A Travel Guide to Basilicata, Italy
Basilicata is a region of Italy located southeast of Naples that comprises the provinces of Matera, and Potenza – the capital.
Even though it is mainly inland it touches two stretches of sea: the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian Sea. The temperatures from May through to September are pleasant with the warmest being July and August in the mid 20’s °C.
The Tyrrhenian coastline lies on the town of Maratea that sits astride Monte San Biagio. A 22m high statue of Christ the Redeemer stands atop its highest point with its arms outstretched and behind the Messiah is a beautiful scenic overlook of the sanded coast and coves. Look for the beaches of Acquafreddo and Fiumicello which have both been awarded the Blue Flag – the European award for eco-friendly beaches with the highest level of cleanliness. Dug into the rock that Maratea stands above are the houses known as the Sassi which were created by Palaeolithic shepherds to protect their livestock and family. These are recognised by UNESCO World Heritage and enjoy many visitors annually from all over the world. There is also a port and harbour that is home to many yachts in Maratea where visitors can take some lessons in diving or charter a boat to take them on a coastal tour.
The 19 mile coastline of the Ionian Sea forms the almost rectangular Gulf of Taranto. The part that falls into the region of Basilicata is historically influenced by the culture of the Magna Graecia – Greeks who settled there many hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. Seek out the Archaeological Park of Metaponto that preserves many of this ancient culture’s monuments that include temples amongst others. Metaponto and nearby Policoro are also popular seaside resorts and include many white sanded beaches with pinewood and eucalyptus trees whose scents fuse with the salted sea air. The water is also very clean there, so clean that it actually attracts sea turtles that choose to breed there. There is also a World Wildlife Centre that protects the sea turtles and that also hosts a nature museum. There are also many dolphins that frequent the sea and the marina in Policoro, alike some of the beaches at Maratea, it has also been awarded the Blue Flag.
Besides the sea, inland there are mountains adorned with trees that gather as woods or amass as forests. Potenza is the highest regional capital that overlooks the Basento valley. There are also the beautiful lakes of Monticchio with its waters of Lake Grande and Piccolo covering the craters of the extinct Mount Vulture. So besides swimming, sailing, diving and saltwater fishing in the coastal area, there are also the inland activities of hiking, biking and horseback riding, canoeing on the lakes and freshwater fishing. There are also two 18-hole championship golf courses located near Metaponto.
There is a wide variety of self catering holiday accommodation in Basilicata ranging from apartments overlooking the coasts of either of the two seas to villas set amidst olive groves and quaint cottages in rural settings.