Basilicata, Italy

Basilicata is a region in southern Italy. It is also often called Lucania, the name of an ancient region of pre-Roman origin which included a large part of the territory of today's Basilicata, as well as having been its official denomination in the Fascist era. Its inhabitants are called Lucanians, although the denomination of Basilicatesi is also, to a lesser extent, widespread, typically used in the past centuries by some local scholars. The toponym Basilicata is attested for the first time around the tenth century. The origin of this name is often associated with the Greek term Basilikos, the name by which the Byzantine rulers of the Region were called. Basilikos in Greek means "official of the king" and derives from another Greek word: Basileus (King). A more accredited thesis, makes the name derive from the Basilica of Acerenza, whose bishop had jurisdiction over the entire territory. This name appears for the first time in the Catalog of Norman barons of 1154. Another hypothesis, less accredited, is that the origin of the name is linked to that of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II Bulgaroctono. Over the centuries, the region has continued to maintain both names, despite the regional statute exclusively identifying the inhabitants with the denomination of Lucans.


Geographic hints

Basilicata has an extension of approximately 10,073 km²; it borders Puglia to the north and east, Campania to the north and west, and Calabria to the south. The territory is mainly mountainous and hilly, only a very small percentage (8%) is flat. Despite being washed by two seas, the coastal stretches have a limited area. The climate varies depending on the area: mountainous with harsh winters and temperate summers in the innermost areas, Mediterranean with mild winters and hot summers in areas near the sea.


When to go

The region offers picturesque landscapes (Dolomiti Lucane, Pollino, Vulture) which can be visited all year round. Summer tourism is concentrated in Maratea (called the "pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea") on the Tyrrhenian coast, and the towns of Metapontino on the Ionian coast. The centers of greatest historical and cultural interest are Melfi, Venosa, Matera, Policoro and Metaponto.


Spoken languages

Alongside the Italian language, there is a bilingual Arbëreshë minority who speak ancient Albanian. The dialect is very widespread, often more used than Italian itself. The Lucan dialect takes on different connotations depending on the area. The Vulture has some similarities with the Irpinia and Foggia dialects, the Materano with the Bari and Taranto dialects, the Pollino (in some municipalities) with the Cosenza dialect. In the area of Potentino and the Gulf of Policastro the dialect has a Gallo-Italic influence, with some lexical characteristics similar to the northern dialects.


Culture and traditions

«Many Lucanians go around the world, but nobody sees them, they are not exhibitionists. The Lucan, more than any other people, live well in the shade.
(Leonardo Sinisgalli)

Unlike the inhabitants of other southern regions, who tend to be more casual and outgoing, the Lucanians are mostly thoughtful people, capable of socializing without being overly confidential. They often turn out to be very discreet and don't like being the center of attention, especially outside the regional borders. However, they do not disdain physical contact, with handshakes, pats on the back and kisses on the cheeks as a sign of esteem. Perhaps precisely because of excessive discretion, the Lucanians are one of the least considered populations in the country and, not infrequently, they are confused with inhabitants of other southern regions, especially Campania and Puglia.

Although it is possible to address the most disparate topics with the local people, who are rarely parochial and jealous of their culture, a delicate subject that could arouse heated discussions is oil, of which the region is very rich, considered by a very large part of Lucanians a serious environmental threat rather than a source of income.

The most common traditions in Basilicata are those linked to the Catholic religion, arboreal cult and brigandage. Until a few decades ago, magical rites were still practiced, which were the subject of study by the anthropologist Ernesto De Martino, as well as inspiring films and documentaries such as Il demonio by Brunello Rondi and Magia lucana by Luigi Di Gianni.


Territories and tourist destinations

Due to obsolete connections, the absence of major communication routes and a well-organized tourist promotion, Basilicata is one of the most unknown and least visited regions of Italy. The proclamation of Matera European Capital of Culture 2019 has ushered in an era of concrete tourism development that seems to be bearing fruit; in fact, Basilicata has acquired an excellent reputation in terms of accommodation, just think of the awards obtained at the TTG Travel Experience in Rimini and the surveys carried out by Demoskopika in recent years.

Potentino - The territory of the city of Potenza extends in the western part of the region up to the short stretch of Tyrrhenian coast on the Gulf of Policastro and to Monte Pollino which marks the border with Calabria.
Val Basento — The Basento, the longest river in Basilicata, has its sources in Monte Arioso just north of the capital. Its upper course has thick woods. The vegetation becomes sparser in the stretch that affects the territory of Matera up to the extremely barren landscapes that accompany its lower course. The inhabited centers are perched high up and none lie on the valley floor. Among these Bernalda deserves a mention for its urban layout wanted and studied with the utmost care in 1492 by the secretary of King Alfonso II of Aragon,
Lucanian Dolomites — The Lucanian Dolomites are reliefs heavily eroded by atmospheric agents with fancifully shaped spiers that recall the Triveneto Dolomites. The forest of Gallipoli Cognato, set up as a natural park, extends at an altitude of about 1,300 m between the deep gorges dug by the Rio di Caperrino, a tributary of the Basento and is mainly made up of deciduous woods. The park offices are located in the small center of Accettura. Other inhabited centers of the Lucanian Dolomites are Pietrapertosa, among suggestive rocky landscapes and Castelmezzano, listed in 2007 by the magazine "Budget Travel" among the best places in the world not yet affected by mass tourism.

Vulture - The Vulture is the northern territory of Basilicata wedged between Campania and Puglia. It takes its name from the homonymous mountain (1326 m), a now extinct volcano. Venosa, counted among "The most beautiful villages in Italy" has an interesting artistic heritage as does Melfi, linked to the memory of Guglielmo I d'Altavilla, who in 1042 stole it from the Byzantines, electing it as his residence. The small town of Monticchio is a holiday resort thanks to its idyllic surroundings marked by a pair of small lakes of volcanic origin at the foot of Mount Vulture.

Val d'Agri — A plateau starting from 600 m a.s.l. and follows the course of the Agri river up to its mouth in the gulf of Taranto. Part of the valley falls within the territory of the Lucano-Val d'Agri-Lagonegrese Apennine National Park which embraces a large part of the Lucanian Apennine up to the Sirino massif where there are ski resorts. In the valley are the ruins of Grumentum, a Roman city abandoned in the eighth century AD by its inhabitants following the continuous incursions of Saracen pirates. The excavated material is kept in the National Museum of the Alta Val d'Agri set up in the nearby center of Grumento Nova. Among the other towns in the park, Brienza should be mentioned at the confluence of the Val d'Agri with that of the Melandro and surrounded by centuries-old chestnut and oak woods, Castelsaraceno, perched on the slopes of Mount Raparolo at an altitude of 900 m. a.s.l., Lagonegro at the foot of Monte Sirino and near the idyllic lake Laudemio, the southernmost lake of glacial origin in Europe, Satriano, seat of the Basilicata pepper academy, rich in murals and influenced by the banks of the Melandro river, the all set in the national park of the Lucanian Apennines.

Basilicata coast on the Tyrrhenian Sea — Basilicata overlooks the gulf of Policastro for a short stretch which opens onto the Tyrrhenian Sea and corresponds to the territory of the municipality of Maratea located high up in a panoramic position over the gulf. Seaside resorts on this particularly high and steep stretch of coast are Marina di Maratea, Acquafredda, Castrocucco, located on the coastal plain created by the Noce river on the border with Calabria, Fiumicello and Porto, with a small mooring.
About 12 kilometers away from Maratea we have Trecchina, a small village located 500 m above sea level, halfway between the sea and the mountains. Characteristic of Trecchina are the Piazza del Popolo adorned with lush trees and well-kept gardens and the medieval village called Castello.

Pollino Massif — The village of Rotonda is located in the heart of the park and is home to the administrative offices. A paleontological and naturalistic museum has also been set up where the remains of an Elephas antiquus italicus and a Hippopotamus antiquus are exhibited. The surroundings of San Severino Lucano, a village at 877 m a.s.l. they are characterized by thick woods with a rich fauna and interspersed with luxuriant streams the main one of which is the Frido. Other towns on the northern side of the Pollino are Castelluccio Superiore and Viggianello. Latronico has a thermal establishment.

Materano - The territory of the city of Matera occupies the eastern part of Basilicata and consists of two different parts: a hilly area, a natural continuation of the Apulian Murgia and a flat area on the Gulf of Taranto shown below. The city of Matera is renowned worldwide for its "stones" The park of the Murgia Materana was established in 1990 to protect the "stones of Matera and the numerous rock churches scattered throughout its territory, (about 150) founded by religious orders both of Orthodox and Catholic rite.Other centers of interest are Tricarico with a very well preserved medieval historical centre, Miglionico dominated by the castle of Malconsiglio where in 1485 the conspiracy of the barons against King Ferdinand I of Naples was hatched and the center of Montescaglioso with a large Benedictine abbey dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo.

Metapontino - The flat area overlooking the Gulf of Taranto. It is characterized by a sandy coast close to which there are vast pine forests. The Bosco Pantano di Policoro is a WWF oasis. Also near the modern village of Policoro is the site of Eraclea, a city of Lucanian Magna Grecia and the National Archaeological Museum of Siritide where finds and excavation material are kept ranging from the Neolithic to the Roman age, Tursi was an important center during the Byzantine reconquest of the tenth century and in 968 it was the capital of the theme of Lucania. Metaponto was another important city of Magna Graecia where the philosopher Pythagoras lived until his death in 490 BC. Today Metaponto is an important seaside resort.








How to get

By plane
Bari-Palese airport is connected to Matera (64 km) by shuttle buses of the regional bus consortium COTRAB and other private (more expensive) ones. The Liscio bus lines of the regional consortium operate a direct connection between Naples Capodichino airport and Potenza (170 km covered in about two hours)

On boat
The towns of Maratea, Pisticci and Policoro have tourist ports with facilities for mooring private boats.

The port of Maratea, located in the hamlet of the same name, is a popular landing place in the Mediterranean. It is one of the best equipped and most beautiful marinas in Southern Italy. In a strategic position in the Gulf of Policastro, it can contain over 500 boats, and is equipped with various services.

On the train
Basilicata is served by the Frecciarossa trains of Trenitalia, which come from Salerno and stop in Potenza, Metaponto and Ferrandina.

The State Railways also make regional and inter-regional trains available to cover the Foggia-Potenza or Salerno-Potenza sections.

On the Naples-Reggio Calabria line there are three stations in the municipality of Maratea: the central station, that of Acquafredda and that of Marina. For the timetables of trains arriving and departing from Maratea, see the Rete Ferroviaria Italiana website.

There is also a narrow-gauge railway from Bari to Matera and Potenza with trains of the Ferrovie Appulo Lucane (FAL).

By bus
The State Railways sometimes offer a replacement bus transport service for the Foggia-Potenza or Salerno-Potenza sections.

The FAL railways also run a (much faster) bus service for connections between Bari, Matera and Potenza.


Getting around

By car
There are few taxis in the region. The connecting roads are quite winding due to the mountainous nature of the region.

On the train
Those who don't have a car use the regional trains.


What to see

Prehistory — the Neolithic necropolis of Serra d'Alto near Matera has yielded a lot of material, especially ceramics with geometric figures or stylized representations of animals. The finds are exhibited in the Domenico Ridola National Archaeological Museum in Matera.
Greco-Roman Period — The archaeological site of Metaponto, a colony founded by the Achaeans, is the most important in Basilicata. The finds are kept in a museum annexed to the archaeological park. In the nearby town of Pisticci numerous Attic-style ceramics were found produced by a single artist who lived in the second half of the 5th century BC and is referred to as the "Pittore di Pisticci". Unfortunately, the collection of precious vases has been dispersed in the major museums of the world (Louvre, British Museum, Metropolitan museum in New York, Vatican Museums, etc). The National Archaeological Museum of Melfese set up in the famous castle of Melfi exhibits pieces from the Roman era. Among these stands out the Sarcophagus of Rapolla dating back to the 2nd century AD. and found in the mid-nineteenth century.
Early Middle Ages (Byzantine and Longobard domination) — The complex of the Santissima Trinità in Venosa still reveals the paleo-Christian layout of the 5th - 6th century AD. The monks of the Eastern rite who flocked to Basilicata after the reconquest of Justinian found the ideal conditions in the karst landscapes of Matera to lead the life of anchorites. Another place of choice for oriental monasticism was the lower Agri valley where the ruins of the abbey of Sant'Angelo al Monte Raparo dating back to the 10th century are located. They were replaced by the Benedictines who definitively abandoned the abbey at the beginning of the 19th century. 700. The restorations were started in 1980 and also involved the frescoes that are visible again today. The abbey is situated in a suggestive position at the entrance to a huge karst cave which opens at the foot of Monte Raparo, about 10 km from the town of San Chirico Raparo
Norman and Swabian domination — Normans and Swabians built numerous castles in the land of Basilicata, even if many of these fortresses are now in ruins. The best known example is the Castle of Melfi, one of the most important in the South. Other castles that have come down to us in very good condition are the Castle of Lagopesole, with an even more imposing appearance than the previous one, which was the favorite residence of Manfredi, son of Frederick II; the Castle of Valsinni, where the famous and unfortunate poetess Isabella di Morra lived; and the Castle of Miglionico (better known as Castello del Malconsiglio), where the conspiracy of the barons was organised, an event which marked the Aragonese domination in the Kingdom of Naples. The imposing Norman Tower of Tricarico which was the male of the castle built in the century. XI, at the behest of Roberto il Guiscardo transformed in 1333 into a monastery of the Poor Clares, it is 27 meters high, with walls that are even more than 5 meters thick, decorated with corbels and crowning arches, it stands practically intact on the medieval historic center. Among the examples of Romanesque architecture should be mentioned the cathedral of Matera. Of primary importance is also the historic Torre di Satriano, built by the Normans on the tip of a mountain halfway between the current Tito and Satriano.
Angevin and Aragonese period — Gothic finds expression in the frescoes of some rock churches of Melfi, in particular that of S. Margherita. Examples of Renaissance architecture are the convent of Sant'Antonio in Rivello and the Benedictine abbey of San Michele Arcangelo near Montescaglioso. Majestic is the Aragonese Castle of Venosa, which welcomed princes, patrons, intellectuals and artists in the Renaissance period.
XVII and XVIII centuries — Palazzo Lanfranchi in Matera (1668-1672), church of San Francesco also in Matera. Another very important building of the period is the convent with annexed church of the Madonna del Carmine in Tricarico. The complex was built in 1605 on a previous and older building. The church, with a single nave, is embellished by the most extensive cycle of frescoes by Pietro Antonio Ferro which cover the walls and the vault of the presbytery. Although of Norman origin, the Bishop's Palace of Melfi today has a purely Baroque layout, due to continuous restorations due to earthquakes that seriously damaged the original structure.


Events and parties

The night of the bonfires (Feast of Sant'Antonio abate) Trivigno, 15-16 January.
Carnival of Tricarico
Carnival of Satriano
The Bonfires of S. Valentino (Patronal feast of Saint Valentine) Abriola 14 February and 14 August
The parade of the Turks Potenza, 29 May
San Gerardo Maiella Muro Lucano International Poetry Prize, 1 January - 31 March
Regional Feast of San Gerardo Maiella Muro Lucano, 2 September
Feast of the Madonna della Bruna (patronal feast) Matera, 2 July
La Storia Bandita - the largest cine-show in Italy, dedicated to the Lucan brigandage, Brindisi Montagna, August - September
Agglutination Metal Festival, international event of heavy metal music, Chiaromonte, August


What to do

In Sasso di Castalda you can experience the thrill of the void by tackling Tibetan bridges with harnesses and helmets. Same thing in Castelsaraceno where the longest Tibetan bridge in the world was built.



Lucanian cuisine is based on simplicity, mirroring a region where age-old poverty drove farm workers to nutritious meals that were simple and quick to prepare, with cheap ingredients. It is distinguished by the extensive use of breadcrumbs, which in the past served as the "cheese of the poor", and of spices such as chilli pepper and horseradish (known as the "truffle of the poor"). The symbol of regional cuisine is the crusco pepper, a dried pepper with a delicate flavor called the "red gold" of Basilicata, which is used in numerous preparations in Basilicata. Given the limited access to the sea, fish is rarely used. Of excellent quality are cured meats, cheeses, vegetables, legumes, oil and bread.

Some examples of regional dishes are:
pasta with cruschi peppers - first course with cruschi peppers, fried breadcrumbs and (optional) flaked aged cheese.
tumact me tulez - tagliatelle with anchovy sauce, breadcrumbs and walnuts
cod a ciauredda - fish dish with tomato puree, onion, black olives and raisins
rafanata - omelette with horseradish and pecorino, cooked on the grill or in the oven; it is possible to add boiled potatoes or soppressata
gnummareddi - lamb or goat offal wrapped in the same innards, generally cooked on the grill
grattonato - pork tripe with egg, cheese and bran pepper powder
acquasale - stale bread with egg, tomato and bran pepper
pastizz - ancient calzone with a filling of pork, cheese and egg
glazed taralli - also called anginetti, donut-shaped biscuits, with icing of sugar, aniseed or wild fennel.
calzoncelli - also known as panzerotti, sweet fried or baked ravioli filled with almond paste and chocolate
zests - sweets prepared with egg whites, hazelnuts and melted chocolate

Among the quality products are worth noting:
Senise pepper IGP
Lucanica di Picerno PGI
Pecorino di Filiano PDO
Canestrato of Moliterno PGI
PGI Matera bread
"Vulture" DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Rotonda DOP red aubergine
Orange Staccia di Tursi and Montalbano Jonico DOP
Sarconi PGI bean
Rotonda PDO white bean



Aglianico del Vulture, a red of ancient tradition is the most famous of the Lucanian wines, it is not for nothing that Aglianico del Vulture Superiore is the only regional DOCG wine. Less known but not of inferior quality are the DOC Terre dell'Alta Val d'Agri, Matera and Grottino di Roccanova wines. Well known is Amaro Lucano; other drinks are Birra Morena, Gassosa Avena and Semper Freddo, a sweet liqueur with Aglianico flavored with black cherry.

The mineral waters of Basilicata, known for their natural effervescence, are among the most renowned at a national level, to the point of attracting investments from giants such as Coca Cola, Norda and San Benedetto which control their production through some local companies.



Basilicata has a low crime rate, especially when compared to that of the neighboring regions, and the two provinces Potenza and Matera often appear at the top of the rankings regarding the safest Italian cities.


Physical geography


The territory of Basilicata is mainly mountainous (47%) and hilly (45%) with a small flat percentage (8%). It has only one large plain: the Piana di Metaponto. The massifs of Pollino (Monte Pollino - 2,248 m) and Sirino (Monte Papa - 2,005 m), Monte Alpi (1,900 m), Monte Raparo (1,764 m) and the mountain range of Maddalena (Monte Volturino, 1,835 m) they constitute the major reliefs of the Lucanian Apennines.

In the north-western area of the region there is a non-active volcano, Mount Vulture. The hills make up 45.13% of the territory and are of the clayey type, subject to erosion phenomena which give rise to landslides. The plains occupy 8% of the territory. The largest is the plain of Metaponto which occupies the southern part of the region, along the Ionian coast.

The Lucanian rivers are torrential in nature and are the Bradano, the Basento, the Agri, the Sinni, the Cavone, the Noce and the Ofanto on the border with Puglia and Campania. Furthermore, there are streams of considerable importance in the region, including the Sauro stream which flows into Agri and the Gravina di Matera and Picciano streams into the Bradano river. Among the lakes, those of Monticchio have volcanic origins, while those of Pietra del Pertusillo, San Giuliano, Monte Cotugno and Gannano were built artificially for drinking and irrigation purposes. Lake Camastra is also artificial, the waters of which are made potable. The coasts of the Ionian coast are low and sandy while those of the Tyrrhenian coast are high and rocky (Gulf of Policastro).

Basilicata has a great environmental diversity and is divided into six different sub-zones:
Vulture-Melfese to the north-east with characteristics of plateaus mostly sown with wheat, while in the Vulture area we have alternating woods and vines;
Potentino/Lucan Dolomites to the north-west with a prevalence of woods and mountains with an average height of 1,200-1,500 metres;
Pollino massif/Monte Sirino to the south-west, which represent the real Lucan mountains with altitudes even higher than 2,000 meters and a strong presence of forests and woods;
Val d'Agri in the centre-west, a plateau starting from 600 m a.s.l. and follows the course of the Agri river until it converges in the plain of Metaponto;
Matera hill in the centre-east which presents hills and high hills with a large presence of barren clays and gullies;
Metapontino to the south-southeast which is a vast alluvial plain where intensive industrial agriculture is practiced and a type of low and sandy coast.
These diversities are expressed both at the faunal level, at the floristic one and finally at the climatic one.



The whole area of Basilicata is considered to be at moderate or high seismic risk, especially in the hinterland and the reliefs of the Lucanian Apennines, both to the north towards the border with Campania and to the south towards the border with Calabria. Relatively lower is the seismic risk on the coasts and in the flat areas. The most serious earthquake ever recorded in Basilicata, as well as one of the most serious in the history of the peninsula, occurred in 1857, with its epicenter in Montemurro, which caused about 11,000 victims.



The climate of Basilicata changes from area to area; in fact a relevant characteristic is that the Region is exposed to two seas. The eastern part of the region (not having the protection of the Apennine chain) is influenced by the Adriatic Sea, to which must be added the orography of the territory and the irregular altitude of the mountains. But despite the diversity, the region's climate can be described as continental, with Mediterranean characteristics only in the coastal areas. In fact, if you go a few kilometers inland, especially in winter, the mildness is immediately replaced by a harsh and humid climate.

It has four climatic areas respectively divided as follows:
Ionian plain of Metapontino, where mild and rainy winters alternate with hot and dry, but quite windy, summers.
Tyrrhenian coast. Here the same affinities with the climate of the Ionian area are found, with the only difference that in winter the temperature is slightly higher and in summer it is slightly cooler and the humidity is very accentuated.
Matera hill, where the Mediterranean climatic characteristics are considerably attenuated going inland: already starting from 300-400 meters the winters become cold and foggy, and snow can appear several times a year from November to late March . Here, too, summers are hot and dry, with fairly high daily temperature ranges.
Apennine mountain, which corresponds to almost half of the regional territory. Here the winters are very cold, with temperatures that can even reach -15 °C, especially above 1,000 meters of altitude, where the snow on the ground remains until mid-spring, but it can remain until the end of May on the higher hills . In Potenza, the regional capital located at 819 meters above sea level, winter can be very snowy, and temperatures can even drop many degrees below zero, making it one of the coldest cities in Italy. Summers are moderately hot, although night temperatures can be very cool. The most frequent winds come mainly from the western and southern quadrants.



Protected areas

The Basilicata region hosts eleven protected areas in its territory, of which two are national parks and two are regional:
the Pollino, divided between Basilicata and Calabria; the largest national park in Italy, included in the list of UNESCO world geoparks
the Val d'Agri
two regional parks (Gallipoli Cognato Natural Park - Small Lucanian Dolomites and Natural History Archaeological Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera)
seven regional nature reserves

The protected areas occupy about 30% of the entire regional surface.



The north of the region alternates large clearings with sporadic hazelnut, hawthorn and wild rose plants with bare agricultural areas and woods which are essentially made up of chestnut, Turkey oak, English oak and southern oak trees, the presence of the local linden of the southern subspecies is very rare and beech, accompanied by more Mediterranean tree and shrub species such as downy oak, field maple, lesser maple, Neapolitan maple, holly, wild pear, oriental hornbeam, white hornbeam, black poplar, white poplar, various species of willows, which alternate depending on the favorable altitude only above 600/700 meters as on Vulture. Biodiversity is complex in the Lucanian Apennines and in the Val d'Agri as the area goes from 300 to 2000 meters above sea level showing ecological heterogeneity. The mountain phytoclimatic belt which is located from 1,000 to 1,800 m is the one in which the beech woods of Monti Maruggio, Arioso and Pierfaone fall, also present Aceri: Acero di Lobel, Acer Opalus and Acero Campestre as well as Carpinella.

In the area of the Rifreddo wood, on the other hand, beech prevails and, at lower altitudes, forests of Turkey oak, Italian oak and southern oak. Heliophilous woods are not rare where you can admire the oriental hornbeam, hop hornbeam, hazelnut and the opal maple subspecies neapolitanum. Among the herbaceous plants, the following are typically present in the Apennine areas and in the valleys: Veronica officinalis, Anemone apennina, Scilla bifolia, Atropa belladonna and Allium ursinum, in the fresher and more fertile valleys they appear in extensive vegetable beds together with Sambucus nigra and Galantus nivalis. Going below 1000 meters, the common broom continues to be frequent, as in the whole region. In addition to the forest and undergrowth typical of the Apennines, the Pollino area has sandy and rocky bottoms, where there is low and sparse vegetation called "gariga", made up of species, sometimes aromatic, such as cistus, thyme and germander arboreal; in other cases the "Mediterranean steppe" predominates with perennial grasses with some specimens of juniper up to 900 m above sea level, thanks to microclimatic conditions determined by the rock's ability to accumulate heat.

The most representative endemic species are the Neapolitan alder and the Loricato pine, emblem of the Pollino Park, which towers impressively, up to 2200 meters, in groups or isolated. The bark recalls the lorica of Roman soldiers, hence the name, used in the past for the construction of furniture and boats. The loricate pine is, today, a protected species. The following are found in the area along the grasslands: mountain yarrow, major gentian, mountain asphodel, wild narcissus, major saffron, woolly buttercup, and various species of Orchidaceae such as Orchis mascula and Dactiylorhiza latiifoglia. Sea fennel is widespread in the marine area of the coast of Maratea, there are also Salerno limonium and on the beaches some specimens of the yellow sand poppy, also known as horned poppy. Further up: the cornflower of the cliffs, the rupicolous carnation, the maritime cineraria and the Neapolitan bellflower. Exclusive to the area of the Gulf of Policastro is the rare Primula palinuri, this protected species of ancient origins is paleoendemic and has survived several geological eras. The landscape is dominated by trimmings and euphorbia. In the Matera area, the flora is slightly more homogeneous in the Murgia area, where there are about 36 endemic species and 60 rare ones. Woods are sporadic in the Matera area, but there are typically Mediterranean species of trees and shrubs such as: downy oak, fragno , thorny oak in the calliprinos variety, carob and holm oak, juniper, mastic, broom, and species of the "gariga" such as cistus, butcher's broom, thorny thyme, ferula and asphodel. There are numerous flowers such as the meadow widow, the Apulian bellflower, the Ionian rock rose, the bindweed, Tommasini flax, Thomas saffron and the ofris matheolana, a small and rare endemic orchid. Typical of the gullies area, arid and clayey bare, is the alimo, a species suitable for desertified environments.


Origin of the names of the region

The toponym Basilicata is attested for the first time around the 10th century: the origin of this name has various hypotheses:
the term Basilikos in Greek means "official of the king" and derives from the Greek word Basileus, denomination of the monarch and therefore of the Byzantine emperors called precisely Basileus and Basilissa dei Romei (King and Queen of the Romans); however it seems that Byzantine officials called Basilici never existed employed by the emperors, in fact the subdivisions of the kingdom called thema were districts governed by generals, and the civil-military province in question was called Lucania also in the Byzantine era. The chronology of the sources shows that the term is found for the first time in the Catalog of Norman barons of 1154, therefore it would indicate a posteriori a dependency of the region of the Eastern Roman Empire, given that this was already occupied by the Normans since 1150.
another thesis makes the name derive from the basilica of Acerenza, whose bishop had jurisdiction over the entire territory. This name appears for the first time in the Catalog of Norman barons of 1154.

Lucania (together with the ethnonym Lucani) instead has different philological roots:
the first is «leucos», a Greek word, transmitted to the Latin meaning: «white», «glossy», in fact a legend has it that the name was given by a people heading south, once they arrived in a land from which they could see the Sun rose, and that the name Lucania therefore indicated "Land of Light";
possible is the origin from «lucus», that is "sacred wood";
the hypothesis of origin from the Greek «lycos», i.e. "wolf" is also accredited; if this were the case, the etymology would be completely similar to that of the Hirpini tribe (located immediately north of the Lucanians), whose ethnonym derives from the Oscan «hirpos» which also meant "wolf"

Although the regional statute provides exclusively for the use of the word Lucan to identify its inhabitants, there is also a certain diffusion of the Basilicata ethnicity, especially between the 19th and early 20th centuries. Local scholars such as Giustino Fortunato, Giacomo Racioppi, Tommaso Claps and Giuseppe Gattini, as well as other scholars such as Benedetto Croce and Angelo De Gubernatis resorted to the use of the term. It was Racioppi who proposed its use together with basilicaioti and basilicani, although the latter never found space in the common language. The appellation basilisk is rarer, mentioned in Wolfgang Schweickard's Deonomasticon Italicum (which lists other variants such as basilicatense and basilicatino, in addition to the aforementioned basilicatese) which circulated in the first decades of the 1900s, sometimes with a negative meaning, above all by the press and political opponents against personalities such as Francesco Ciccotti, rival and former colleague of Mussolini at the time of the Socialist Party, and Francesco Saverio Nitti, in office as prime minister of the Italian kingdom.

The question of the territorial denomination was already debated in the early 19th century. In 1820, the proposal was made in the parliament of the Two Sicilies to rename the provinces of Basilicata and Principato Citra (whose territories roughly corresponded to ancient Lucania), with the appellations of Eastern Lucania and Western Lucania. The debate intensified after the unification of Italy. Michele Lacava was one of the major promoters of the restoration of Lucania which he considered "splendid and national", as opposed to Basilicata which he considered "foreign and obscure", coming into conflict with Racioppi who defended the current name. Lacava considered Basilicata a name imposed «in honor of Basil II, Byzantine emperor, ferocious despot and hypocrite» and reported how Lucania was still alive in the memory of the inhabitants after centuries. Fortunato, a staunch supporter of the toponym Basilicata, considered Lucania a memory of the past, noting how the borders of the two regions were different and had this to say: «born Basilicatese, Basilicatese - and not Lucan - I hope to die». During the Fascist period, the regional territory resumed the name Lucania, but with the birth of the Republic it returned to being called Basilicata. Carlo Levi, who stayed there in the Fascist and Republican eras, testified that the peasants with whom he had contacts mostly favored the name Lucania and were more inclined to introduce themselves as Lucanians. The debate over the identification of the region and residents still persists.


Historical region of Lucania

Ancient Lucania was much larger than today's Basilicata; in addition to this, in fact, it included vast territories belonging today to two other regions: Campania (Cilento and Vallo di Diano in the Salerno area) and Calabria (it reached Sibari, Turi, and the Lao river, in the Cosentino area). However, it did not include the lands east of the Bradano river, therefore Matera itself, but also the northernmost area of Vulture, whose main city was Venusia, at the time of the Dauni. These geographical borders reflect the situation following the split between the Bruttii (ancient inhabitants of Calabria) and the Lucani which took place in 356 BC. with the border between the two regions in the isthmus between Turi and Cirella (Little Lucania). Before this date, sources from the 5th century onwards referred to a vast area, conventionally called by the moderns Grande Lucania, which extended as far as the Strait of Messina and was inhabited by people of Samnite stock. The aforementioned north-eastern borders of Lucania were then maintained in the establishment of the Augustan regions, which took place around 7 AD: the lands of the Lucanians (on this side of the Bradano) became part of the Regio III Lucania et Bruttii, while Matera and the Vultures of Regio II Apulia and Calabria.



From prehistory to the Middle Ages

In prehistory, the first human settlements date back to the lower Paleolithic and Mesolithic shelters. From the 5th millennium BC settlements in fortified villages spread, and a local indigenous culture existed in the Iron Age. From the 8th century BC. the Greek colony of Siris (of Micro-Asian motherland) was founded and around 630 BC. that of Metaponto, of Achaean colonization, completing the occupation of the Ionian coast, while in the interior the indigenous communities continue to flourish. The first contacts of the Romans with the Lucanians took place with a temporary anti-Samnite alliance around 330 BC. After the conquest of Taranto in 272 BC, Roman rule extended to the whole region. The Via Appia was extended up to Brindisi and the colonies of Potentia (Potenza) and Grumentum were founded.

At the end of the 5th century Lucania was already widely Christianized and after the fall of the Roman Empire it remained in Byzantine possession until the Lombard conquest in 568, becoming part of the Duchy of Benevento. In 968, after the Byzantine conquest, the theme of Lucania was established, with its capital Tursikon (now Tursi). With the arrival of the Normans, the theme disappeared favoring the birth of the duchy of Puglia and Calabria, of which Melfi (formerly the seat of the County of Puglia) was initially the capital. With the Constitutions of Melfi, promulgated by Frederick II of Swabia, the execution of Basilicata was born in 1231. The borders of the executioner almost completely coincided with today's region, with the exclusion of Matera (which will enter in 1663) and some areas of Melandro, Val d'Agri and Metapontino. Under Angevin domination, Basilicata went through a profound demographic crisis but in the second half of the fifteenth century there was a certain recovery, also due to the arrival of Greek-Albanian exiles from the Balkan regions of the Byzantine Empire after the fall of Constantinople.


Modern and Bourbon age

Between the 15th and 16th centuries, Basilicata was the scene of conflicts between France and Spain: Miglionico hosted the conspiracy of the barons against Ferrante of Aragon, in Rionero the generals Louis d'Armagnac and Consalvo Fernandez of Cordova met in vain peaceful partition of the Kingdom of Naples, and Melfi suffered a heavy siege by the French army. Under the Spanish viceroyalty, it was largely subjected to the jurisdiction of the Principality of Citra but in 1642 it obtained institutional autonomy, assigning the first seat of the Royal Audience of Basilicata to Stigliano. When Masaniello's revolt broke out in Naples in 1647, a popular uprising led by Matteo Cristiano and Francesco Salazar involved the whole region, which adhered to the Republic, but the revolt was quickly repressed. In 1663 a new province was created for Basilicata, to ensure greater control, with the capital in Matera, until then part of the Terra d'Otranto.

In 1735, Basilicata passed under the dominion of the Bourbons of Naples. In the wake of the events of 1799, Avigliano, even before Naples, planted the tree of liberty and proclaimed the Neapolitan Republic; from there the revolts spread throughout the region, but the revolution was stifled by the Sanfedist army of Cardinal Ruffo, subjugating the cities of Potenza, Melfi, Tito and Picerno.

The French returned seven years later, despite the resistance of the population (which, in large part, manifested loyalty to the Bourbon crown), placing cities such as Lauria, Maratea and Viggiano under siege. The French reorganized the administrative structure and moved the seat of the then province of Basilicata from Matera to Potenza. Charles Antoine Manhès, setting his headquarters in Potenza, carried out a very violent but effective repression against the brigandage that was raging in the Basilicata and Calabrian countryside. With the return of the Bourbons, in 1848 the radical forces attempted, unsuccessfully, to set up a provisional government in Potenza, after Ferdinand II had withdrawn the liberal constitution, a few months after its promulgation.


Unification of Italy and brigandage

In August 1860, Basilicata was the first mainland province of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to declare its annexation to the nascent unitary state, while Garibaldi was still in Sicily. Once Bourbon authority fell, Garibaldi's army arrived in Basilicata without encountering any difficulties, touching the towns of Rotonda, Maratea and Lagonegro. The expedition was joined by about three thousand volunteers from the "Cacciatori Lucani" brigade, which followed Garibaldi until its disbandment in November of the same year.

After the annexation, however, Basilicata, afflicted by remote poverty and, at the time, the most backward and isolated province of the Bourbon kingdom, saw its hopes of social change thwarted: the failure to promise a redistribution of state property, the quo maintained by the ruling class and the incomprehension of the royal government, generated the discontent of the popular class, which resulted in an armed revolt. Banditry, an endemic phenomenon of the South of which the Bourbon monarchy made use of whenever its kingdom was threatened by foreign powers, at the dawn of the unification of Italy assumed the characteristics of a real civil war which involved the provinces of the 'former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies for about ten years, causing thousands of deaths among rioters and troops of the royal army. Basilicata was the province with the largest number of gangs, of which there were 47 in total. The most well-known, headed by Carmine Crocco, made the Vulture their base of operations.

Once banditry was defeated, Basilicata, like all of Italy at the time, began to suffer the scourge of emigration; a phenomenon that still afflicts the region. Between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, southernism began to emerge, a political-cultural movement in favor of the South which among its exponents included Lucan personalities such as Giustino Fortunato, Francesco Saverio Nitti, Ettore Ciccotti and Raffaele Ciasca. Thanks to the commitment of the southerners, Basilicata experienced a slight but fundamental development, with the construction of schools, communication routes, aqueducts, and policies of reclamation and pharmacological treatment.


Contemporary history

Under fascism, Basilicata (which was renamed to Lucania) became a land of confinement for opponents since Mussolini, excluding sporadic episodes of rebellion and outrage against the regime, did not see large-scale social movements that would have caused serious problems. The most famous prisoner was Carlo Levi who, from his experience in Basilicata, drew the novel Christ Stopped at Eboli, in which he denounces the backwardness of the region, with which he established a strong bond. With the abolition of the districts, the province of Matera was established in 1927. However, at the end of the twenty years, there were some episodes of popular insurrection, such as the revolt of San Mauro Forte in March 1940 (at the end of which there were two victims), where hundreds of peasants rebelled against the regime. Riots also broke out in the municipalities of Bernalda, Pomarico, Salandra and Ferrandina between 1943 and 1945 with real armed clashes.

In September 1943 cities such as Matera (the first city in the South to rise up against the occupying Germans) and Rionero were victims of Nazi-fascist reprisals while Potenza, Maratea and Lauria suffered from Allied bombings. The Republic of Maschito, despite its short duration, was one of the first republican experiences born of the Resistance. In 1944 there was the most serious Italian railway accident and one of the most serious ever to occur, the Balvano disaster, in which more than five hundred people died. After the war there were several popular unrest for the redistribution of land to peasants, the most significant episode was the occupation of the land that took place in Montescaglioso in December 1949, followed by a repression that led to the death of the revolutionary Giuseppe Novello.

On November 23, 1980, Basilicata was devastated by the Irpinia earthquake, which struck a large part of the Potenza area. In 1993, the Sassi of Matera were declared a World Heritage Site protected by UNESCO, the first site in southern Italy to receive this recognition. At the beginning of 2000, movements such as "Grande Lucania" arose, which proposed the restoration of the borders of the pre-Roman region by aggregating the territories of Cilento to Basilicata; and "Taranto Futura", with the aim of favoring the transition of the province of Taranto to the Basilicata region, but both projects were not implemented. In 2003, the decree passed by the Berlusconi government, which provided for the installation of a radioactive waste deposit in Scanzano Jonico, caused an intense protest which was joined by over 100,000 people which led the government to cancel the proposal.



Demographic evolution
Basilicata is the penultimate region in terms of population density, higher only than the Valle d'Aosta; and third last for number of inhabitants, before Molise and Valle d'Aosta. The region suffers from depopulation due to the migratory phenomenon and the drop in births, partly compensated by foreign immigration. Between 1951 and 2019, there was a substantial increase in the population only in the four most developed areas of the region (Materano, Metapontino, Potentino, Vulture). The phenomenon is more pronounced in Matera and in the Metapontino area, particularly in the municipalities of Nova Siri, Scanzano Jonico, Bernalda and Policoro.

Matera has had a significant increase due both to the so-called lounge pole, which gave rise to many small businesses related to the field of furnishings, and to the activities that arose due to the large influx of tourists generated by the interest in the historic city center which has become the "Heritage of 'humanity". In Potenza, after a demographic boom between the 1950s and the early 2000s, there was a period of stalemate, while some neighboring towns (Tito and Pignola), and Marsicovetere, in Val d'Agri, experienced systematic growth.

On the other hand, there is a strong depopulation of the villages in the hinterland; some towns in the province of Matera which, between the 1960s and 1970s reached, on average, 10,000 inhabitants such as Tricarico, Montalbano Jonico, Irsina and Stigliano saw their population halve. Numerous departures also take place in various mountain municipalities of Potentino and Val d'Agri (for example Anzi, Laurenzana, Corleto Perticara, Montemurro), of Pollino (Latronico, Viggianello, Chiaromonte) and in the municipalities most affected by the 1980 Irpinia earthquake such as Balvano, Castelgrande and Pescopagano. In 2019, the demographic balance of the region, compared to the 2011 census, shows a decrease of -5.5 ‰ (equal to 24,782 units), a trend that is getting worse from year to year.