It’s really no surprise to us why the New York Times selected Basilicata as one of their 52 Places to Go in 2018. This southern Italian region came in at #3 on the list and we are sharing some of the reasons why we think you should consider it on your next trip to Italy.
Go Back in Time in Matera
Nestled in the mountainous interior of Basilicata, close to the border of Puglia, you will find the city of Matera and the “Sassi di Matera”. In 1993, Matera was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cave dwellings carved directly into the rock that are believed to be home to some of the first human settlements in Italy going back to 15,000 BC. The town of Matera was also named the “2019 Capital of Culture” by the Italian Ministry of Tourism. There is no question that The Sassi are a “must-see” when visiting Basilicata. You can spend hours walking trough the maze of alleys and streets of this ancient town that crawls up from a ravine with houses carved into the rock, one on top of the other. It’s quite remarkable to think of just how old some of these settlements are. Today, you can stay in a cave hotel or dine in a cave restaurant, which only adds to this unique and unforgettable experience.
Enjoy The Coast in Maratea
Maratea is the only comune in Basilicata on the coastline and thanks to its gorgeous beaches and medieval hilltop villages, it has often been referred to as “The Pearl of the Tyrrhenian”. Maratea is made up of 10 hamlets. The old town of Maratea, founded in the 13th century, is known as “Maratea Borgo” and sits on the slopes of Mount San Biagio, overlooking the stunning coastline. It is famous for its 44 churches of which San Biagio, Santa Maria Maggiore, Rosario and dell’Annunziata are some of the most interesting to visit. One of the most captivating things about Maratea is the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer, similar to the one in Rio De Janiero. Make your way up to the statue and take advantage of the panoramic viewpoint that offers you a breathtaking view of the Maratea coast.
You can’t highlight any region of Italy without giving some attention to its local cuisine. Basilicata is mainly a mountainous region and its food traditions are deeply rooted in “cucina povera” and consists mainly of cheeses and meats, in particular pork. As a matter of fact, Basilicata is known for its high-quality pork and even more so for its Lucania sausages. Many of the cheeses are made from sheep and goat, and it’s here that you’ll find delicious Pecorino and a creamy cacioricotta. Another important culinary tradition that the people of Basilicata still pride themselves on is bread. The Pane di Matera, is one of the most well-known breads of the region still made in the traditional way.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Do you love nature and adventure travel? Well, Basilicata has something you’ll probably love! Sasso di Castalda, located about a half hour from Potenza, was once a Norman stronghold and you can still see the the ruins of the castle and its rich history. Being a stronghold means being in a strategically beneficial place and for Sasso di Castalda this means being situated in the heart of the Apennine Mountains. Here you can experience some incredible panoramic views and if you are courageous enough, choose to walk the Ponte Alla Luna for a heart-racing experience. The Ponte alla Luna is a 95-meter Tibetan-style bridge that is suspended from the cliffs of Fosso Arenazzo” about 70 meters above land. Your adrenaline will be high as you make your way across the bridge. In this case, make sure to look down and admire the natural oasis below your feet from this unique point of view. On the other side, a glass sky-walk awaits you, offering a breathtaking panorama of the mountains surrounding you as well as the ancient ruins nestled in the hills. From here, you walk down some rocky stairs which will take you towards the historic center. The whole journey takes about an hour and a half to complete.
So, there you have it. You can see that Basilicata is a beautiful place to experience so many aspects of Italian culture – from its traditions, cuisine and natural beauty. It’s also not overcrowded with tourists, allowing you to enjoy a more authentic experience.