|A Basilicata claim to fame is that pasta was invented there! Dispute this if you dare, but an irrefutable first-ever reference to it was made by the Latin poet Horace after 50BC when returning to his native Lucanian village. Anyway, alive and well today, the local pasta-making tradition offers us a bewildering array of pasta shapes in all sizes: fusilli, lagane, macaroni, capunti, cavatelli, orechietti and strascinati to name but a few. Another, maybe more dubious, claim for Basilicata is the invention of the original sausage, known as lucanica or lucanega in many parts of Ancient Roman Italy and which, locals will argue, therefore supports their claim. Either way, they’re excellent, try sopressate, dried and preserved in olive oil.Like many mountain regions of Italy, Basilicata’s cuisine is sometimes spicy and strongly flavoured. Mature cheeses and ginger add depth and richness to many dishes while retaining that healthy Mediterranean quality - olive oil is always called upon in the preparation of most dishes while butter is used rather like cheese. And vegetables, on their own, or partnered with pasta or beans, are often enjoyed as a first course. Meat dishes figure deliciously, especially mutton or goat, grilled, braised or baked.|| ||We always recommend outdoor markets as the best way to experience real Italian food shopping. In the case of Basilicata they are even more relevant due to the virtual absence of the ubiquitous supermarket and hypermarket chains that proliferate in other regions. Whether you like it or not, most food shopping will have to be done in the noisy, colourful, fragrant and, typically Italian, open air market. Check for market days with your owner on arrival or at the local tourist office. || ||Basilicata’s wines are not of the highest ’official’ quality and vintage however they are seriously quaffable and cheap. Mentions should be made to look out for Aglianico del Vulture, the quality Basilicata red based on vines that were introduced in the days of Ancient Greece, and a great accompaniment to meats. Another fine red is Rosso di Roccanova. Among the best whites are the refreshing Asprino, which has a straw-green colour, and Vulcanello Bianco, produced in Rionero and possessing a similarity to the delectable Greco di Tufo || |
This part of Italy has had a truly varied history of inhabitants, from the Greeks, Romans, Byzantians, Normans, Swabians and Angevins. The story of this very special region of Italy is told through its art, and there is a wealth of it here in Basilicata observed mostly through its churches and castles.
Matera’s Palaeolithic settlements Sassi, appear on the World Heritage List by UNESCO, and are in its most simple terms caves. Once dug out of the rock by shepherds in order to keep their families safe, there was no initial design yet now attracts visitors from around the globe to marvel at this architectural masterpiece. So dramatic, it was chosen as the setting for Mel Gibson’s film The Passion.
The statue of Christ the Redeemer (Il Redentore) with arms outstretched watches over Maratea in the Gulf of Policastro. Admittance is free and the views are breathtaking.