Why can't my home town look like this?
If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider the Basilicata region of southern Italy. Basilicata forms the instep of the Italian boot with two small seacoasts, the eastern one on the Ionian Sea and the western one on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Depending on your interests, Basilicata may be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food, and wash it down with fine local wine. Basilicata is among the few regions of Italy undiscovered by tourists.
Matera, population sixty thousand, lies south of the Apulia border. This area has been settled for at least twelve thousand years. In September 1943 Matera was the first Italian city to rise against the German invaders.
Matera’s Apulian-Romanesque Cathedral dates from the Thirteenth Century. In Matera’s unique old town the streets are often rooftops; its houses, churches, and chic restaurants are caves, hewn out of solid rock. The Sassi of Matera are caves occupied continuously by human beings for some nine thousand years. They have been named a World Heritage Site. Numerous bars and restaurants take advantage of this unique location. The area was once called ''la vergogna nazionale,'' Italy's shame. Matera resembles ancient Jerusalem and historical movies such as Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ were shot there.
Terranova di Pollino is a mountain village in southern Basilicata very close to Calabria. It lies at the entrance to the Parco Nazionale del Pollino (Pollino National Park) the largest in Italy at just under 750 square miles (more than 1900 square kilometers.) The park is home to a wide variety of endangered species. Many fossils have been found including a very well preserved skeleton of a giant elephant that lived between 400,000 and 700,000 years ago.
Basilicata has very traditional cooking. The major meat is pork and the locals know how to extract the maximum from their porkers. Hot peppers are popular and can be quite hot. Basilicata bread is consumed in many parts of Italy. See our companion article I Love Touring Italy – Basilicata for a sample menu and more information on Basilicata wines plus an in-depth examination of local tourist attractions. If you like powerful wines, try the Aglianico del Vulture from a local grape that grows on the extinct Mount Vulture volcano or its surrounding hills. This wine may be cellared for up to twenty years.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.Click to access the original, longer article on this Italian tourist location.
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