Basilicata or Lucania has often been overlooked but today it is suddenly finding itself at the forefront of sustainable tourism. Consult our latest Basilicata travel articles below.
Saint Biagio is celebrated on the 3rd February every year with a festival known as the 'benedizione della gola' or 'blessing of the throat'. Why so? Well, the Saint is famous for having saved a boy from choking on a fish bone during their incarceration. Over time this act has become representative of his powers to cure all types of throat ailments and his growing cult.
Saint Biagio was Vescovo of the Armenian city of Sebaste in 4th century AD during the reigns of the Roman Emperor of the East, Licinio, and his rival from the West, Costantine. As a Christian, he was persecuted then imprisoned by the former to suffer nine days of unbearable torture only to be then thrown mercilessly into a lake. He survived, but was subsequently beheaded.
Besides chestnuts, Melfi is famous for its Norman castle and thanks to its presence allowed Melfi to be a political and administrative capital for many years. The castle was originally built in 1042 by Guglielmo d'Altavilla who became Count of Puglia.
When the Normans eventually decided Salerno was more in keeping with their lifestyle, Melfi lost its importance for ever, except for a brief and splendid moment when Frederick II set up court there.
By all accounts Aglianico del Vulture is a fairly decent wine. It is produced in the zone of Monte Vulture on the slopes of a very extinct volcano. This gives it a particular personality. The area comprises 5000 hectares and 15 comuni from Venosa, Atella and Banzi to Genzano di Lucania, Melfi and Rionero in Vulture.
The Aglianico vine was introduced into the region by the Greeks around the VI century BC. Its name is a corruption of Ellenico and was used by the Romans to enhance one of their own favorite wines, the Falerno. Little did we know that 40% of the Aglianico production is sold outside of the region and is used to improve many different wines, including Chianti.
If you stick to certified Italian beef, you can't go wrong and ever since the mad cow scare there's plenty of labelling on Italian food products in shops and supermarkets. What this has done has focused attention on Italy's native cattle breeds and it's safe to say that the beef of Lucania and the south is truly worth discovering.
In Basilicata, the common breed is called Podolica and is a direct descendent of the 'Bos Primigenius' imported by the barbarians on their way to Rome in classical times.
The Madonna Della Bruna refers to the Byzantine relic which is paraded every 2nd of July is the festival for this patron saint of Matera. The event begins at the crack of dawn when the local shepherds parade through the old quarters of the town. Originally, they would collect their fellow workers as they went and the procession acted as a kind of social wake up call.
Perhaps the oldest festival in Italy takes place in Accettura. It is so old it predates the classical era by at least a 1000 years.
Its origins go back to the dawn of human consciousness and derive from the belief that trees are living beings and are, therefore, able to come together in the act of love.
This coupling guarantees a fruitful harvest at the end of the growing season. And so it is with this annual festival taking place in the last week of May.
The male is called the 'maggio', a tall oak selected and chopped down from the nearby woods.
The female is the 'cima' or top of a holly tree cut in such a way as to leave an abundance of branches. A bush, if we may say so.
The two are carried about the town with lively enthusiasm until they are ceremoniously united.
Business boomed in Matera in Basilicata for a couple of years after Mel Gibson filmed 'The Passion of Christ' there.
Nevertheless, the Sassi may have crumbled into nothing years before if such associations initiatives as MOSA had not appreciated first the patrimony of this ancient town.
MOSA stands for the 'Azienda Speciale della Camera di Commercio per i Sassi di Matera' and is a special branch of the Chamber of Commerce of Matera.
It was created in 1985 to promote the revival of Sassi, the oldest part of the city carved in the natural gorges in the stupendous ravine.
It was here in the caves that the first inhabitants of the city lived.
It was the perfect defense from the harsh countryside and environment of the Murgia of Matera and continued to be inhabited right up to the end of the Second World War.
Indeed, even in 1952 the galleries were home to some 16,000 people.
All of them were moved to the adjacent new Matera following a law passed by the Italian government who were effectively shamed by the poverty in the Sassi as post war Italy began to boom.
What was considered a good thing then, became a cause for concern 30 years later as it became apparent this unique cultural location was literally crumbling to pieces.
To encourage the rehabitation of the area, a new law was passed in the mid eighties allowing private ownership of the old buildings on 99 year leases. This is still in place.
Today, the Sassi are a symbol for the city and even a symbol for the rest of Europe.
They remind us all of how European urban culture used to be - sustainable and identifiable.
As the name suggests this dish should be eaten on Easter Day. More specifically in the morning.
An omelette in Italian is called a 'frittata'.
500gr asparagus points, 200gr fresh sausage, 30 eggs, 200gr cheese, salt, extra virgin olive oil, pizza bianca.