Basilicata's unique and ancient stone structures.

Basilicata: Italy’s Oldest New Tourist Attraction

Move over Rome and Venice…here’s comes Basilicata! We’ve recently watched an explosive interest in Italy’s southern region with a history of 11,000 years, and want to give you the full profile on Italy’s newest popular place to visit. Read below to begin your discovering of the enchanting Basilicata.

Region Overview

Basilicata’s unique and ancient stone structures.

Basilicata spans a total of 3860 sq miles, located at the “insole” of Italy’s boot, between Puglia to the east, Campania to the west, and Calabria to the south. Its population of approximately 600,000 people resides in the two provinces, Matera and Potenza, with the capital in Potenza. The western part of Basilicata is traditionally known as Lucania, named in ancient times for the Lucani population meaning “white,” “wolf,” or “sacred wood.” The name Basilicata, from basilikos, meaning “imperial,” was given by the Byzantines in the sixth century A.D.


Basilicata boasts one of the most ancient histories on the Italian peninsula, with archaeological sites of homo erectus dating back to the Paleolithic age and preserved rock paintings near Filino from the Mesolithic age. In ancient and modern history, the region has survived under the rules of the Greeks, Romans, Germans, Byzantines, Saracens, Muslim, Normans, Kingdom of Naples, Kingdom of Sicily, and, finally, the country of Italy. This extensive exposure to several cultures has cultivated a rich culture and proud, tightly-knit population who remained relatively agrarian and poor until recent years, when its potential was recognized by tourists and industrial entrepreneurs alike.


Plate of fresh past made in the traditional Basilicata fas

Fresh pasta made in the traditional Basilicata fashion of mixing flour, salt, and water.

The region’s history of poverty has contributed greatly to its cuisine, which has gained significant recognition in the past few years. Artisan Luganega sausages, fresh pasta made from water, salt and flour (omitting the usual eggs present in the rest of Italy’s pasta), and the abundant use of seasonal vegetables and legumes are prominent in the cuisine. It could be said that the strength of the cuisine is its simplicity and ability to highlight local flavors with few ingredients to create a dish unmatched by some of the finest cuisines in the world.

Main Attractions

  • The Sassi di Matera are one arguably the most visited site in the region. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Matera features 7,000-year-old cave dwellings, which have been lived in and still house residents, restaurants, hotels, and shops.
  • The area of Vulture Melfese has recently drawn those with an interest in wine, showcasing its  high-quality red, Aglianico, and offering gastronomes several opportunities to taste the region. The small town of Bernalda, the former home of Francis Ford Coppola’s grandfather and current location of his newly-opened Villa Margherita, offers just such an experience.
  • Lovers of natural beauty will find 32km of coastline and national parks in Maratea, watched over by the second largest statue of Christ in the world. The region also offers no less than 44 churches and various historical sites to all visitors.
  • Pollino offers its guests a bit of everything, containing a national park, prehistoric cave drawings and burial sites, and unique vacation spots such as the thermal springs in Latronico.

About the Author: Martina

An Italian American who is proud of my heritage, I love all things Italy and can't get enough of learning about and sharing the food, culture, history and people - especially the food and wine! I have lived and researched in multiple Italian cities and traveled up and down the Boot, but my heart belongs to Rome and I am fairly certain that I was meant to have been born Roman. At Select Italy I work as the Food and Wine Specialist. Follow me on Twitter @MartiZuc

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