National Geographic Traveller (UK)



Matera has brought a lot of attention to the lesser-visited southern region of Basilicata, but there are more historic towns and villages in the region that haven’t yet entered the limelight. Here are some of the best


About an hour’s drive west of Matera, the village of Pietrapert­osa clings to the jagged slopes of the Lucanian Dolomites. Some of the world’s most celebrated civilisati­ons have left their mark here: the Greeks were first, followed by the Romans, then the Goths, before the Saracens carved a crowning fortress into the cliffside in the 10th century. At an altitude of over 3,000ft, Pietrapert­osa is Basilicata’s loftiest town, a shade higher than its neighbour, Castelmezz­ano. This equally striking village can be reached from Pietrapert­osa by the Path of the Seven Stones trail or by zip-line: Il Volo dell’Angelo (the Flight of the Angels) will whisk you between the two, superman-style, at speeds of up to 75mph. volodellan­


Maratea is also known as the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian, and it’s not at all difficult to see why. Watched over by a 70ft statue of Christ from the summit of Monte San Biagio, Maratea is made up of a scattering of small communitie­s nestled in the leafy coastal hillside. Just like Matera, you can expect to encounter centuries-old frescoes in the old town’s churches, but the caves here have a different character: the countless, sea-cut caverns that pock the coastline house magnificen­t stalactite­s and stalagmite­s. Maratea is also a perfect place to stop off on a road trip through southern Italy: the coastal road overlookin­g the Tyrrhenian Sea’s turquoise waters is on par with the famed Amalfi Drive — only without the traffic.


There are enough crumbling churches and castle ruins in Rotonda to keep history buffs busy, but outdoor adventures are its main draw. This is one of the best jumping-off points to explore the Pollino National Park, which is among Italy’s largest protected wilderness­es and sweeps over mountain ridges and river canyons from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Ionian coast. The national park headquarte­rs in Rotonda are a useful resource: book a certified guide through them or count on their extensive knowledge of the best hiking and mountain biking trails to plot your own course through the old-growth forests, where rare Bosnian pines grow and Apennine wolves roam. parconazio­nalepollin­


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The nearest airport to Matera is Bari. Ryanair flies from Stansted and Wizz Air from Gatwick, with a flight time of around three hours. From Bari, European travel operator Omio runs a regular bus service to Matera, which takes just over an hour. Prices start at €3 (£2.65) each way.

The Sextantio le Grotte della Civita has doubles from €250 (£220), B&B.

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