“The region that looks like a wonderland”
White beaches and turquoise sea, villages carved in the rocks, parks and castles perched at the top of mountains shrouded in silence. Basilicata seems an enchanted village. This region offers its visitors a range of possibilities between tourism, traditions and history really vast: its past is rooted in prehistoric times and the many rock churches are testimony.
The kitchen and the local folklore are rich in Mediterranean influences, due to the numerous invasions that this region has suffered. From Greeks,to Normans up to the Aragonese, these wounds have impoverished the peasant population so as to create a consistent phenomenon of emigration in the early twentieth century. But what is most striking of Basilicata is the beauty of its greening nature, lush and in some areas really pristine. The small villages on the hills seem perfectly in tune with the landscape, so much so that at times seems to look at a painting. It will be for the colors, it will be because the people here are hospitable and overwhelming, but of the Basilicata you fall in love.
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Potenza. Its urban heart is Bourbon origin and he is recognized by the narrow streets and alleys built to dampen the wind in these areas, while all around the sixties he started to build palaces and modern apartment blocks. The true essence of Potenza emerges walking through the ancient streets of the historical center, small squares and doors. Every detail should be served with care. The city lies on the Apennines north of Lucan Dolomites, the oldest set on top of a hill, all the modern part instead was built at the foot of it. At the edge of the center of Potenza you can see what remains of the old castle, probably built in the Lombard period, of which today remains only the Torre Guevara named after the name of the last owner, Beatrice Guevara. The earthquake of 1980 has severely damaged, but today is an art gallery in the open sky. One of the oldest buildings in the city dates back to 1600: Loffredo Palace was the residence of the noble Potentini for centuries, now houses the town gallery of Potenza and the findings of the National Archaeological Museum of Basilicata. Particularly dear to the people of Potenza is the Newsstand or Temple of San Gerardo, the patron saint of the city: the Potentini call familiarly San Gerardo Marble and was built in 1865. The five columns support marble angels and rose while especially the most obvious is the glazed red behind the statue of St. Gerard. Among the most beautiful squares there is one dedicated to Mario Pagano, where views of the Teatro Stabile, the Government Palace, and the Church of San Francesco. Worthy of note are the Gates of Potenza: ancient, entered in the walls of the historic city center. Today only three remain. To visit Potenza, May is the ideal month: during Potentino May held a series of events on the occasion of the feast of the patron saint, San Gerardo: the parade of the Turks, the Palio of the Horses and veneration of the saint.
Basilicata is a region that offers different landscapes: the coastal region faces two seas, the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Sea, and is characterized by sandy beaches and Mediterranean vegetation. The hinterland is predominantly mountainous and hilly, and in some areas you get to peak a thousand meters of altitude. Natural lakes of Basilicata are only two, called “twins of the Vulture”, and are housed in two small craters in Monticchio Bagni. Artificial ones, larger than natural lakes were built for water power. Basilicata is rich in parks and natural reserves, among the most famous: the Lucanian Dolomites, within the Park of Gallipoli Cognato and remember the high peaks of the Dolomites, Veneto and Trentino, the Regional Park of the Murgia that extends between Matera and Montescaglioso, and the Natural Reserve of San Giuliano, a protected area of the WWF.
What is celebrated in Basilicata? The important thing is to disguise himself. Here are frequent festivals and pageants where people creates knightly tournaments dressed with period costumes. Every town seems to hold on its tradition. In the province of Potenza we find different events: in Brindisi Montagna, in October, the Medieval Days are held; Cancellara, in September, becomes the scene of the historic parade of the Kingdom of Naples seventeenth century; Muro Lucano, in August, takes place instead of the reenactment of Joan of Anjou. In August there is the Palio of the three feuds, Lagopesole, while realizing a real carousel horses and riders during the Legend of the Dragon every summer in Stigliano. More modern, but no less fascinating, is the competition of fireworks Fireworks in Basento held in San Luca Branca and that each year attracts thousands of tourists. In Matera is held between September and October, the Women’s Fiction Festival, the only event in Europe dedicated to women’s fiction, and provides numerous meetings with bestsellers writers,the appointments with professionals and literary prizes. Immediately after August in Metaponto, at Masseria cultural fortified tower Sea, it is the turn of Metaponto Beach Festival: a three-day concert for the young and recreation day for the little ones.
HOW TO GET
By Plane. Basilicata has no airport of its own, so if you want to reach this region flying’ll have to choose as the destination airport of Bari or that of Naples, served daily from most Italian cities. The airport of Bari is from Potenza 130 km of State (SS96), while from Naples to the capital of Basilicata there are 160 km (you have to take the A3 and E847). Flights also from Milan Malpensa and Rome Fiumicino for Salerno, hence the shortest way up to Potenza are about 90 km, that is, an hour’s drive.
By Car- From Rome to the Basilicata, with the A1, it takes about three and a half hour trip (360 km), in the height of Naples you should turn on the A30 and continue on the E847. If you want to get to Matera just continue on Route 407 towards Foggia, Matera. From Milan, awaits a long journey: to get to Potenza are about 900 km of road, almost 8 hours of travel (but much to do the Autostrada del Sole). If, however, from Milan, you have to reach Matera is better to take the A1 to Bologna and then take the A14 and, once you get up to Bari, continue on Route 96 for Altamura / Matera.
By Train- To reach Potenza, the train is one of the most comfortable solution. Matera, however, because of its location and the continuous changes of trains, is almost unattainable only with the railways. From Milan to Potenza road is downhill, with the Freccia Rossa line of Trenitalia you get to Naples and Salerno in just over 5 hours. From both stations you can take a regional train in two hours reaches the Potenza central station. From Milano Centrale also depart Intercity trains (which take longer, but are less expensive than the Freccia Rossa line) and reach Naples (7 hours) or Foggia (10 hours) from where you can take the regional train for Potenzar. From Rome Termini station there is instead an Intercity that lands in four hours and a half directly to Potenza.Other solutions from the capital always include at least one change (in Naples or Salerno).
By Bus- There are bus lines that run daily to connect Potenza to the main Italian cities including Rome, Milan, Naples, Florence, Bologna and Venice. Matera with these buses can only be reached from Rome.
They call it the “Sistine Chapel of cave painting.” About 14 km from Matera, along the wall of the Gravina Picciano, the Crypt of Original Sin is one of the few examples in the world of rock art testimony, completely covered with frescoes of the ninth century. Its name derives from the depictions of the crypt that reproduce, among others, the scene of the Original Sin. Then there is Craco Vecchia, the little Pompeii of Basilicata, fascinating ghost town (is uninhabited since 1963 when, following a large landslide, villagers were forced to move) medieval origin, and remained unchanged over time. Melfi, however, is a small town (in the province of Potenza), surrounded by thick walls and protected by a castle. It was thanks to its strategic location that saw the protagonist of important historical events: in Melfi, it was decided to undertake the first Crusade and, centuries later, Federico II promulgated the first written laws of the Middle Ages. For a citytour, between the castle, the palaces and the cathedral, you can admire the rock Church of Our Lady of Spinelle, discovered in 1845 after a landslide. Not far away, the wonderful Venosa is one of the common members of the association “The most beautiful villages in Italy”. At every corner there is something historic to discover. As the Roman remains: In the Archaeological Park are the spa, the amphitheater, and the domus. But also the complex of the Abbey of the Trinity (of which the unfinished, with its walls without ceiling, is the most impressive structure) is worth a visit. Finally, a curiosity. Did you know that, according to old legends,from the Jewish catacombs of Venosa you can get to Rome?
TRADITIONS AND FOLKLORE
Basilicata is tied to old traditions, festivals and historical events that still unite all the inhabitants of these areas. The Accettura May has pagan origins: for the entire month are performed ancient rituals, which according to tradition, are used to propitiate a good crop year. A large tree is cut and placed in the center of the country where it is combined with a smaller tree, placed on its top. Similar traditions are also present in Oppido Lucano, Pietrapertosa and Garaguso. Attracts many tourists and is spectacular in the staging of Potenza the Parade of the Turks, who gives life to the legend of the attack of the Saracens to the city, when the Potentini were taken by surprise. The sky, however, brightened and the Angels appeared that gave the time to organize the defense against these enemies. The city of Potenza prevailed and the miracle attributed to the patron saint, San Gerardo. The parade, every May 29 (Feast of the Saint), recounts these historical and mythical events. The whole city stops to admire the parade. In August there is in the province of Potenza (Vaglio Basilicata) the International Folklore Festival, which brings together folk groups from France, Turkey, Croatia who perform in performance of sounds and choreography.
Greeks, Romans, Barbarians, Normans. All the people who have gone from Basilicata have left in the kitchen (and not only) your signature: simple ingredients that create a tasty and substance gastronomy. Many recipes are similar, if not identical, to those of the neighboring Puglia, moreover the border when it comes to delicious food is really weak. Already the palates of Cicerone, Martial and Varro and other ancient illustrious Romans appreciated the products of this region, extolling the unique taste of the lucanica sausage or luganega for which each area has its own way to produce and store: there are those who prefers in oil, seasoned and those who – again – serves fresh. Between the appetizers required (but is fine as a snack) focaccia strazzata is a perfect mix of ingredients: pepper and oregano, plus the tomatoes and chilli. Among the first popular courses (and once again, historians) there are lagane and chickpeas, or hard wheat fettuccine served with garlic, oil, tomato and chickpea: a real treat of which the robbers from Vulture could not do without (and why today is referred to as “the dish of the bandit”). The meat served in every area of the region are the sheep. For cheese is a real universe of different flavors to taste: from the Canestrato of Moliterno to Caciocavallo podolico until the ricotta cheese. Characteristic specialties of the region are the peppers , or crispy: dried in, are then blanched in olive oil. The best way to eat them is to accompany them to the cod or use them as a condiment in the dough. And with what wine we toast in Basilicata? The Aglianico of Vulture, red wine of medium to high alcohol content, has a good body and is ideal to accompany foods with simple tastes.
Terracotta figurines, artistic ceramics, carved wood. The agricultural civilization that characterized these areas is felt even today in the typical objects of Basilicata. Simple materials and hard work to shape them; from this marriage, in some cases, are born of small works of art. The famous carnival masks of Tricarico, the knotted carpets of Avigliano and wrought iron products in the province of Matera. Among the products on wooden, spoons and forks, on which are often carved figures in costume tradition as women, robbers or police nineteenth century. But it is above the food products the workhorse of Basilicata: the bread of Matera, in the shape of a croissant, with much crumb and a porous texture, the Maiatiche Ferrandina olives bake according to ancient methods of processing and the ventresca, a type of bacon placed in salt then covered with chili and garlic.
DID YOU KNOW THAT..
In the village of Montescaglioso in the province of Matera, in January 5th come to life the mysterious Cucibocca? These worrying characters dressed in old black coats and a hat have longand and yellowish beards , broken chains at the foot and a lantern in his hand, knocking on doors asking for offers and threatening to sew the mouths of children. This ancient farming still takes life the night before Epiphany, when the original night parade prowls in the city scaring (and amusing) children. Do not know the origins of these figures, but the answer may be on the walls of the library of the monks of this small town where he represented the Harpocrates, the Egyptian god of silence, depicted as an old man with the cap, the index turned to his lips ask silence and a large yellowish beard.