Italy is made up of 20 regions, each with distinctive characteristics. Here, you’ll get an overview of Basilicata to get you started on planning a Basilicata trip.
Italy has a distinctive boot shape, making allusions to parts of a shoe inevitable when you’re talking about various points on the map. The region of Basilicata is the instep of that boot, resting comfortably between the heel and toe.
Basilicata, like much of southern Italy, is less well-known than other parts of the country, but there are some very good reasons to venture this far south – including ancient homes still in use today as well as castles, Greek and Roman ruins, and some pretty dramatic scenery.
Basilicata touches two different bodies of water, with a tiny bit of coast on the Tyrrhenian Sea and a larger stretch on the Gulf of Taranto on the Ionian Sea, but the region is primarily mountainous. The challenging landscape makes it one of Italy’s least-populated regions, though it’s also home to evidence of what many believe are the first human inhabitants in the country.
All of those mountains make Basilicata difficult to get around in if you don’t have a car. Trains will get you to the big cities, but after that you’re limited to some regional buses or – for the most freedom – renting your own wheels.
Once you’re mobile, head immediately for Matera, Basilicata’s sole UNESCO site. The cave dwellings here, called “sassi,” are believed to have been lived in since 7000 BCE, which is an awfully long time by any measure. Some are still occupied today, and some have even been turned into unique lodging.
Matera is the main draw in Basilicata, but it’s still not what most people would call overrun with tourists. As for the rest of the region, it’s pretty well ignored. The beaches get crowded during the summer months, but this is a part of Italy where you can easily get off the proverbial beaten track – whether you’re trying to or not.
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