Basilicata, historically known as Lucania, is a hidden gem of southern Italy, offering a mix of culture, history and natural beauty for travelers. From the unique cave dwellings of Matera, to the stunning landscapes of the Parco Nazionale del Pollino, and the rich history of Venosa and Melfi, this region has a lot to offer for those who are willing to explore it. The best way to discover the hidden gems of Basilicata is by hitting the road with a campervan, van, caravan, or by going camping with a tent, allowing you to travel at your own pace and immerse yourself in the local culture. In this guide, we'll be highlighting some of the must-see and underrated places to visit in Basilicata, from charming coastal towns to ancient ruins, and natural wonders that will take your breath away. Whether you're a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a relaxing holiday, this region will not disappoint. Here is a list of a few places to visit if you plan a trip in the region:
Matera: This ancient city is known for its sassi (cave houses), which were carved out of the soft limestone rock and have been used as dwellings for thousands of years. The sassi are a UNESCO World Heritage site and offer visitors a unique glimpse into the history of human habitation in the region. Visitors can take a walk through the maze of streets that runs through the sassi and see how people used to live in the caves. They can also explore the many churches and other historic buildings that dot the city, including the Cathedral of Matera, which is a fine example of Romanesque architecture, and the Church of Madonna de Idris, which is a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture. Visitors can also enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding countryside from the terrace of Palazzo Lanfranchi, or take a guided tour of the city's Jewish quarter, which is one of the oldest in Italy.
Parco Nazionale del Pollino: This national park is located in the southern part of the region and is known for its beautiful landscapes, including the La Serra delle Ciavole, which is the highest peak in Basilicata and offers panoramic views of the entire park. The park is also a great place for hiking and bird-watching, with a wide variety of birds to spot including the golden eagle, the peregrine falcon, and the black woodpecker. The park also has a lot of other attractions, from the charming mountain villages, to the charming waterfalls, lakes and rivers that flow through the park, as well as the many ancient ruins.
Melfi: This ancient town is located in the heart of the region and is home to the Normanno-Svevo Castle, which is an impressive medieval castle that offers visitors great views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can also explore the many churches and other historic buildings that dot the town, including the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, which is one of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture in the region. The town also has an interesting history, as it was once the capital of the Normans in Southern Italy.
Venosa: This ancient town is located in the northern part of the region and is home to the remains of the ancient Roman city of Venusia, which was founded in 291 BCE. Visitors can explore the remains of the Roman city, including the remains of the Roman theater and the Roman baths, which offer a unique glimpse into the history of the region. The town also has an interesting medieval center, which is home to the Church of Santa Maria della Medaglia, which is one of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture in the region.
Parco Regionale di Gallipoli Cognato e Piccole Dolomiti Lucane: This regional park is located in the southern part of the region and is known for its beautiful landscapes, including the La Serra della Mela, which is the highest peak in the park. The park offers many hiking trails, which can be enjoyed by visitors, as well as plenty of opportunities to spot the local wildlife, including the Golden eagle and the Apennine wolf. The park also has beautiful lakes, waterfalls and rivers which can be enjoyed during the hot summer days.
Monticchio: This village located near to Matera, is home to two beautiful lakes known as the Monticchio Great Lake and Monticchio Small Lake. Both the lakes are surrounded by an enchanting forest and offer visitors the chance to enjoy a peaceful walk, a picnic or to spot some local fauna such as the deer, wild boar, and falcons. Visitors can take a hike around the lakes, and enjoy the beautiful scenery, or rent a kayak or a pedal boat and explore the lakes from a different perspective. There is also a beautiful medieval church, the church of Santa Maria della Caccia, built on the shores of the great lake.
Grumento Nova: This small town is located in the north of the region and is home to the Roman archaeological site of Grumentum, which includes the remains of a Roman theater, a Roman villa, and a Roman bath. Visitors can explore the remains of the Roman city, and learn about the history of the region. The town also has a beautiful historic center, which is home to the church of Sant'Eustachio, a fine example of Baroque architecture.
Parco Regionale dell'Appennino Lucano: This regional park is located in the northern part of the region and is home to a beautiful landscape of mountains and forests, including the La Serra dell'Orsomarso, which is the highest peak in the park. The park offers many hiking trails, which can be enjoyed by visitors, as well as plenty of opportunities to spot the local wildlife, including the Golden eagle and the Apennine wolf. The park also has beautiful lakes and rivers which can be enjoyed during the hot summer days. The park also has a rich cultural heritage, and visitors can take a tour of the traditional mountain villages, and experience the local customs and traditions.
Despite not being very known among tourists, the Basilicata region offers great opportunities to explore the nature, culture, history and also the local delicious cuisine. The region's parks, lakes, and forests, as well as its charming towns and villages, make it a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs. Camping or road tripping in this region, will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of this area and discover some of the underrated places and hidden gems of Basilicata.