Regional capital: Potenza
Provinces: Matera, Potenza
Basilicata or Lucania ([baziliˈka(ː)ta]) is a region in the south of Italy, bordering on Campania to the west, Apulia (Puglia) to the north and east, and Calabria to the south, having one short southwestern coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea between Campania in the northwest and Calabria in the southwest, and a longer one to the southeast on the Gulf of Taranto on the Ionian Sea between Calabria in the southwest and Apulia in the northeast. The region can be thought of as the "instep" of Italy, with Calabria functioning as the "toe" and Apulia the "heel". The region covers 9,992 km² and in 2008 had a population of less than 600,000 inhabitants. The regional capital is Potenza. The region is divided into two provinces: Potenza and Matera.
Climate and Geography
Basilicata covers an extensive part of the southern Apennines, between Ofanto in the north and the Monte Pollino massif in the south. It is bordered on the east by a large part of the Bradano river depression which is traversed by numerous streams and declines to the coastal plains on the Ionian sea. The region has a short coastline on the Tyrrhenian side of the peninsula.
Basilicata is the most mountainous region in the south of Italy, with 47% of its area of 9,992 km2 covered by mountains, where as 45% is hilly and 8% is made up of plains.
Geological features of the region include the volcanic Monte Vulture and the seismic faults in the Melfi and Potenza areas in the north and around Monte Pollino in the south. Much of the region was devastated in an 1857 earthquake. There is also a problem with landslides, which are caused not only by the lithological structure of the substratum and its chaotic tectonic deformation, but also by the lack of forested land.
The variable climate is influenced by three coastlines (Adriatic, Ionian and Tyrrhenian) and the complexity of the region's physical features. The climate is continental in the mountains and Mediterranean along the coasts.
The region was originally known as Lucania, named for the Lucani (Lucanians) tribe, who were the first known settlers. Their name was derived from lucus, Latin for forest. Samnite tribes also inhabited the area before the Greeks invaded in the 7th century BC. The Greeks established settlements at Siris, Metaponto and Heraclea, making the region part of the wider Magna Grecia. They also developed basic agriculture and started trading.
The Romans pushed into Lucania as part of the expansion of their empire and by the 2nd century BC the area was under Roman rule. The Romans were the first to exploit the massive forests of the region, a process which continued for centuries and nearly exhausted this natural resource.
The Byzantines followed the Romans and it was from them that the region was named Basilicata, (from basilikos, "imperial").
In the following centuries the Normans and Swabians also invaded Basilicata. The subsequent 13th century Anjou domination led to the establishment of a feudal system which hampered any hopes of an economic recovery for the region, which remained in abject poverty.
After a century or so under Kingdom of the Two Sicilies domination, Basilicata became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. It was during this period that the State confiscated and sold off vast tracts of Basilicata's territory formerly owned by the Church. As the owners were a handful of wealthy aristocratic families the average citizen did not see any immediate economic and social improvements after unification and poverty continued unabated. This gave rise to the phenomenon of brigandage whereby the Church encouraged the local people to rise up against the nobility and the new Italian State. This strong opposition movement continued for many years.
It was only really after the Second World War that things slowly began to improve thanks to land reform. In 1952, the inhabitants of the Sassi di Matera were re-housed by the State, but many of Basilicata’s population had emigrated or were in the process of emigrating, which led to a demographic crisis from which it is still recovering.
At the beginning of 1994, UNESCO declared Sassi di Matera a World Heritage Site. Meanwhile, Fiat Italian automobile manufacturer established a huge factory in Melfi, leading to jobs and an upsurge in the economy. In the same year the Pollino National Park was established.
Basilicata has three DOCs: the classic red Aglianico del Vulture and the recent appellations of Terra dell’Alta Val d’Agri and Matera.
Aglianico, one of southern Italy’s finest red wines, is rapidly gaining admirers elsewhere. The Aglianico vine – also the base of Campania’s Taurasi – was brought to Basilicata by the Greeks, perhaps as long ago as the 6th or 7th century BC (its name is a corruption of Hellenico).
The slopes of the extinct volcano of Monte Vulture produce a robust, deeply colored wine that can improve for many years from fine vintages, becoming increasingly refined and complex in flavor. There are also youthful versions of the wine, sometimes semisweet and even sparkling.
Terra dell’Alta Val d’Agri red and rosé are based on Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Matera uses a range of varieties in its six types of wine, including the red Sangiovese, Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon and the white Greco Bianco and Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata.#
- Aglianico del Vulture Superiore
- Aglianico del Vulture
- Terre dell'Alta Val d'Agri
- Grottino di Roccanova
Grapes and wines
Basilicata is an often neglected region of arid hills and desolate mountains that can be bitterly cold for a southerly place. But the cool upland climate has its advantages for viticulture, in wines that can show enviable aromas and flavours. Basilicata has only one DOC in Aglianico del Vulture, but that, at least, gives the inhabitants a source of pride. One of sourthern Italy's finest red wines, it is gradually gaining admirers elsewhere.
The Aglianico vine - which is also the base of Campania's vaunted Taurasi - was brought to Basilicata by the Greeks, perhaps as long ago as the sixth or seventh century BC. (Its name is a corruption of Hellenico). On the slopes of the extinct volcano known as Monte Vulture it makes a robust, deeply coloured wine that from fine vintages can improve for many years, becoming increasingly refined and complex in flavour. There are also youthful versions of the wine, sometimes semi-sweet and even sparkling, but the dry "vecchio" or "riserva", after ageing in oak casks, rate the most serious consideration.
Aglianico is also used for "vini da tavola" in other parts of the region, notably in the east around Matera, where reds from Sangiovese and Montepulciano also originate. White wines of interest are the sweet Moscato and Malvasia, the best of which come from the Vulture zone and the eastern Bradano valley.