Basilicata, Italy

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.

basilicata-matera

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.

Beauty

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.

basilicata-coast-sunset

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.

national-parks-basilicata
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, …

History

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.

basilicata-towers
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:

https://owlcation.com/humanities/Pentamerone

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.

Welcome to the Town of Hamelin (Germany)

Hamelin makes a great short trip in Germany!

leisthaus-hamelin-tourst-attraction

The Hamelin is a lovely town in Germany with strong romantic medieval feel. It has around 56 thousand inhabitants and lies by the river Wesser in Lower-Saxony. Despite being relatively small Hamelin (or Hameln) already has about three thousand (!) years of history. First known settlement in the area was a monastery founded in 851 AD and a village in the neighborhood slowly grown to the size of the town in the 13th century.

where-is-hamelin-germany

According to the old legend, something strange happened at the end of the 13th century in Hamelin. Something eerie. We’ll probably never know what, yet numerous retellings of the story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin won’t let us forget. The town of Hamelin is full of reference about the tale, including statues, signs, names of the streets and pictures of rats which are included in the story, yet probably didn’t play any role in the real events after which the legend was formed. Every Sunday from mid-May to mid-September a play made after the legend is played in the town center and figures on the town clock play the scenes from the tale a few times per day!

hamelin-seightseeing-pied-piper

What to do in Hamelin?

There’s even a tourist guide dressed like a Pied Piper offering an hour and a half long tour constructed after the legend and full of interesting anecdotes, but this is far from everything the town can offer to a tourist. A picturesque neighborhood clearly calls for lovely day trips by car or by bicycle (you can rent a bike too). There are charming old mills, Klut hill with a sightseeing tower with a spectacular view over the landscape of Hamelin-Pyrmont, an old historically important prison now turned into a hotel and dozens of nice restaurants.

Don’t forget the possibility of tours on the water or just long walks through beautifully restored historical town with buildings from Renaissance era. If you like churches, you can admire several of them dating from 9th to 18th century and being true historical and architectural textbooks. Don’t forget to visit HefeHof, a marketplace where many local specialties and several international restaurants can be found.

city-of-hamelin-germany

Where to stay?

According to official statistics and several trip advisors, Hamelin has low or very low levels of pollution in different measurable areas and is also considered as a relatively safe town as far as crime is concerned. Before you go, just try to make a rough plan about the attractions you want to visit, because when you arrive, time will fly very fast.

How about the prices? Well, this is Germany, so they won’t be very low. A night (with a breakfast) in a hotel will cost you around one hundred Euros and you can also rent an apartment for a similar price. In the center, you’ll find a tourist office where all additional information and lots of souvenirs are available. If you don’t really know what you want from the Hamelin town, they can offer you guided tours and inform you about several day or overnight activities.

Well, if you need more time to decide, they even have a movie in five languages, where you can get even more info before you dive into the magic of this very special German town.

Interesting facts about history of Dubrovnik

Ever heard about Dubrovnik? Check it’s interesting history with next facts!

Dubrovnik is the pearl of Adriatic. (Lord Byron)

If you by any chance already heard about Dubrovnik, it was probably in connection with luxurious holiday locations for celebrities. It is actually not a fresh trend. I found out Agatha Christie spent her honeymoon in Dubrovnik. When we look at spectacular fortifications and amazing beaches, it is very easy to miss how much the city more has to offer.

city-walls-of-dubrovnik

So here are some interesting facts about Dubrovnik:

1. The name Dubrovnik is derived from dubrava (oak tree), but distorted by Turks to Dobro-Venedik (Good Venice). Venice was long-term rival and ally to the city.

2. Despite the legend of being founded on rocky island which served as a shelter , latest findings suggest it was established by Greek sailors what is supported with with next facts:

– being approximately half way between two well known Greek settlements,

– lying about one day of travel by a ship from each,

– having a good supply of fresh water.

3. It is believed Dubrovnik is among ten best preserved medieval walled cities in the world.

4. Dubrovnik was a center of Republic of Dubrovnik (1325-1808) which was independent under protection of Turkish Empire and other stronger entities. With over three hundred ships it had at its peak the third biggest capacity of ships in the world.

5. Motto of the Republic was: “Liberty can’t be sold for all the gold.” Dubrovnik officially abolished slavery in 1416, centuries before Great Britain or USA (both in 19th century).

6. There is a rumor Republic of Dubrovnik was the first state which recognized United States as independent country. This is not true for several reasons including simple fact Republic of Dubrovnik wasn’t real sovereign, but it is true they were probably the first who have sent merchants in New York in 1776 right after the Declaration was signed.

spectacular picture of dubrovnik by night

7. It is on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO from 1979.

8. The Patron Saint of Dubrovnik is Saint Blaise, who supposedly warned the rector of the cathedral in his dreams against the invasion of Venetians. There is a huge feast in his honor in every February.

9. There are 5.423 steps in Old Town of Dubrovnik: 1.080 on the city wall and 4.343 within the perimeter.

10. Considering rich cultural, scientific and political history it should be no surprise to find it as a scene of numerous festivals and other important international events, especially in July and August.

If you search for the Paradise on Earth, you should visit Dubrovnik. (George Bernard Shaw)

 

What to do in London?

Things to do in London

 

With so many options the question is really not “What to do in London?”, but rather how to make the best of time in this metropolis. Because we are so different, don’t expect the exact answer with discount coupons. Well, I’ll probably should start …

 

photo-tower-of-london

 

Why London? It was named as the best city in the world several times. It claims it has best theater scene in the world, better museums than Paris and New York and is claimed as the cultural capital of the world. With so rich historical background and so many connections with all parts of the world, it can’t be far from truth.

Visit Tower Bridge and London Eye, or, if you are more into sacral objects, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral or less famous St Bride’s Church which tiered design supposedly inspired designs of modern wedding cakes, relax in at least one of the eight Royal Parks (from legendary Hyde Park with its legendary Speaker’s Corner to the Greenwich as the oldest of all Royal Parks and have it own herd of deers), walk over the Trafalgar Square or Millennium Bridge or even take a cruise on Thames River. Did you know you can visit Modern Tate Gallery with many collections of contemporary artists for free?

London is a city of technological innovations for centuries as well. The first traffic lights were installed in London at the House of Commons in 1868. They were made of semaphore arms and gas lamps of red and green color. The system was operated by a constable. Less than one month after the start lamps exploded due to the leakage of gas and injured him. The project was abandoned until 1912, when Salt Lake City in USA introduced electric traffic lights.

great-fire-of-london

 

London was also the largest city in the world for the majority of 19th century, when it counted from 1.3 to 6 million people. Now it has over 8 million people, but it is not even in top 10 anymore. Large cities are of course more prone to all sorts of catastrophes and London was no exception. Let’s point out only one which is particularly interesting because of the consequences. It was so called The Great Fire of London. Although it destroyed more than 13 thousand houses, the official number of deaths is only six. This sounds really shocking when we compare the number with number of people who died by jumping or dropping from the Monument to the Great Fire of London.

Yes, I could go on and on. But it’s still better to go – in London!