If you thought the authentic Italy disappeared - then set off to the overlooked mountain region Basilicata, where nature experiences are queuing up to be discovered. Basilicata is "the arch" in the boot country, super exciting, exuberant and its own. Perhaps one of the poorest regions in Italy, but at the same time as full of real culture - nature - history and a fantastic cuisine, rustic and varied - as the rest of the country. But not streamlined. Old-fashioned, but not retro. Retro requires a trip beyond what is in demand, and Basilicata has not been there.
This is also why this hike is different. It is short, it is intense, it is - like the region of Basilicata - charming with the small cozy villages located relatively high and thus pleasant even on a summer day.
We set out in the town of Matera; European Capital of Culture in 2019. Chosen among many candidates for its UNESCO-protected neighborhood "Sassi" with cave dwellings that were inhabited until the 50s in the last century – at that time not very romantic. The neighborhood is very hilly and the unique thing is that the facades of the houses are of tuff and the rest carved directly into the rocks. Today, the homes are reopening for artists, restaurants and cafes while maintaining the place's authenticity.
From there it goes out into the hinterland through the Park of Rock Churches, with its Gravina (gorge) and the Mediterranean scrub, to discover prehistoric caves, Neolithic villages and rock farmhouses with frescoed churches. The adventure continues inside the Gallipoli Cognato Park, with its magnificent grassy plateaus from which you can admire the wild walls of the Lucanian Dolomites and live the hamlets of Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano. The unspoiled nature, the intense light and the views will leave you enchanting memories of Basilicata and Southern Italy.
♦ Matera di Sassi – UNESCO site since 1993 – magic city in stone and about 130 cave churches.
♦ Pietrapertosa – cozy town (1000m) and the zipline ” Il Vollo Dell’Angelo” – angels flight.
♦ Lucane Dolomites – spectacular mountains, like the Dolomites in the north, but lower.
Day 1 Arrival Matera
After the arrival to the little town Matera you start an urban trekking with guide in the Sassi district and an UNESCO heritage site and well known from every photo from Basilicata. You will get acquainted with the Baroque city center, the Romanesque churches and the cave civilization. Dinner in a local restaurant in Sassi. Overnight in a hotel or B&B. -/-/D
Walking: 3 hrs.; 4 km, ascent/decent: +200/-200 m
Day 2 Murgia and the Rock churches
This morning the walk will bring you to the Murgia plateau with archeological and naturalistic treasures in the area ”Park of Rock churches”. You will pass the Gravina di Matera with stunning views of the area and a beautiful unique hiking trail. The afternoon is free for exploring the town. B/-/-
Walking: 5-6 hrs.; 9 km, ascent/decent: +200/-200 m
Day 3 Montescaglioso, Madonna della Loe, Monks Park
Short transfer by bus to Montescaglioso and then visit of the old town and the monastery “S. Michele Arcangelo” from the 12th century. From Porta Sant’Angelo continue down the hill towards the old abandoned station, from where you continue the walk through the olive grove until you reach the rock church Madonna della Loe at the edge of Gravina. When you reach the Selva Venisio farm, the trip is coming to an end and from the grancia Parco dei Monaci there is a bus back to Matera via Montescaglioso. Time on your own and accommodation. B/-/-
Walking: 7 hrs.; 13 km, ascent/decent: +85/-360 m
Day 4 The forest and the ridge
Transfer to Accettura approx. 1,5 hrs. in Parco Regionale di Gallipoli Cognato, in the beatiful Lucane Dolomites. After visiting the village there is an easy descent to the Montepiano forest. From the ridge of Costa La Rossa (1026 m) a panorama view of all the mountain peaks opens. Continue from here until you reach Monte dell’Impiso (1295 m) and further down to Pietrapertosa (1052 m). Overninght. B/-/-
Walking: 6 t.; 13,5 km, ascent/decent: +780/-570 m
Day 5 Lucane Dolomites
Today's hike brings you into the world of the Lucane Dolomites. From the Saracen fortress of Pietrapertosa, almost excavated in the rock, and with panoramic views of the Basento valley, you can visit the historic center with its many steps and the precious mother church Chiesa Madre di Santa Maria. At the foot of the castle you take the path down to Caperrino, cross an old bridge, dominated by the rugged Pietrapertosa Dolomites and climb up to Castelmezzano. Visit the historic center and have a picnic at the castle. Return to Pietrapertosa following the same route. Overnight in Pietrapertosa. B/-/-
Walking: 4 t.; 9 km, ascent/decent: +690/-690 m
Day 6 Tour end
After breakfast the holiday is over and the day is open for new experiences in e.g. Pollino National Park, Maratea or some of the cozy small towns in Basilicata.
Practical information: ► The hike can take place in the period fm 15th of April to 30th October. Arrival Matera by bus or train from Rome, Ancona, Napoli, Bari – Bari is preferable (54 km). ► The train from Bari departs from a small station near to the central station. Look for the sign “Ferrovie Appulo Lucane”. The transport time by the FAL train is about 1,5 hrs. and the ticket price is 5 EUR (2020). ► Possible to pre-book a private transfer from Bari (not incl.). ► Departure from Potenza (or Matera) by bus or train.