Basilicata

The region is not as plentiful a source of art, culture or many of the creature comforts afforded in many other areas of Italy; however it is not void of these attractions. It is rustic yet elegant, and alluring in its own manner. Basilicata has been ravaged by invasions, rulers, disease, poverty as well as poor use of natural resources. However it does posses a perfectly preserved old fashioned simple lifestyle, breathtaking landscape, a small, untamed yet beautiful coastline, vast rolling hills and excellent produce. Its main industry is agriculture while the relatively new discovery of a huge oil field beneath its land has helped bring jobs, wealth and industry to the area.

The region is experiencing a bit of a renaissance and as such many of the under appreciated treasures of the region are being re recognized if not re discovered. One of these treasures is the ancient Roman city Venosa which, in its day, was a thriving city; notably this is the birthplace of Horace the Poet. In the northern part of Venosa there are Roman ruins which include an amphitheatre. Situated close to the Roman ruins are a couple of impressive Norman built churches which are also worth a visit, and can make for some excellent photos. Near Potenza are the rolling hills of Vulture which produce the area's most impressive wine appropriately named Aglianico del Vulture which is grown on top of an extict volcano; resulting in Tufa based soil with a high concentration of volcanic ash, minerals, and salts (as the name would suggest it is made from the Aglianico Varietal). The wine is a hearty, full bodied Italian red wine that pairs well with simple, hearty, mountain foods such as roasted lamb with herbs and vegetables. Other wines of interest include Vino Spumante which is an interesting sparkling red that is similar to a Lambrusco yet better suited for as an after dinner drink, Aglianico di Matera, Aglianico di Ferrandina, Asprino which is a light, refreshing, tangy, slightly tart, sparkling white wine which is low in alcohol and suitable for dessert, Bianco Malvasia, Chardonnay Martino form the hills of Rionero; straw yellow in clor with aromas of tree fruit and grasses, it is a clean refreshing wine with a dry pleasant finish. Great with young cheese, and dry cure fish dishes. A favorite of ours is this local gem Lambrusco del Basento which of course is a slightly sparkling red that is lighter bodied, mauve in color and an absolute ideal fit for local, regional, austere recipes representative of this very simple landlocked throwback region. A few other typical wines include Barile Moscato, Malvasia del Vulture And Chiaro di Acerenza.

The region is also known for wonderful cheese and an abundance of selection; a few specialty cheeses of note include Burrino, Caciocavallo Podolico, Caciocotto, Caprino, Casieddu di Moliterno, Falagone, Fallone di Gravina, Fior di latte, formaggio dei Zaccuni o pecorino (goat cheese), Lucania mozzarella, Manteca, Mozzarella, Paddraccio, Pecorino, Pecorino di Filano, Pecorino Lucano, Ricotta, Ricotta Salata, Toma Basilicata, Treccia Dura to name a few. Other regional specialty foods include various sausage made from local lean goat sheep and pig one named "Pezzente"which means beggar a not so subtle reference to the regions lean economic past. Local recipes often include the abundant agricultural influences and feature various fresh as well as preserved fruits and vegetables including various beans, artichokes, broccoli, rapini, onions, tomatoes, carrots, olives, berries, and of course grapes. Another highlight is the regions largest castle, Lagopesole, built by Emperor Frederick II during the 13 century; like most castles and churches throughout Italy there are small museums or even just areas within the facility where ancient relics are stored and or displayed, (these are definitely worth exploring).

Another interesting area is Matera and the stone houses of Sassi; the homes of Sassi were forcibly vacated during the 1950's for the purpose of "progress", per the instruction of the government. Notably Sassi has been experiencing a comeback and is now a trendy place to live. If you are looking for understated, authentic and honest this is a region that garners investigation.


The Headliner of wine for the region is Aglianico de Vulture is ruby red to burgundy in color and as it ages can also take on some burnt orange accents; it has a nose of fresh ripe grapes and berries, with a certain earthiness and smoke. Flavors carry from the nose with good tannin, adequate balance and a refined finish. A wine that requires decanting and also ages well.





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