Basilicata, also known by its historic name, Lucania, is situated in the 'Mezzogiorno', an area in the south of Italy renowned for its stress-free lifestyle, guaranteed sunshine, deliciously fresh food and excellent wine.
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Basilicata covers an area of 9,995 square kilometres but has a population of only 600,000 making it one of the least populated areas of Italy. Campania and Naples lie to the north west, Puglia to the north east and Calabria to the south.
Basilicata only has two provinces; Matera and Potenza.
The capital of Basilicata is Potenza which is located in the northwest of the region. The other major town of Matera is well known as the site of the 'Sassi' cave dwellings, made famous by Carlo Levi in his book 'Christ Stopped at Eboli'. In Levi's time, the people in Aliano lived in abject poverty, many suffering from a host of crippling diseases including malaria. But since then, a lot of money has been invested in the region. The environment is clean, the houses are all well appointed, the shops plentiful and well stocked, and the infrastructure superior to many other parts of Italy. The town of Maratea on the Tyrrhenian side of Basilicata is a popular, upmarket holiday destination for many Italians.
The region is largely unspoilt and shepherds still stand at the roadside all day long, watching their flocks in the sunshine, while herds of goats and long-horned cattle roam idly down the country roads, sometimes only accompanied by dogs. It is an area where local culture and traditions have remained unchanged over centuries and where the people are intensely proud of their history and independence. It is easy to imagine that any change would be fiercely resisted.
The Basilicata countryside is very rich in natural beauty, and is surrounded by three National Parks: The Cilento, the Pollino and the Sila. These parks contain vast areas of unspoilt forest and spectacular views across the mountains where wolves, eagles and wild cats are plentiful. There are facilities for white water rafting, horse riding and trekking and a ski slope on Mount Sirino which is open during the winter months. The region lies between two coasts, the Ionian side of the Basilicata coast is to the east, which is largely flat and uninteresting, and the Tyrrhenian side of the Basilicata coast is to the west, and is extremely beautiful even by Italian standards. It is here that the upmarket resort of Maratea attracts large numbers of wealthy Italian tourists in the summer. The whole area is full of restaurants and Agriturismos, offering delicious local food and wine at ridiculously low prices as well as a comfortable bed for the night.
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