Basilicata is beautiful due to the fact that it is 90% hills and mountains. It is almost like Tuscany without the castles and grandeur, but with untouched countryside and cliff hanging villages literally stopped in time. There are 600,000 people in this region of Southern Italy. Divided into two provinces: Potenza and Matera. Historically this land was called Lucania and is bordered by Campania to the west and Puglia to the east. Southern Italy has been colonised by the Greeks, French, Spanish and Arabians over its history. Even though it is a mainly internal region, Basilicata touches two seas: the Ionian and Tyrrhenian. Matera. Thought to be one of the world’s oldest towns dating back as far as the Palaeolithic times, Matera is now home to a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and is the winning candidate for the European Capital of Culture 2019, this incredible town is an ideal spot to enjoy all of Basilicata. Matera is where man first stopped in Europe being hunter and gatherer … and settled. When did this happen? 2.6 million years ago to 12,000 years ago. Matera is unique and utterly gorgeous. Robertson Wine Tours is based here for a reason. It is the Italy we all hanker after: polite, graceful, hardworking with a respect to tradition in their families, food and wine. Sure the pace is slow, life is fast enough elsewhere. It is an honour to work and live here. If you choose to make Basilicata your destination for wine and food always remember you can be in Puglia in minutes, in Naples in a couple of hours and crossing the Messina strait to Sicily in 3 hours.
Acerenza – Cathedral, The church of San Laviero Martire and Lagopesole Castle
Bernalda – Miglionico Castle Church of Santa Maria Maggiore
Deserted ghost town of Craco
Maratea, a precious pearl embedded in the charming Gulf of Policastro
Melfi The medieval town with its Castle and Museam, Federic
Montescaglioso Benedictine Abbey of San Michele
Metaponto- Archaeological Park & Museum.
The Lucani Dolomites (Volo de Angelo) Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa
Rapolla thermal springs
Venosa – Archaeological Park Jewish Catacombs
How long do I need?
In our opinion, three to five nights touring in Basilicata is the ideal amount of time to spend here. If you want a deep immersion into Basilicata then 7 nights would be perfect. The most unfortunate thing for Matera and Basilicata is it is often overlooked by the big brothers Puglia to the east and Campania to the west. We think of Basilicata as a destination on by itself. 3 nights in Matera is ideal and we can also stay longer and use it as a base to explore central and north Puglia.
When to come ?
Matera is a an all year round destination. May and October are busier times and accommodation can be a little more tricky to find. If you are looking to enjoy more than just Matera we like April through to July and September through to November. If you are coming in the winter or even over Christmas note that at 600 meters above sea level it can get cold and humid and walking can be quiet treacherous. Matera can be very suggestive in the snow, but so hard to know or predict weather patterns it seems.
The Wines of Basilicata
Home to the third most important and noble grape of Italy: Aglianico.
It is one of the most unknown and interesting varietals in Italy.
Ask a Southern Italian winemaker which wine varietal fascinates them the most and we guarantee that it will be Aglianico.
For a deeper understanding of the wines and winemakers take a look at this next page.
Cuisine and main dishes
It really is an unspoilt region and its food really reflects that, Food is more than a religion here, its everything. The regional cuisine has been influenced by Basilicata’s colourful history and cultural roots, with ingredients originating from Northern European, Spanish, French and Arabic traditions. The region was historically poor and isolated, and this is reflected in the delicious, rustic ingredients used in their cooking. Pasta, vegetables and cheese dominate. Chili peppers called peperoncini are enjoyed in so many of the dishes, in restaurants they tend to offer chili in olive oil. The typical food of Basilicata, simple and fragrant, is entirely based on a few local products, wisely combined in typical and very old traditional dishes. The most important product is certainly durum wheat homemade pasta. Local pastas include Orecchiette’ meaning ‘little ears, Tapparelle’ or Lucane Chiappute, basically a wide tagliatelle, One dish called the Assassins pasta is a really simple refried tomato pasta with chiles, crispy and so easy to make. Lamb is king here in Basilicata. As at early 2019 we have some superb restaurants to show you in this delightful land that is Basilicata.
Here are some of the local dishes you should try to sniff out
Matera bread is a famous bread of the region, using an ancient baking process
Lamb dishes are very common, Lampascione often accompany the dishes due their bitter onion like flavour, that is a super combination
Ciammotta (fried potatoes, peppers and eggplants with tomato sauce)
Cialledda, with broad beans, potatoes and artichokes, and lampaggioni salad
Lucanica sausages, pork sausage seasoned with salt, pepper and fennel seeds
Anchovies. Salted Cod, Tuna and sardines tend to make up the seafood
Acquasale is a tomato soup with garlic and oil and thickened with bread
Minestra maritata is a spicy blend of meat & vegetables simmered with pasta
Vegetable breadcrumb dumplings referred to as Strangulapreuti (priest stranglers)
Senise peppers. Thin peppers are fried with potatoes and eggplant and then stewed with tomatoes to make Ciammotta.
Senise peppers are also ground into a powder for a condiment and could be though of a style of paripka
Calzone di verdura baked wheat pizza dough stuffed with seasonal greens and peppers with or without raisins
Focaccia a brazzud is a flatbread with pork crackling, pork fat and oregano
Mostacciolo, almond cookies, cooked in wine with honey
Local pecorino cheese tends to be brushed with oil and vinegar as it ages
Lucanian cacioricotta cheese and caciocavallo Podolico are important cheeses
Scarcedda a tart made fro Easter festivities
Below you will find examples of our tours that include this fascinating region
3 friends from San Francisco enjoy Puglia and Basilicata“We had an incredible trip planned by Robertson Wine Tours. Tim and Cristian created a tour that fit us perfectly – which is no easy feat! The attention to detail and personalization was what stood out for us. Tim kept in contact from the moment our feet touched the Italian...Kara Maiko & Friends.
'Grazie Mille from Louisiana!' Yes, we are home! The return trip is always harder because of the long hours and saying 'goodbye for a while' to new friends! What a unique and memorable trip! We came home with 'little pieces of Italy' and BIG memories! I truly believe it is the people we meet on...Sondra Pilgreen
Basilicata and Puglia Food and Wine Experience with Jetsetter Dear Tim, Lynn and I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how very much we have enjoyed recounting with friends and colleagues just how wonderful your wine and food tour of Puglia was for us. As you know, much of my motivation was professional since I import wines from...Bob Stevens Penn Cove Wine Company
Basilicata and Puglia Food and Wine Experience. 10th Wedding Anniversary.Tim and Cristian, We made it back safe and sound to our three lovely little girls. They were all so excited to see us that it made leaving Italy much easier to bear. Shelley and I had the greatest trip we could have imagined. Your planning and attention to detail simply...John and Shelly Mossman
Retired English couple come to Puglia and Basilicata. 5 day wine and food experience. Tim Robertson had been recommended to me through dear friends and we are very pleased to have made his acquaintance. My wife and I have been to traveling to Italy for many years with various companies and sometimes under our our steam. The 5 days wine touring in Puglia especially... Richard and Rose Hollingbrooke