An Introduction to Basilicata, Italy
Basilicata is located in Southern Italy, and it has two beautiful coastlines, one bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea and the other along the Gulf of Taranto, on the Ionian Sea. Also known by its ancient name Lucania, this incredible region is a popular European tourism destination.
With stunning art cities, the breathtaking “Sassi di Matera”, lots of kilometers of white sand beaches, rocky bays with crystal-clear waters, and two national parks, Basilicata is also a land with incredibly delicious food and wines.
An unmissable region fit for every travel group!
Things to See & Do in Basilicata
Basilicata is filled with incredible things to see, but the region’s shining star is the city of Matera. A UNESCO site, you will instantly fall in love with its “Sassi”, the houses dug into the rock side becoming cave homes. The Sassi are thought to be the first human dwellings in Italy.
There’s nothing better than wandering through Matera’s winding cobble-stoned streets, which are actually the rooftops of the caves, and marveling at the view of the spectacular Gravina Canyon below.
Another beautiful spot in Basilicata is Potenza, the region’s capital city. Don’t miss the stunning Duomo of Potenza. Another thing to do in Potenza is go for relaxing walks around the city and admire the beautiful façades of the palaces and churches.
If you are into history, stopping at Venosa is a must. The town was the birthplace of the Latin poet Horace, and you can visit his house. Venosa also hosts the Archaeological Museum, inside the stunning Aragonese Castle.
History lovers will also be thrilled by the ancient site of Metaponto. The Greeks founded the town in the second half of the 7th century BCE, which represents one of the most important testimonies of Magna Graecia. Unmissable is also a visit to the Archaeological Park of Grumentum, known as the “Little Pompeii of Basilicata”.
Basilicata is not only known for its rich ancient history but also for its mesmerizing beaches. On the Ionian coast, you will find sandy and shallow beaches fit for the whole family. Particularly popular is Policoro, the region’s best-known seaside resort. The town also houses the WWF Policoro Heraclea Oasis, a protected area of great importance for preserving the local flora and fauna.
The Tyrrhenian coast has instead rocky beaches, which are great for those seeking sporty activities. In the area of Matera, you will find the Calette di Maratea (coves), among which Calaficarra stands out for its unspoiled nature.
Are you more into mountains than beaches? Basilicata gets you covered! The region has several National Parks to visit, the Pollino National Park (the largest), the National Park of Appennino Lucano, and the Gallipoli Cognate Park. The parks are perfect for climbing, trekking, bicycling, and horse riding.
The snow-covered national parks also make Basilicata a perfect winter ski destination!
Secret Gems of Basilicata
A gem in the Basilicata region is the town of Maratea, affectionately called the “little Rio de Janeiro” for a striking feature: the colossal statue of Christ Redeemer perched on the top of Mount San Biagio, silhouetted against the blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The giant statue is visible from every town in the Gulf of Policastro, but looking it up close is an unforgettable experience.
Food & Drink of Basilicata
Basilicata might be a small region but it has a long-lasting food tradition loved by every visitor. The inhabitants are particularly proud of their farming traditions, so you cannot but taste the countless products from Basilicata. Caciocavallo Podolian, a soft and tasty cheese, and the popular Salsiccia lucana, a spicy sausage, are among the region’s best-known delicacies.
A staple of Lucanian cuisine is Peperone crusco (crusco pepper). A fantastic dish with this ingredient is Strascinati con mollica e peperoni cruschi, a simple pasta dish seasoned with olive oil, anchovies, garlic, breadcrumbs, and crispy flakes of crumbled peperoni cruschi.
A must-try is the Rafanata, a hybrid of an omelet and a frittata, made with eggs, potatoes, horseradish, and pecorino cheese. Rafanata is best paired with Matera bread, made with a special kneading method and a local wheat variety.
Another great baking product is Strazzata, a regional type of focaccia usually served at feasts and weddings. For dessert, you need to try Anginetti di Lauria, cookies made from flour, sugar, eggs, and olive oil. Sometimes flavored with anise seeds or fennel, they are finished with a glaze of sugar and lemon.
Another local sweet? Scorzette lucane, meringue cookies which are perfect to serve with an espresso coffee or a glass of liqueur. Truly delicious!