Basilicata is the name of a Southern region in Italy which was mentioned in the New York Times as Italia’s best-kept secret. Sassi di Matera, town district of Matera is on the UNESCO World Heritage list from 1993 and Matera became European Capital of Culture for 2019.
As the name Basilicata suggests, there may be a correlation with time when the region was part of the Byzantine Imperium, but the reason may also be Basilica of Acerenza from Middle Ages. An older name for the same region was Lucania, after Lucani, the tribe which lived here in Iron Age.
You can enjoy in two stunning coastlines in Basilicata. There is Ionian on the East and the Tyrrhenian on the West.
The East offers beautiful white sand beaches, pine forests, crystal clear water, and shallow sea, ideal for family vacations with numerous activities created exactly for the family fun. Long walks, sailing, exploring lovely towns or simply enjoying in a peaceful day in one of the numerous beaches – just choose whatever you want.
The West coast, on the other hand, is more dramatic, with spectacular cliffs, contrasting landscapes and mountains reaching right to the coast it offers a bit more of adrenaline if you need some. With medieval towns, fishing boats, diving, and cave exploring it fits better more active visitors but also offers many breathtaking beaches for prolonged relaxation.
There are three national parks in the area of Basilicata. The Pollino National Park is the biggest in Italy, expanding to Calabria. High mountains, with tops always covered with the snow, offer an amazing view of the ancient forest reaching right to both coastal lines of Basilicata. With a bit of luck you can see some wild boars or wolves.
You can experience Pollino on foot, by bike, or on the horse. There are many opportunities for hiking, rafting, and real foto safari. Apart from colorful living you can see several remains of prehistoric species, a disappearing Lake Rotonda, or visit one of the organic farms. There’s a chance to sleep over in one of the eco-hostels as well.
National Park Val D’Agri Lagonegrese and The Gallipoli Cognato Park are smaller parks with some unique attractions on their own. You can find the remains of a Roman city from 3rd century BC, great challenges for rock climbers, superb views for photographers, a whole fortification system from the times of the Hannibal, …
Basilicata is inhabited from the Paleolithic times. In Neolithic times the areas of today Matera and Melfi already had some kind of villages. Greece established several colonies at the Ionian Sea around 8th century BC while Lucani inhabited the inland parts. Between 4th and 3rd century BC Lucani attacked Greek colonies to expand their territory but not much later Romans started their domination and kept the absolute power for several centuries.
Most of Lucania (the old name for Basilicata) stayed under Byzantium until Normans conquered the territory in the 12th century and made Melfi the capital of the region and actual center of Italy. Several political powers compete for this area after Norman realm ended. In the 18th century, several bloody rebellions by peasants happened, there was poverty, emigration, more rebellions, and even bandits. While tourism brings flows of fresh ideas, energy and money there are still many problems to solve.
There are still many magnificent towers and castles in the region, built in different times and different styles, from times of Byzantines, Angevins, Aragon, Swabians, and Normans, some better and some less preserved. These very castles served as the scenery for one of the most interesting books of all times: The Tale of Tales, written by Giambattista Basile, first national collection of fairy tales in the world, where some of the oldest versions of today still popular tales like Cinderella, The Rapunzel or The Sleeping Beauty were printed for the first time.
There is an article about this book, often called as Pentamerone, available here:
Tourists can still feel the magic in these old buildings, which mostly serve as museums and spectacular viewing points. Apart from castle, churches, and cathedrals numerous other remarkable buildings can be seen in Basilicata.