the colonisation of Magna Graecia: thanks to the incredible fertility of the Ionian coastline, it was chosen by some Greek colonists to found Metapontion, today's Metapontum. Together with Sybaris, Metapontum soon became one of the most powerful cities of Magna Graecia.
In the Middle Ages, after the Saracen incursions, the period of the Altavilla family, historical protagonists of the events in southern Italy, who took advantage of the wars between the various dukedoms and principalities to become the masters of the area, took hold.
2. The main cities of Basilicata
Basilicata is full of fascinating destinations, but its rare pearl is Matera, a miracle suspended in time.
The city of the Sassi of Matera has been chosen as the European Capital of Culture in 2019 and is a small jewel carved out of the mountains where the population used to live. The Sassi, with their labyrinth of alleys and stairways and ancient buildings, have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Potenza is the capital of Basilicata, located on the Apennine ridge north of the Lucanian Dolomites, with an ancient area at the top of the hill and a modern city at its foot.
The old streets of the city centre, starting with the narrow Via Pretoria, are fascinating. Although it was profoundly damaged by the 1980 earthquake, the city remains an open-air art gallery of great value.
Melfi, a historic town in the province of Potenza, also captivates with its imposing walls. Thanks to its strategic location, it was the protagonist of important historical events: the first Crusade was decided here and, centuries later, Frederick II promulgated the first written laws of the Middle Ages.
Other beautiful destinations in the area include Maratea, the Gulf of Policastro, the many villages and the Lucanian Dolomites.
3. What to see in Basilicata: 6 unmissable destinations
The first stop on a holiday in Basilicata is the charming Venosa, considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, located in the province of Potenza in the Vulture area. Its origins go back into the past: the prehistoric site of Notarchirico is the oldest in Basilicata.
Another must-see is the Pollino Park, located between Basilicata and Calabria and considered the largest protected area in Italy. In the depths of the Vulture volcano lie the Monticchio Lakes, a site of archaeological and environmental interest with typical lake fauna and a rare and very varied flora.
The gentle, harmonious landscape of the Basilicata hills is interrupted by the Lucanian Dolomites with their distinctive spires. The dolomite ridge forms an environment of incredible naturalistic value.
On the Ionian coast of Basilicata are the most beautiful beaches in the area, while on the Tyrrhenian side are the well-known beaches of Maratea such as Macarro, Acquafredda and Fiumicello.
4. The unusual places of Basilicata: 2 stops
The locations are unusual, the activities to be enjoyed special: the Volo dell'Angelo consists of a steel cable suspended between Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa, in the Lucanian Dolomites, to be flown suspended in the air alone or in pairs for an adrenalin-filled experience.
Castelmezzano is worth a trip: typically medieval, it is a cluster of houses with sandstone roofs set into the rock.
Finally, those in search of spirituality will love the Crypt of the Original Sin in Matera, dubbed the "Sistine Chapel of rock" thanks to its precious cycle of frescoes.
5. The typical products of Basilicata: 4 delicacies to taste
There are many typical Lucanian products and they are all delicious, but there are four that must absolutely be tasted, starting with caciocavallo podolico, a typical cheese obtained using the pasta filata technique after a second cooking of the curd.
Among the symbols of the area is the bread of Matera, one of the few that has earned the PGI title, made exclusively with durum wheat semolina.
Among the area's most popular agricultural products are the red aubergines of Rotonda, which look like tomatoes and grow in the valleys of the Pollino National Park.
Finally, it is worth tasting the unmissable crapiata materana, a legume soup typical of the Matera area with a very old recipe.
6. Events in Basilicata: 2 unmissable attractions
Among the events not to be missed that take place in the region, 2 stand out for their tradition and importance: the Parade of the Turks in Potenza, a historical re-enactment that takes place every year on 29 May, and the Tricarico Carnival, one of the most important events with a parade of cow and bull masks representing a typical herd in transhumance.