Basilicata – a beautiful mountainous region between the seas
You do not come here by chance. For this region, you decide only if you wish to have a very different experience in which you get to know places whose silence, colors, scents and aromas let the hectic pace of modern everyday life forget and give a unique impression.
The wooded mountains are dotted with small impressive villages, some of which are more than 1 000 m high. Pure air, simple flavors and natural beauties unite here with historical testimonies that satisfy every thirst for knowledge.
The wine experiences are unique in this very special place.
Places – top 3 to visit if you are in Basilicata
1. Matera – Scenery for movies
Matera, the city of cave settlements, is a unique place and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walking through the alleyways of Civita, the old town, one gets interesting insights into the ancient settlement with its dwellings and stables dug by the shepherds directly into the rock.
This haphazard archaic construction was the starting point for a veritable monumental work, which today attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. Due to its uniqueness, the location was chosen by famous actor and director Mel Gibson as the location for the movie “The Passion of Christ”.
The 32 km long coast of Maratea on the Ionian side of Basilicata is as well world-famous for the beauty and biodiversity of the underwater jewel.
2. Potenza – one of the most beautiful places
Potenza is the capital of the Basilicata region in the south of Italy, which is known for its beautiful mountain landscape. If you decide to spend your holidays in Potenza, you can take a leisurely shopping tour through the tranquil center or enjoy the idyllic nature. In addition, the city has some historic attractions that guests should definitely visit.
The Cattedrale di San Gerardo, built in the 12th century, was later extensively restored and is now one of the most beautiful buildings in the area. The old town is also home to the 17th-century Palazzo Loffredo, now home to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Basilicata.
Last but not least, Potenza has many contemplative places where small restaurants and cafés invite you to linger. In Piazza Mario Pagano, for example, holidaymakers will discover the culinary specialties of the region, overlooking the impressive palaces of the old town.
3. Pietrapertosa – the town in the rocks
The small town of Pietrapertosa with its 1300 inhabitants is located in the Lucan Dolomites. Already the arrival at this place is fantastic. Pietrapertosa, whose name means pierced stone, is partially built into the rock where the city is located. The place has gained in importance by the Normans, they have built a castle there.
During your stay in the Lucan Dolomites, there is also a walking path between the towns of Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano, the path of the 7 stones. The more adventurous can also join a zip line to fly 1,400 meters from one place to another, which is why this attraction is also called Angel Flight.
Food and Drink – top 3 to try in Basilicata
Authentic kitchen in Basilicata
To taste a traditional food and wine pairing, let’s meet at Terra dei Re Winery which propose with its tasting bread, cold cuts, and cheeses.
1. Limoncello – delicious lemon liqueur
In this region, the lemons for the yellow liqueur grow under optimal conditions. The hot dry summer ensures a high concentration of essential oils in the skin.
The limoncello is produced in a multi-step process. First, the lemons are washed and peeled. Only the outer yellow peel should be peeled off as otherwise, the white parts (the mesocarp) provide a bitter taste. The skins are then placed in a jar of 95% alcohol for three to four weeks. At the end of the soak period, an infusion of hot water with sugar is added to the soaked lemon peel and the alcohol. After about a week, the liqueur is filtered and can be drunk.
The limoncello is served ice cold. It is also used as an ingredient in pies, ice cream and other desserts such as the Tiramisù al Limoncino.
2. Insalata di arance – a fruity light summer dish
For this fruity dessert, oranges are peeled and the white skin and seeds are removed. Then the oranges are cut into thin slices, the juice is put aside. The slices have to lay in rows of overlapping oranges on a plate and doused with the juice. Then they are drizzled with a little olive oil and lightly seasoned with salt and paprika. The orange salad is a welcome refreshment in the summer and can be combined with a fresh-baked Italian durum wheat semolina bread.
3. Cardoncelli impanati e fritti – fried king oyster mushrooms
In this mushroom recipe of Basilicata, king oyster mushrooms are breaded and fried. First, the mushrooms are seasoned with salt and Peperoncino. They are then turned in flour, then egg and finally in breadcrumbs. Afterwords you roast them in hot olive oil until they get golden brown. These mushrooms you can eat as a hot antipasto or as a side dish to a secondo.
Wine – top 3 to know about wines from Basilicata
Basilicata – Fruits of the volcano
Basilicata has a lot of beauties to offer. However, their wines are largely unknown – the vineyards and wineries concern only a small part of this region of the Mezzogiorno. However, it is particularly important that the vineyards on the Vulture are among the highest in Europe: some lie beyond 1,000 meters above sea level.
1. Wine Highlights
The Basilicata region is one of the smallest wine-growing regions in Italy. They can be found almost exclusively around the extinct volcano Vulture in the northeast of the region. The vineyards on the Vulture are among the highest in Europe: some lie beyond 1000 meters above sea level. It also produces the only wine well known beyond the borders of the region: the Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG. Without the name Superiore, it is a DOC wine.
In addition, there are also vines near the enchanting town of Matera in the east, by the way, cultural capital 2019, which is always worth a visit. A few hectares lie along river valleys in the south and on the coast of the Ionian Sea, not far from Metaponto. The Aglianico del Vulture is the figurehead of this small region and is one of the best products of Southern Italy. A tiny portion of it is produced as a rare spumante in Metodo Classico, which must be mentioned as a special peculiarity.
2. Grape varieties
With a share of only 0.3 percent of total wine production in Italy, it is one of the smallest growing areas. The planted vines in Basilicata are dominated by red grape varieties: 82% are red/rose wine. More than 80% is from the grape variety of Aglianico.
Red varieties White varieties
Aglianico Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata
Malvasia Nera di Basilicata
3. Style of wines
Dry summers and cold winters characterize the continental-influenced climate in the north. The soil structures are complex, sand and tuff are found as well as mineral components of volcanic origin, clay, and lime. In the Basilicata yields especially the red grape Aglianico very good results. Around the Vulture, it is being developed into long-lasting, elegant and robust red wines. This is mainly due to the fact that the variety can mature in peace in most years, as it is not exposed to extreme heat as in some other wine regions and thus matures too quickly. Here, in this part of the country, Aglianico is usually harvested only at the end of October – a time untypical for Italy. This clearly benefits the wine. Some of these wines ripen in the typical earthen cellars, which were dug around Barile long ago in the loess walls. The result is a deep dark wine with an intense bouquet and strong taste, plenty of tannins and an elegant body.
Nature – top 3 to visit in Basilicata
Natural beauty in Basilicata
The inland offers natural beauties, which is crossed by the mountains of the Apennines. The visitor is surprised by the extensive, lush green forests that thrive on the fertile lava soil of the meanwhile extinct volcano Mont Vulture. Nature reserves impress with unexpected wealth of animals and plants. Vineyards and olive groves stand out in contrast to barren and rugged landscapes. Thus, the landscape is extremely varied and always offers new impressions.
Parco Nazionale del Pollino – green lung of the Basilicata
One of the biggest highlights is the Parco Nazionale del Pollino, the largest national park in Italy, characterized by the impressive Pollino mountain range, numerous animal and plant species, and several waterfalls and rivers. A part of the park is also part of Calabria. Do not miss the Pollino National Park as you travel through Basilicata, exploring the breathtaking scenery, mountains, and ravines on a hike, horseback ride or even a canoe or rafting tour. On the way, even some small villages await you, where you can take a break and enjoy the southern Italian cuisine, for example.
Parco Naturale di Gallipoli Cognato e della Dolomiti Lucane – the green heart
At least as popular is the Parco Naturale di Gallipoli Cognato e della Dolomiti Lucane, the so-called green heart of Basilicata. This natural park is located southeast of Potenza, in the middle of the Lucanian Dolomites and is dominated by the 1,319 meter high Monte dell’ Impiso and the 1,149 meters high Monte Croccia, the two most important elevations of the Lucanian Apennines. Once there, you should definitely visit the two mountain villages of Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano. Immerse yourself in the village life of the locals, visit the pubs, churches and some extraordinary sights along the route, which are waiting for you on almost every corner, and enjoy fantastic views of the so-called small Dolomites.
Parco della Murgia Materana – where you can find frescoes from the 8th century
The wonderful Parco della Murgia Materana is definitely worth a trip if you are staying in the Basilicata and are looking for a unique nature. Together with Matera, this natural and archaeological park is designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. Raw park landscapes and medieval rock churches, built in caves and cliffs with even frescoes of the 8th century, invite to elaborated hikes and cycling tours.