Basilicata… lose yourself in the heart of southern Italy.
‘Back Roads of Basilicata’ Tour (8 days)
Basilicata, in the heart of Southern Italy is a region to explore and truly immerse in its rich history and traditions. Travelling off the beaten track you will discover amazing national parks, woodlands and ancient villages perched high. Come and experience more of the real Italy with Luciana’s team.
Read on to find out more about our ‘Back Roads of Basilicata’ tour.
About the tour
On a ‘Back Roads of Basilicata‘ tour you will enjoy a taste of an Italy which you just cannot stumble across. Choose to visit this gem of southern Italy with new experiences and places which are tranquil and serene far from the tourist crowds. Over the 8 days, your specialist guide and archeologist Fabio, will take you on an amazing journey of discovery of this ancient land of Lucania. Amazing landscapes and towns such as Matera, Melfi, Metaponto will astound and delight as you are transported from pre history to Greek, Norman and Medieval times.
You will taste the regional flavours of Basilicata – food sprung from poverty and from making something out of nothing. Enjoy pasta dishes, seasonal vegetables, pork, lamb and rabbit and artisan cheeses made by the shepherds.
Basilicata is nestled between Calabria and Puglia in southern Italy and lies between the Ionian and the Tyrrenhian coasts. It is a treasure trove of ancient archeological sites from the Greek and Roman eras; hidden caves with Christian art and villages lost in time. The lush woodlands and chestnut trees and pasture lands are also a delight to experience.
This is a fully escorted, small group tour (no more than 12 guests) led by Fabio.
October 17 – 24, 2017 & 2018 (8 days)
DAY 1: BASILICATA – MATERA (L)
You will be met by your private driver & guide at your hotel in Bari by 9.00am with an airconditioned private vehicle to visit the sights of Bari, including the opera house and main cathedral before your transfer to Matera (1.25 hr drive approx) in Basilicata. This magnificent town is at 400 metres above sea level, has a population of 55,000 people and is a unique World Heritage Site as well as Europe’s capital of culture for 2019. You will be based here for the next 3 nights.
Explore the beauty of Matera with your guide. It has been inhabited continuously since prehistoric times and experience a history which will take you from Greek and Roman times, to the Christians hiding out in the caves, to Normans and Renaissance times to the modern day. Lunch is in a delightful restaurant in the historic centre of Matera. Indulge in a many course lunch tasting the local specialities from antipasti to pasta and meat dishes, all accompanied by local wines from the region. This afternoon, relax and unwind in your spectacular surroundings before heading out again for a passeggiata in town and meeting some local artisans. Enjoy a little of the dolce vita in the vibrant piazza with an aperitivo or gelato …
DAY 2: BERNALDA - METAPONTO ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE- MATERA (B,L)
An exciting day as you head south to the small town of Bernalda, perfect for a coffee stop. It is the birthplace of film director Francis Ford Coppola who has returned to his origins and restored a fabulous palazzo. You may catch a glimpse of the lovely courtyard and enjoy a coffee in his cafe next door. Heading onto the important archeological site at Metaponto you can explore the 6th century BC Temple of Hera on the Tavole Palatine. Dedicated to the Greek Goddess Hera – wife of Zeus, the site is also where the Greek phiosopher and mathematician, Pythagorus had a school and spent his final days here in Metaponto. The archeological museum is astounding with the local artefacts – with no crowds and hardly any tourists! Lunch is in a delightful local restaurant in the area where we savour specialties such as hand made pasta with wild boar sauce… This afternoon we will explore more of Matera.
DAY 3: TURSI - VALSINNI (B,L)
This morning we visit a small and isolated church in the countryside with 8th century origins. It’s simple Romanesque style has some exquisite frescoes inside worth exploring. Travel on further to the hilltop village of Tursi where you can unwind over a morning coffee before we walk through the village and ancient quarter. As far back as the 5th century the Goths had constructed a castle at its peak, with its secret underground chambers and protected by deep ravines. Saracens from Africa sacked the village in the 9th century and today their influence can be seen in the architecture and also reflected in some of the locals dialect/language today. After a relaxing lunch we travel about 20 minutes to visit the medieval village of Valsinni. Learn all about the 16th century poetess Isabella Morra who lived here. The village is also noted for its many millers of grain and ancient millstones still visible today in one of the palazzos. Returning to your accommodation by early evening, there is time at leisure to soak up more of the magic of Matera – there is time to visit some ceramic artisans and others creating wonderful art, clothing and shoes.
DAY 4: ABANDONED VILLAGE - PISTICCI - BARI (B,L)
Today promises to be an amazing experience as we head to an abandoned village perched on a rocky cliff 400 metres above. Founded by the Greeks in the 6th century it occupied a strategic position here. The village has suffered many landslides over the centuries with the final landslide in 1963 when it was finally abandoned. It has also been the film location for great films such as “The Passion of Christ”, “Quantam of Solace” and “Christ Stopped at Eboli”. The town of Pisticci is nearby and a must to see. Rows of whitewashed houses with terracotta roofs are aligned magnificently and the surrounding limestone formations or karst deposits – ‘calanchi’ evoke an otherworldly and lunar landscape. The area is famous for making a local and traditional herbal liqueur since the 1800’s, known as ‘Amaro Lucano’ which is a must to taste after a light lunch in Pisticci. Return to Matera for your last night, exploring this fascinating town once last time…
DAY 5: FORENZA (B,L)
This morning we go north, passing more amazing scenery until we reach Forenza, your base for the next 3 nights. Forenza was founded by the ancient Romans in the 4th century and has been inhabited ever since. Take time to visit the local historical museum whose interactive modern display beautifully highlights the traditions and people of the place. After our morning cafe’ stop and chat we head further into the countryside and check in to your wonderful accommodation. Unwind over a magnifcent lunch prepared by an award winning chef who creates traditional and modern dishes with great artistry. Early this evening we explore the nearby village perched up high at 800m – a secret gem and certainly on the back roads of Basilicata! The 11th century cathedral was an important centre in its time. At the local bakery we can taste the local specialties such as biscotti , ricotta cake and its panettone voted the best in Italy in 2014
DAY 6: MELFI - PRIVATE COOKING CLASS (B,L,D)
Today we enjoy a scenic drive to nearby woodlands abounding with beech, fir and chestnut trees and several lakes being formed from ancient volcanic craters. Onto the medieval walled town of Melfi which has a population of 15,000 people. It’s Roman origins are fascinating and you can admire the 11th century castle high on the hill, which now houses the archeological museum. We stop for a relaxing lunch here in Melfi where many or all the ingredients have come from the family’s gardens and made in-house. Enjoy wonderful air dried salumi, fine pecorino cheeses and more… Unwind in your delightful accommodation and this afternoon immerse yourself in the culinary traditions of Basilicata with a private cooking session with the chefs. A special evening awaits as you create many courses from antipasti, pasta and desserts using the local, fresh and seasonal produce of the land. A true Italian vacation to remember!
DAY 7: VENOSA - PRIVATE WINERY VISIT - CELLAR TASTINGS - FORENZA (B,L,Supper)
This morning you will visit the northern town of Venosa, in the province of Potenza. The town’s Roman origins go back to the 3rd century BC when they overtook the original pre Roman Sannite tribes. With the building of the via Appia in the 2nd century BC, the great trading route which linked Rome to Brindisi, Venosa (Venusia) flourished. Explore the many Roman sites including an amphitheatre and baths as well as one of the first Jewish colonies in Italy with the catacombs. Lunch today is in a fine setting – at a winery famed for its DOC wine Aglianico Del Vulture. This grape variety was introduced into Lucania (Basilicata) by the ancient Greeks. Meet the winemakers of this wonderful estate spread over 18 hectares and learn all about this grape and delight in tastings of this ruby red wine with an intense aroma of wild berries. Returning to your accommodation there is time to soak up more of the country atmosphere at your accommodation and enjoy our final evening together in beautiful Basilicata.
DAY 8: RUVO DI PUGLIA - BISCEGLIE - BARI (B,L)
Leaving Basilicata this morning to make your way to Bari, we pass wonderful scenery and stop at Ruvo di Puglia. This ancient town is rich with archeological finds from the Greek Hellenistic period as well as a magnificent medieval cathedral from the 12th century worth visiting. The surrounding countryside here is full of canyons and deep ravines gouged out by the rivers over the centuries.
Bisceglie is famous for olive groves and here you will have the opportunity to meet olive oil producers whose family has been producing exquisite award winning extravirgin olive oil for generations. Learn all about the production of olive oil and enjoy delicious tastings over a lunch with their wonderful range from fruity and delicate to flavoured oils with crushed lemon, mandarin or bergamot. Arrive in Bari central station / hotel / airport by approximately 15.30.
END of TOUR.
Good bye from Basilicata with fond memories of the last 8 days.
$5640 per person, twin share (AUD $950 single supplement)
$4540, twin share (USD $750 single supplement)