10 Places to Visit in Basilicata

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Basilicata is a region that is little besieged by tourists, but it has a lot to offer its guests. Its past has its roots in prehistoric times and this can be seen in the numerous testimonies of the archaeological areas present in the region. Then its cuisine and its folklore are rich in different influences due to the various invasions suffered over the centuries.
From the white beaches to the turquoise sea, from the villages dug into the rocks to the castles perched on top of silent mountains, Basilicata is this and more, you will also be struck by the wonderful nature to frame everything.
Here we advise you 10 places to visit absolutely.


  1. The Sassi of Matera
  2. Maratea
  3. Pollino National Park
  4. Metaponto, Policoro and Pisticci
  5. Lucanian Dolomites
  6. Paleolithic Park of Atella
  7. Vulture: Melfi, Venosa and Monticchio Lakes
  8. Ghost town of Craco
  9. Grumento Nova and Val d'Agri
  10. Aliano and Carlo Levi Literary Park
  11. User questions and comments

1 - The Sassi of Matera

The Sassi are the ancient part of Matera, that is some rock buildings and architectures literally carved into the rock. The term "sassi" refers to the two districts that make up the historic center: Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano. In these districts there are elegant and articulated structures that alternate with underground labyrinths and caves, creating a very particular landscape effect.

In the stone of the Sassi are carved cave houses that can be visited, but also important churches such as Santa Lucia alle Malve, Convicinio di S. Antonio and Church of Santa Maria di Idris. Inside the historic Palazzo Pomarici there is the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture.

Then, with the setting of the sun, the lights of the houses and small businesses turn on, making this fascinating declared place even more magical. UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you are visiting them for the first time, you can rely on a 2-hour guided tour.

2 - Maratea

Maratea is the only center of Basilicata to overlook the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its coast extends for more than 30 km and is characterized by inlets, caves, rocks, shoals and mostly pebbly beaches. Also along the southern stretch is the small Santo Janni Island, where the Dragon of Santo Janni lives, an endemic blue-brown lizard. For its landscape, artistic and historical heritage, Maratea is known as "the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian".

The village rises at the foot of Monte San Biagio, on which the top stands Christ Redeemer, symbol of the town overlooking the historic center. With its 22 meters high it is the tallest statue in Italy.
Among the things not to be missed there is certainly the Old Town with its intertwined alleys, flowered balconies and the many churches for which Maratea is famous. And then also the Palazzo de Lieto, which houses a permanent exhibition of underwater archeology and several temporary exhibitions.

This Lucanian town is also a destination for fans of trekking, Monte San Biagio in fact offers nature trails that, even with guided tours, allow you to reach Christ the Redeemer and the Basilica of San Biagio.

3 - Pollino National Park

In addition to Basilicata, it also occupies part of Calabria, including the provinces of Cosenza, Matera and Potenza. They constitute more than 192 thousand hectares of protected area the largest natural park in our country, a paradise for trekking, climbing and mountain biking. The main activity inside the Pollino Park is constituted by the walks along the paths that lead to the Piani, the peaks of Dolcedorme, the Serra di Crispo, the Raganello gorges. But not only that, in the municipality of Viggianello it is located the longest cross-country ski track in all of southern Italy, here you are surrounded by peaks up to 2.000 meters high and immense beech woods.

We advise you to visit the municipalities that are part of the Pollino territory Castelluccio Inferiore of particular historical-archaeological interest, e San Severino Lucano where the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Pollino, an important destination for a religious cult deeply rooted in the local people. But also the highest village in the park, Alessandria del Carretto in the province of Cosenza, which still preserves ancient cultural traditions.

4 - Metaponto, Policoro and Pisticci

On the Ionian coast you can visit ancient cities of Magna Graecia, such as Policoro, Metaponto and Pisticci.
Policoro contends with Metaponto for the title of the most popular tourist resort on the Ionian coast of Lucania. Between sea and archaeological finds, here you will find large sandy beaches, crystal clear waters where it is not at all rare to see some sea turtles, and then a few steps from the village is the archaeological site of Heraclea.
A Metaponto you can take a guided tour that passes through the Apollonio Licio Archaeological Park and ends at the Pantanello site. Don't miss the beautiful beaches here too, low, sandy and shaded by two large pine forests.
Then there is a short distance from the Piana di Metaponto Pisticci, whose inhabited area has the shape of an "S" and constitutes a sort of natural amphitheater, a characteristic for which it is called "the amphitheater on the Ionian", but also "the balcony on the Ionian" at 364 m asl. The historic center of Pisticci is divided into districts, Terravecchia constitutes the highest and oldest part, where they are located the castle, the ancient gate of the town, the Mother Church, the Church of the Annunziata and the ruins of the Church of the Madonna della Stella.

5 - Dolomiti Lucane

The peaks are not as high as the Nordic ones, but the Lucanian Dolomites also offer views worthy of note. You can discover the village of Pietrapertosa through a tour to theArabata area, the historic center and the Norman-Swabian Castle. But also Castelmezzano, Famous for the flight of the angel, a cableway that in the summer allows you to "fly" suspended in the air at a speed of 120 km / h. And if you don't have the courage for such an adrenaline-pumping experience, you can always enter the characteristic streets of the village lined with white houses built into the rock and discover the rest of the historic center.
Of great interest to climbers are the Vie Ferrate, equipped routes that allow you to reach otherwise unreachable points, and the Nepalese bridge, which serves to connect the two starting points (Vie Ferrate Salemm in Castelmezzano and Marcirosa in Pietrapertosa).

Furthermore, the winter in the Lucanian Dolomites is long and lasting and satisfies all skiers with ski areas located in the province of Potenza. Among these there is Monte Sirino, which remains covered with snow until late spring, and the Sellata-Arioso ski area, easily reachable from Potenza.

6 - Paleolithic Park of Atella

Immersed in a natural setting where the beauties of a colorful landscape emerge unchallenged, the small town of Atella hides the memory of a past that has its roots in very ancient times. In fact, some gods have been found near the cemetery finds that testify to the presence of prehistoric settlements in the area. It is thought that probably 650-550 thousand years ago this place was inhabited by groups of homo-erectus who hunted animals and worked the stone.

today Paleolithic site it is located in the heart of Basilicata, near the modern municipal cemetery of Atella, and is accessible on request and free of charge. The green hills are the frame together with vineyards and olive groves.

7 - Vulture: Melfi, Venosa and Monticchio Lakes

The Vulture is the name with which the northern area of ​​Basilicata, from Monte Vulture, an inactive volcano on the border with Puglia and Campania. At the base of the mountain rises the village of Melfi, where you can discover one of the most important Italian medieval castles, the 10 towers that surround it and the beautiful village with the th century Cathedral.

Also Venosa it is located in the Vulture and is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Here the Romans, Jews, Goths, Lombards, Saracens, Spaniards and many others left their mark, practically walking through Venosa is like crossing a history book. The ideal is to visit it with a guide during a tour around the country. Because there is so much to know about the Archaeological Park with its spa domus Holy Trinity, L 'anfiteatro and house of Horace.

But in the enchanting scenery of the Vulture there are also the two Monticchio lakes, which have the highest temperature of the Italian lakes. The Small Lake area is protected reserve and habitat of a very rare moth which can reach a wingspan of 70 mm. It is the ideal place for a relaxing trip in the countryside, even for the Lucanians themselves.

8 - Ghost town of Craco

In the province of Matera is Craco, the ghost town abandoned since 1963 following a landslide. But in 2010 he entered the list of monuments to safeguard and therefore it is possible to visit it in complete safety. The tourists who reach Craco every year are thousands, most of them cinephiles because it has been the set of numerous films.

The inhabitants who, following the landslide and earthquakes, did not move to Craco Peschiera today reside in the new district adjacent to the historic center.
In 2 hours you can visit the whole country together with the MEC, the Emotional Museum of Craco, housed in the ancient monastery of San Pietro and which includes a projection room and a digital historical, cinematographic and memory archive. It is the municipality itself that has devised the itineraries for guided tours that allow you to enter the core of the ghost town, this as a recovery plan for the village.

9 - Grumento Nova and Val d'Agri

To discover other hidden treasures of Basilicata you need to go deeper inland, where for example there is the village of Grumento Nova. At the foot of the hill on which it stands there are the remains of the ancient Roman city of Grumentum, of which the archaeological area can be visited with the National Museum of the Alta Val d'Agri which houses Roman and pre-Roman finds and testimonies of wine and Magna Graecia. But don't miss a visit to the Sanseverino Castle and Mother Church.

And if you want to move into the wilderness, there is the perfect place, the Val d'Agri. Almost the entire territory is part of the National Park of the Lucanian Apennines Val d'Agri Lagonegrese, is mainly flat and in the mountain areas hiking and ski tourism are in strong development. For all Lucanians and tourists who like to ski, mountain holidays in Basilicata represent a safe choice, i ski areas they are all located within the Lucanian Apennine Park and all in the province of Potenza. Viggiano is the most interested town as it is surrounded by the highest peaks, here there are in fact Monte Volturino and Montagna Grande.

10 - Aliano and Carlo Levi Literary Park

Finally, you cannot miss a stop in Aliano, which rises perched on a hill and presents itself with a surrounding area characterized by typical landscape of the badlands. This small town in the province of Matera inspired Carlo Levi in ​​writing the book Christ stopped at Eboli, so much so that some symbolic phrases of the book are imprinted in the alleys. The writer spent part of his period of confinement there, later he even had himself buried there.

An association was also born, that of the Carlo Levi Literary Park, which with guided tours, events, food and wine and crafts activities, has become a point of reference in the local cultural panorama. In fact, it is possible to discover the landscape described by Levi through various paths to be done on foot and of different difficulties, but also to visit the writer's house with the guide exactly as it was left by him in 1936 and his tomb.

Plan your trip: how to get there and where to sleep

The closest airports to Basilicata are those of Naples-Capodichino of Bari-Palese, shuttles are available to reach both Matera and Potenza (flights starting from € 10,00). Alternatively you will have to rely on railway line Naples-Reggio Calabria which connects Potenza with Taranto, but also Foggia-Potenza and Taranto-Sibari. If you plan a trip to discover the main tourist cities of the region, stay in Matera or Maratea, the latter also perfect for summer holidays on the Tyrrhenian coast ().

San Severino Lucano, on the other hand, is ideal for a more relaxing stay in the countryside of the Pollino Park (). Among the most suitable locations for a ski holiday there is absolutely Viggiano (), but also Lagonegro (). Basilicata is also the perfect destination for lovers of archeology and history, stay in this case in the north, in Venosa () or Atella (), but also in Policoro ().

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