What to see in Basilicata

Updated: Jun 29

It is funny isn’t it, you see something about an area or a place and then suddenly you notice it everywhere!

This happened to me with Basilicata, a region in the south of Italy. I was putting together my Social Media posts for the week and wanted to highlight areas of Italy that are not often referred to and this amazing picture of Metaponto came up. Then I was reading an article one of my writers gave me and Basilicata again came up as an important archaeological site. That evening Amazon Prime sent me a notification of a film I might like - “From The Vine” - which was filmed - yes, you have guessed it - in Basilicata!

What a beautiful place! The views shown on that film were absolutely stunning. It is a region of forests and mountains and borders Calabria and Puglia, as well as the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas. The famous city of Matera is there, known for its Sassi district, a vast hillside complex of cave dwellings that date back thousands of years. It is part of the Murgia Matera area, which is a gorge between Matera and Motescaglioso which includes around 150 rock-cut churches.

We will definitely be delving more into this area in future editions of the magazines - probably many editions as there is so much to discover - but for now I want to talk about Metaponto.

Metaponto rises on the plain to which the city itself gives its name, the Metapontino, between the Bradano and Basento rivers, and is one of the most important seaside resorts on the Ionian coast of Basilicata.

Sea, nature and archeology make Metaponto one of the most popular destinations in Basilicata, and it is at this point that the landscape changes. The winding roads and barren views give way to vast areas of Mediterranean scrub and pine forests that border on the golden beaches bathed by the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea.

It was founded by Greek colonists from the Achaia, in the second half of the 7th century BC, whose name means "beyond the sea", becoming very soon one of the most important cities of Magna Graecia.

The territory was very fertile and owed much of Its economic wealth from barley, which is depicted on the coins of Metaponto and this became the symbol of the city and was sent as a gift to Delphi.

Not far from the modern town is the archaeological area of Metaponto with its ruins, among which the famous Tavole Palatine and the National Archaeological Museum of Metaponto. The Museum hosts the main finds of the ancient Greek City and some finds coming from the nearby area of Pisticci and the archaeological area of the Incoronata.

The museum is divided into 4 meeting rooms:

  • the prehistoric finds

  • the Greek colonization between VII century B.C and century B.C.

  • integration between Greeks and indigenous people

  • Roman Period;

The Metaponto Archaeological Park

One of the most important tourist attractions of this region is the archaeological site of Metaponto.

Excavations have uncovered the ruins of the ancient Greek colony of Metaponto, such as the Antiquarium, the theatre, the agora and several temples dedicated to Athena, Apollo, Hera, Aphrodite and Demeter, along with Roman era monuments of such as the “castrum".

The so-called “Tavole Palatine” is a late 6th century Doric temple dedicated to Hera, built on the right bank of the river Bradano in an area where the ruins of a Neolithic village have been found.

This site at Metaponto is also known as the "School of Pythagoras" [570-495 BC] in honour of the Greek mathematician who spent time here during the last years of his life.

The 15 Doric columns of this ancient temple give an idea of both the economic and cultural magnificence of Metaponto in the centuries before Roman times - the temple is 34 meters long and 34 meters wide. The name "Tavole Palatine" dates back to the Middle Ages.

But it isn’t just culture you will be able to enjoy here. The coast and stunning natural landscapes are an amazing place to explore by boat, foot, or even horseback.

To read more about unknown areas of Italy subscribe to the magazine here

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