Castelmezzano Cuddles the Crags

October 9, 2015 / Places
Castelmezzano, Basilicata

Cradled in the rocks among the jutting peaks of the Dolomiti Lucane, Castelmezzano leaves you breathless. The first glimpse of this stone town charms and beckons. At night it’s downright alluring with a hazy glow and floodlit rocks; it looks like a life-size nativity scene. Despite its small size – under 1000 inhabitants – it draws thousands of visitors every summer for its high-flying zip line, the Volo dell’Angelo.


The very sight of Castelmezzano exudes mystery and antiquity. The town was a Norman stronghold named “middle castle” because it was between the two castle fortresses of Pietrapertosa and Brindisi Montagna. Founded by folks who were fleeing Saracen raids down the valley, they couldn’t have chosen a more isolated spot to settle among the crags and clefts of the rocks. It remained in a world almost of its own until after WWII when the road was built. Before that, mule paths connected it to other towns.

Castelmezzano strings along the mountain following the natural curve the landscape, with archways, steps and lanes to explore. It’s very charming. Walk all the way along and then uphill toward the crest where you can see the old footholds in the rock that once led to a look-out point. From the ridge you can look east and on a clear day see the Ionian Sea.

Castelmezzano Basilicata

This is a hiker’s paradise, with trails and country lanes that take in sweeping landcapes in all directions. Enjoy lunch at one of the agriturismi or a trattoria in town to taste the country fare that epitomizes Italian ingenuity in using seasonable produce. Stay until the sun sets and the lights come on, a magical sight. You’ll see why Castelmezzano is one of the “borghi piu’ belli d’Italia” (prettiest villages in Italy).


Valerie Schneider

by Valerie Fortney- Schneider

Through her company My Bella Basilicata Valerie uses her tourism industry experience to offer travel planning and on-site genealogy research in the Basilicata region. She is a freelance writer with magazine and website articles to her credit, adores cappuccino, and is an enthusiastic cook.

Valerie Fortney-Schneider

10 Responses to “Castelmezzano Cuddles the Crags”

  1. Kathleen Dameo

    Thank you for your comments and lovely photos from Basilicatta. Have recently returned from travel there and would like to see more coverage of this wonderful part of Italy.

  2. Elizabeth Babb

    Thank you for this article and photos! Health concerns keep me confined to Maine, USA for awhile. This website is like a breath of fresh air to a former traveler in Italy.

  3. Its a photographers paradise…i wouldnt dare to bike up there but then i am not a cyclist. When i was there last they didnt have the zip line, how things change over the years…pietropertosa also is a haven for photos. Love Basilicata.

  4. Jack Litewka

    Good to know about his pretty village in an incredible setting. Thanks!

  5. Marianna Raccuglia

    Thank you! Very interesting and the photos are so lovely. If not for writers like you, people like me would never know that these places exist.

  6. Deborah Horn

    Valerie! I love to zipline. We do it wherever it is a possibility when we travel. I need to know more about this, don’t I?”

  7. Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

    Gorgeous! And that zipline must be awesome in a setting like this!!


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