Ed.’s note – We published a number of great notes by Valerie when she lived in La Marche, and are very happy now to be publishing new notes of hers from Basilicata, where she runs My Bella Basilicata, (Basilicata trip planning services and genealogy research). Grazie Valerie!!
When I tell people that I bought a house in Italy, the usual response is, “How fantastic! When I tell them it’s located in Basilicata, they get a blank look and say, “Where?”
Basilicata is possibly the least-known region in the peninsula. It is cuddled between Puglia, Calabria and Campania and is the most sparsely populated part of the country. Little is written about the region, and what is published generally refers to it as “poverty-stricken” or “backwards.” Basilicata is misunderstood, underappreciated and overlooked.
Our first trip south was to explore my family heritage. Several trips and many wonderful, welcoming experiences tied up our heart-strings with a bow.
The more we explored Basilicata the more we were smitten. The natural beauty and the genuine warmth of the people completely won us over. There are only two cities – Potenza, the regional capital, and Matera, a splendid ancient place that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and probably the oldest city in Europe. The rest of the region is comprised of relatively small towns, stubbornly clinging to hilltops and keeping their traditions alive.
Basilicata dips two toes into two seas, but overall the landscape is rocky and rugged, even primitive. It has a unique and raw beauty. There are wavy wheat fields, rolling hills punctuated with olive groves and grape vines, and Colorado-like mountains ribboned with rivers and sliced with gorges. Time-worn villages cling to ridges and hilltops. Millions of stars cast an amazing display. Butterflies dance in the sun, and eagles and falcons guard the skies. And the Lucani welcome visitors with curious glances and open smiles.