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Unlocking the Secrets of Basilicata

Author: Lisa Jeeves
by Lisa Jeeves
Posted: Oct 21, 2014

Located right down in the "arch" of Italy's boot, Basilicata is a wonderful region to explore. A stay in any of the villas in Italy in this region will provide you with a wealth of art, history and culture.

The southern coast of the region arcs along the Ionian Sea (there’s a small bit in the north west that touches the Tyrrhenian Sea) and the northern part covers the Apennine Mountains. In fact, this region is the most mountainous in the country and is a perfect place for energetic travellers to get out and about to explore on foot. If you do stay in any of the villas in Italy around Basilicata, be sure to seek out the hidden gems that many people who visit the country miss out on, including the Sassi di Matera, the Tavole Palatine, and the town of Venosa.

Sassi di Matera

Inscripted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, for history aficionados, Matera is paradise - you'd be hard pressed to find an older site near any of the villas in Italy. A troglodyte settlement, Matera is home to the best-preserved remains of such an ancient civilisation anywhere in Europe. As you wander around the site, you can see the emergence of vicinato - areas of houses grouped around a courtyard with shared amenities. Well organised water sources, workshops and granaries outside the centre are features of the Sassi di Matera, and some of the buildings, such as the Church of the Original Sin, still boast frescos and artworks that existed some 500 years prior to the great masters. A wander through this ancient city is an absolute eye-opener and a once in a lifetime experience.

Tavole Palatine

Built in the 6th century BC, the Tavole Palatine, dedicated to the goddess Hera, is one of the best existing examples of a hexastyle Greek temple. Although it was originally thought the temple was dedicated to Athena, a find of pottery illuminated the fact that this was not the case. Of the original temple, 15 of the 32 columns survive to this day. Archaeologists have determined it would have had a tiled roof with ceramics and terracotta decorations; finds of some small fragments of the roof are housed in a local museum.


One of Basilicata’s best-kept secrets is the town of Venosa. Villas in Italy located near the northern part of the region will site you in an excellent location to spend a few days leisurely exploring this lovely town. Founded after the Trojan War by Diomedes, the town was taken over by the Romans in 291 BC, and it is the birthplace of Horace. You can visit the Aragonese castle of Venosa, which was built in 1470; it has an unusual design of a square plan and round towers. The Jewish catacombs showcase history from the last years of the Roman Empire and you can also see the Abbey of the Holy Trinity, which is the largest monastery in this part of the country. The old church was begun in the 5th century and the new one was begun in the last part of the 11th century, but was never completed.

Jonathan Magoni is Senior Manager of Cottages to Castles, a family owned company specialising in high quality holiday villas, apartments and cottages in Italy. For spectacular villas in Italy in Tuscany, Sicily, the Italian lakes, ski resorts or city centres, we offer only the very best. Discover Italy at your own pace and without time restrictions in our hand picked villas and cottages.

About the Author

Writer and Online Marketing Manager in London.

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Author: Lisa Jeeves

Lisa Jeeves

Member since: Oct 18, 2013
Published articles: 4550

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