In the southern part of Italy right above Calabria, is the region of Basilicata. This area does not have any major cities like Rome or Venice that draw hundreds of people every year. However, it has its own unique charm, only a select few have been lucky enough to experience. Referred to as the country’s best-kept secret, Basilicata is filled with friendly people, sprawling landscapes, and quaint little villages.
If you are interested in touring this region of the country, here are some places you should check out.
1. Sassi di Matera
This town was once home to a population of cave dwellers. Occupied since the Paleolithic era, the Sassi was home for many generations until the 1950s when citizens were forced into modern apartments. However, the former cave homes have become a popular tourist attraction for the region, with many visitors opting to stay the night in one of these homes.
2. Castle Tramontano
Located near Matera, this unfinished 15-century castle was the work of Count Tramontano. The count was extremely unpopular during his rule. He burdened his subjects with high taxes and was in the habit of forcing himself on new brides on their wedding night. Eventually, the people rose up and killed the count. His castle has remained untouched ever since.
Basilicata’s capital, Potenza is home to 68,000 residents. Once a military camp for the Roman Empire, this town has centuries of history for visitors to discover. There are still Roman ruins open to tourists along with the ancient city gates, the Guevara tower, and at least three churches.
4. Metaponto Archaeological Park and Museum
This historic site features the remains of the ancient Greek settlement of Metaponto. Established over 2,500 years ago, remnants of temples and monuments still remain. The museum features weaponry, jewelry, and ceramics that were unearthed around the site.
5. Melfi Castle
The town of Melfi was once the capital for the Norman Empire. The castle was built in the 13th-century during the region of Emperor Federico II. Currently, the National Archaeological Museum of Melfi is housed inside its walls, who’s collection includes a sarcophagus from the 2nd-century.
6. The Sistine Chapel of Rupestrian Art
Also known as The Crypt of Original Sin, this ancient cave is located on the Murgia Plateau. Inside the walls are painted with frescos depicting God, Adam and Eve, the Archangels, the Apostles, and the Virgin Mary. These paintings date back to the 8th-century. The Crypt is open for guided tours throughout the week, which includes an audio guide available in four different languages.
7. Cristo Redentor
Standing over 68 feet tall, this statue of Christ the Redeemer has overlooked the town of Maratea since 1965. It is the tallest sculpture of Jesus in Europe and was created with a mix of Cararra marble and cement. Visitors to the base of the statue will find some of the most spectacular views of the region as well.
8. Volo dell’Angelo
If you are looking for a new way to see Basilicata, take The Angel Flight. Located 1,312 feet above sea level, this high flying adventure sends riders zipping across almost 4,000 feet of steel cable at 70 miles an hour. The flight transports people through the Lucanian Dolomites between the towns of Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa.
9. Pollino National Park
The country’s largest national park, Pollino is the perfect place for outdoor adventures. Hikers can travel 6,000 feet above sea level to the top of Monte Pollino. Along the way, travelers can visit the Albanian towns of San Paolo and San Constantino Albanese. Both of these towns have daily traditions dating back to the 16th-century.
10. Little Pompeii
Commonly known as the Archaeological Park of Grumentum, the ruins of this city are located near the rivers Agri and Sciaura. Visitors will find the city’s former amphitheater, a temple dedicated to an Egyptian god, and the bathhouses. Based on the artifacts found on site, researchers have determined the area was populated as far back as 500,000 years ago.