The only region in Italy that can boast two names – Basilicata, however, is the officially recognised one – is a land in which human and natural history have left important traces ever since it has emerged from the sea. In olden times it was known as Lucania, from the Latin ‘lucas’ either because it was a woody land, or because it was populated by the ‘Liky’ an ancient people coming from Anatolia, or maybe because it was the land reached by a warlike people who had followed the sun, known as ‘luc’. It was called Basilicata for the first time in a document dating from 1175, originating probably from the name ‘Basiliskos’, a Byzantine administrator.
For years Basilicata, whose people even today prefer to be called ‘Lucanians’ rather than ‘Basilischi’ or ‘Basilicatesi’, seemed to be the place where all the enormous problems of southern Italy were concentrated. Washed by two seas, the Jonian to the south-east and the Tyrrhenian to the south-west, mountainous in the centre with peaks rising above 2,000 m, hilly to the east and with flatlands for a short way to the south-east, Basilicata gives itself over to the traveller, offering him/her the excitement of the discovery of its natural beauty, of its history and prehistory, of its traditions which in some areas conserve the ancestral memories of the origins of man. Then there is its cuisine, simple and genuine which features all the characteristics of the Mediterranean diet.
Basilicata knows how to win people over whether their visit is a due to a question of simple curiosity or to their love of travelling over mountain tops and hills that offer breathtaking and unusual panoramas, or then again to the desire to visit cities packed with history or untouched seaside towns with never ending beaches of fine, golden sand where the Greeks landed in the VIII B.C. Basilicata is a land of strong contrasts and a sense of community harmony. It jealously safeguards its own identity where all the typical features of the rural have been conserved, and as if to create contrast even post-modern skyscrapers and bridges built to challenge the laws of gravity, like the one at Potenza, can be found.
Even if it is not yet the main aim for traditional tourists, Basilicata is appreciated for its good reception and for the many attractions it offers: health is the key in the natural spas of Rapolla, Terme La Calda and Terme di Ala and Latronico. Nature can be found in the National Park of Pollino, in Gallipoli Cognato Forest, in the Lucanian Dolomites and in the Historical and Archaeological Natural Park of the Murgia and of the Rock Churches of Matera. For those who delight in history, there are the museums of Potenza, Matera, Melfi, Venosa, Metaponto, Policoro, Castel Lagopesole and Irsina. Culture and tradition abound with the folk festivals and with the very important exhibitions in Matera and Maratea. Food and gastronomy, offered by hordes of family restaurants, are the jewels of Lucanian hospitality and its cuisine. The beauty of its seaside is not to be forgotten in the clear waters of Maratea and in Metaponto, Pisticci, Scanzano Jonico, Policoro, Rotondella and Nova Siri. Travelling in Basilicata still offers all the excitement of an adventure, a voyage of discovery into a past packed with history, the feeling of being one with untouched and breathtaking nature and there are also very hospitable people ready to give help and advise anytime it is needed.