11 Best Places in Basilica

Castelmezzano, Italy in the Basilicata region

Basilicata is a scenic area in the south of Italy that is becoming increasingly popular. The region is nestled between Calabria, Puglia and Campania. Most of the area consists of hilly landscape. Nevertheless, the short coastline of Basilicata can also delight seaside vacationers and water sports enthusiasts with its beautiful beaches.

The region of Basilicata borders on the Gulf of Policastro of the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west with a small stretch of coastline and on the Gulf of Taranto of the Ionian Sea in the southeast with a strip of coastline about 30 km long. Densely wooded areas and valleys with lush flora and fauna alternate with barren landscapes, especially along the Tyrrhenian coast.

In Basilicata there are some large natural parks. The most important is the “Parco de Pollino”, which is one of the largest nature reserves in Europe. There you can admire the cave settlements “Sassi di Matera”. Or visit the ruins of the Greek city Metaponto. Countless prehistoric finds can be marveled at there.

11. Potenza

Main square in Potenza, Italy

Potenza is the capital of the Basilicata region in the south of Italy, which is especially known for its beautiful mountain scenery. The impressive hills and gorges of the surrounding area characterize the relaxing atmosphere in the city, which more and more visitors are discovering for themselves.

Those who decide to spend their vacation in Potenza can take a relaxing shopping tour through the tranquil center or enjoy the idyllic nature. In addition, the city has some historical sights that guests should definitely visit. The Cattedrale di San Gerardo, built in the 12th century, was later lavishly restored several times and is now one of the most beautiful buildings in the area. The 17th century Palazzo Loffredo, which today houses the Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Basilicata, is also located in the old town.

Last but not least, Potenza has many tranquil squares where small restaurants and cafes invite you to linger. In Piazza Mario Pagano, for example, vacationers can discover the culinary specialties of the region with a view of the impressive palazzi of the old town. Equally recommended is a detour to the Villa Comunale Park and the Parco di Montereale, which offer wonderful impressions with picturesque avenues and a unique view of the surrounding countryside.

10. Parco della Murgia Materana

Regional Natural and Historical Park of the Rupestrian Churches of the Murgia Materana
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From the Sassi and its numerous viewpoints, towards the east, you can see the wonderful archaeological natural landscape of the Parco della Murgia Materana e delle Chiese Rupestri. It extends over about 8000 hectares between the municipalities of Matera and Montescaglioso and was established in 1990 to protect, restore and enhance the natural habitat and heritage of the rock churches.

Don’t be fooled by its rugged appearance, because the territory of the Murgia Park actually hides a beauty characterized by imposing cliffs, hilly expanses, waterfalls and deep gorges. Losing oneself in the silence of this landscape, with only the sound of the stream caressing the canyon in the background, is an almost mystical experience.

But the park is also one of the most important archaeological sites in Italy and walking along its paths is like diving into history, through Paleolithic and Neolithic caves that became home to prehistoric people in search of shelter, entrenched villages and rock churches. The more than 150 churches, almost entirely carved into the rock, date from the early Middle Ages to the nineteenth century.

9. Pollino National Park

Scenic view from Serra Di Crispo, Pollino National Park, southern Italy
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The Pollino National Park (Italian: Parco Nazionale del Pollino) was founded in 1993 and, with an area of more than 190,000 hectares, is the largest national park in Italy and one of the largest nature reserves in Europe.

It is located on the border between the regions of Basilicata and Calabria, where it covers almost the entire land area between the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west and the Ionian Sea in the east of the country.

The landscape of the park is characterized by the Sinni, Rubbio, Sarmento, Lao and Raganello rivers and the mountains of Monte Alpi and Monte Pollino. Thus, the Pollino National Park is perfect for long hikes and rafting tours.

8. Metaponto

Tavole Palatine of Metaponto. Basilicata. Italy
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Metaponto in the Basilicata region was founded in ancient times as a Greek colony. The world-famous scholar Pythagoras once opened a renowned school of philosophy here. The town’s archaeological museum and extensive excavation site attract many history buffs.

The Achaians, native to the northwest of the Peloponnese, had penetrated as far as southern Italy in the 7th century BC and had established several Greek settlements here. In addition to Metaponto, these included Sybaris and Kroton. It was not until the 3rd century BC that Metaponto became a Roman province.

Metaponto today belongs to Matera in the Italian region of Basilicata. It is located in the urban area of Bernalda. The main attraction of the town is the archaeological museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Metaponto) and the excavation site located a little over two kilometers from it. The archaeological museum in the Località Metaponto/Bernalda exhibits finds from the ancient city. In the Area Archeologica it is worth visiting the ruins of the temples of Athena, Artemis, Hera and Apollo, as well as the ancient theater. The temple of Hera at Tavole Palatine, outside Metaponto, is also well worth a visit.

7. Venosa

Orazio square in Venosa, Potenza, Italy
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At an altitude of about 400 meters, in the midst of the foothills of Monte Vulture, lies the small town of Venosa with just under 12,000 inhabitants. The hilly landscape around the inactive volcano is used today, among other things, for the cultivation of red wine. The favorable location makes Venosa an ideal starting point for excursions to Bari and Naples. Traces indicate that the area was inhabited more than 600,000 years ago. After Venusia was conquered by the Romans, it was connected to the famous Via Appia road.

Venosa was one of the most powerful cities of the Roman Empire in Italy. From the former city can still be seen an amphitheater and several temples from the 1st and 2nd century.

Today, the provincial city is also often referred to as the “city of art”. Among the sights of Venosa is the alleged birthplace of the famous poet Horace. Also worth a visit are the abbey complex Abbazia della Santissima Trinita, the cathedral Sant’Andrea Apostolo from 1503 and the church San Filippo Neri from the 17th century. Very interesting are also the Jewish catacombs, discovered in 1853.

6. Montescaglioso

Church of St. Rocco of Montescaglioso. Basilicata. Italy
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The small municipality belongs to the area of the Parco delle Chiese rupestri del Materano and is therefore also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. No less than four monastic complexes are located in Montescaglioso, the most important being the Benedictine Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo, built in 1079, with a Renaissance cloister and important frescoes. Montescaglioso is also often called the city of monasteries, because three other monasteries can be found here.

The Monastery of St. Augustine from the 15th century, a Capuchin monastery from the 17th century) and the Monastery of the Holy Conception from the 18th century. Moreover, the church of San Rocco and the church of Stefano can be admired here. In the municipal territory there are also rock churches, which are an integral part of the World Heritage of the region.

A walk near the Benedictine Abbey reveals the historic center of the village of Montescaglioso with charming houses, mostly whitewashed in bright colors, standing close together. Scattered throughout the old town, which is found around Piazza Roma, are also bars, restaurants and ice cream parlors that invite you to visit.

5. Pietrapertosa

Pietrapertosa, Italy at Dusk
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Pietrapertosa belongs to the association Borghi piu belli in Italia – the most beautiful villages in Italy – and for good reason. Situated below rugged cliffs, the small village enjoys a spectacular position in the Lucanian Dolomites at an altitude of 1,088 meters, making it the highest village in the Basilicata region. Pietrapertosa is also located in the protected Regional Park Gallipoli Cognato and small Lucanian Dolomites. The oldest part of the town is due to the Saracens and is still called Arabat.

There the streets are narrow and steep, with many stairs, partly the rock walls on which the village was built were integrated and used for the construction of the houses. At the very top, the Castello Normanno-Svevo (Norman-Svevo Castle or Fortress), dating back to the 9th century, is enthroned. A staircase leads up to it, and from the top you have a fantastic view over the countryside, as the castle was once of strategic importance. Walking through the village, one discovers numerous former noble palaces, adorned by stone portals with emblems, flowers, inscriptions and other decorative elements of bygone times.

4. Craco

View of Craco, a ghost town near Matera, Basilicata, Italy
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Craco is a small village in the Basilicata region just under 60 kilometers from Matera. Although it has long been an abandoned ghost town, this little spot has managed to make a name for itself. It has served as a backdrop for famous films, such as the Bond flick “Quantum of Solace” or the controversial work “The Passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson. Standing at the foot of the hill and looking at the ruins, you almost feel like you’re in a storybook.

Even from a distance you can see the ghostly looking place perched on top of a mountain, and below it is the new village of Craco Peschiera. People left Craco at that time because landslides caused massive destruction more often. One of them was triggered in 1963 by the construction of a sewage system. After the flight of the approximately 1,800 inhabitants, the buildings began to deteriorate. Today, the entire place is a single sight with a mystical and unique atmosphere that is impossible to escape.

3. Castelmezzano

Castelmezzano, Basilicata. Italy
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Castelmezzano is a village in the Lucanian Dolomites, situated on the slope below rocky peaks – romantically embedded in the landscape of this region of Basilicata. Castelmezzano is a member of the association “Borghi piu belli d’Italia” (beautiful villages in Italy) and lives up to its name. The village is located in the Regional Park Gallipoli Cognato and small Lucanian Dolomites. Not far away is also Pietrapertosa, which is at least as worth seeing and spectacularly located. Both villages are connected by a hiking trail. Alternatively, you can move from one place to another on a wire rope through the air.

In historic Castelmezzano you can explore traces of the Crusades: Castelmezzano was an important stop for knights on their way to the Holy Land at the time of the Crusades. Traces of this past can be found on the symbols that can be found on the facade of the old church of Santa Maria dell’Olmo.

Steep stairs, narrow streets, some chapels and churches offer themselves to be explored. There are beautiful views of the village from Piazza Emilio Caizzo, as well as of the surrounding countryside. The Lucanian Dolomites with their bizarre rock formations offer opportunities for climbing, hiking, biking and more make the area attractive.

2. Maratea

View at green hill with statue in Maratea town in Italy
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One of the most beautiful resorts in the region is the town of Maratea on Mount San Biagio. From the rocks you have a breathtaking panoramic view over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Around Maratea there are extensive but also smaller pebble and sandy beaches, lush vegetation with blue hydrangeas, bougainvilleas, olive trees, pine forests and mighty cacti. Directly on the turquoise sea you can admire numerous sacral buildings and buildings from the Middle Ages. In addition, the town has a lot to offer in terms of leisure activities and culinary delights.

In the historical center with its narrow streets you can see many buildings from the Middle Ages. There are numerous churches, monasteries, chapels and hermit caves throughout the town, which have earned it the name of City of 44 Churches. On the top of Mount San Biagio there is the basilica of the same name, built in honor of the Holy Patron Saint of Maratea in the 6th and 7th centuries. In this place you can also see some remains of the ancient Maratea.

Mount San Biagio is definitely a must to climb and admire the 22 meters high statue of Christ, the symbol of the city.

1. Matera

Matera - cave city, Basilicata, Italy
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The southern Italian city of Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world. Its cave settlements, the Sassi, date back to the Middle Ages and are among the most important rock settlements in southern Europe. Since 1993, the Sassi of Matera have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The small town of Matera is located in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, which has so far been spared from mass tourism. Its breathtakingly beautiful location above the deep valley Gravina di Matera and its beautiful old town with countless caves make Matera a real tourist highlight.

The Sassi (rocks) of Matera are cave settlements carved in tufa, connected by a gigantic network of alleys and squares and by underground caves and passages. Once you have looked at the Sassi of Matera from the new town, you will not soon forget the sight. In the cave dwellings, which were cut deeper and deeper into the rocks over time, man and cattle lived together in a very confined space. Until 1952, about 15,000 people still lived in the Sassi.

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Map of Basilicata