Basilicata book

Announcing My New Book, Basilicata: Authentic Italy

The day has come. Basilicata: Authentic Italy, my new book about the unassuming region in the instep of the Italian boot is available! Years of planning, in-person research (the best part!), writing and production elements, and then, the date sort of sneaks up on you.


I set out to explore Basilicata with a purpose. After writing Calabria: The Other Italy, which grew out of several years living in the region in the toe of the boot, people asked me, “What’s next?” I thought and thought. Conventional publishing would have directed me to add to the shelves of books about Rome, Venice or Florence. That’s what sells, after all. But I wanted to continue my exploration of the lesser known, the underrated.

Basilicata is Calabria’s northern neighbor. They share Italy’s largest national park, the Pollino. I had been to Matera, the City of the Sassi, which I included in my Calabria book and which has gradually become a destination for in-the-know travelers to Southern Italy. But what about the rest of the region?

Before visiting, I looked at the map and reasoned that I should be able to more or less cover such a small region in a brief 150 pages. Then I began visiting the villages and the larger towns, going to festivals, meeting the people, sampling the cuisine and reading what was available. I realized that I had taken on a major project.


Basilicata: Authentic ItalyMy journey took me to the rocky region in the heart of the Italian south, to a land where ancient pagan rites live alongside those of the Catholic Church, world-class wine washes down edible hyacinth bulbs, zip-lines parallel old mule trails, and the air is infused with the ideals of Roman poets and brigands. Best known for the evocative cave dwellings of Matera, Basilicata packs an incredible diversity into the seemingly small yet expansive territory sandwiched between Calabria, Campania and Puglia.

To discover what makes this region tick, I traversed Mediterranean beaches and Alpine forests, visited medieval castles and modest homes, attended folkloric festivals and sampled earthy local cuisine, uncovering Basilicata past and present, from pre-Greek to the story of emigration that continues today.

Basilicata: Authentic Italy examines historical context when coming upon the region’s challenges. How could such a noble land, the birthplace of the likes of Horace and final resting place of Pythagoras become the 20th century’s back and beyond, a place where the Fascists exiled political prisoners? What motivated the likes of Carmine Crocco, Basilicata’s most famous brigand—common criminality or social revolt against the devastating consequences of Italian Unification? At times, progress has seemingly passed the region by, while at others, has wreaked havoc, such as in the case of the ghost town of Craco and big oil in Viggiano.

Religion has played its part, as well, and I encounter symbols from ancient burial objects in numerous archeological museums to the Jewish catacombs of Venosa, from the extraordinary Early Christian cave paintings in the Crypt of the Original Sin to Maratea’s Christ statue that rivals Rio’s.


As with my Calabria book, Basilicata: Authentic Italy is available in paperback and electronic formats. Amazon has the “Look Inside” feature to give a peak of its contents. Highlights include a mountain community’s ritualistic Marriage of Trees, an international celebration of fantastical carnival masks, the capital city’s colorful Parade of the Turks, a relaxing sojourn at a classic Italian spa facility, visits to wineries, and of course, the unbridled consumption of countless culinary delicacies. Who knew that a sweet, dried pepper could bring such crunchy delight?

Basilicata: Authentic Italy reflects on the region past and present, as well as considers the future of a land and its people with so much to offer and an even greater potential yet to be realized. Basilicata is a corner of Italy where that elusive authentic experience sought out by today’s traveler can be found. I have done so, and in Basilicata: Authentic Italy, I share the joys and challenges of the experience.

Order Basilicata: Authentic Italy now! (Google it for availability outside the US.)

Amazon US


Kobo E-book

This Website
(signed by author on request)

Join me on September 3rd at 6 pm from the comfort of your home for my presentation about Basilicata on Zoom – send me a message on the contact form or through the Basilicata Facebook Event to receive the code to virtually attend the talk.
UPDATE: The presentation was recorded and here’s a link to see it on my YouTube page: Basilicata: Authentic Italy presentation.

Italy travel books

“Like” Basilicata Facebook page, Calabria: The Other Italy’s Facebook page and follow me on Karen’s Instagram and Karen’s Twitter for beautiful pictures and information.

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My CALABRIA and BASILICATA books make great gifts!

Comments 18

  1. I love following your discoveries of underrated travel treasures! Will this new area be a new travel destination you offer for small groups? Congratulations!

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      Thanks – glad to count you amongst my followers! I hope to add it as a small-group travel destination, but as they say in Italian, piano piano. We first have to wait until we get the green light to travel, and hopefully that will be soon!

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      Me too, Betty. It’s getting tiring not traveling and feeling as though we don’t know what the future will hold. Until then, there’s Basilicata: Authentic Italy and we will keep our fingers crossed for 2021!

  2. So exciting. I looooove the cover photo and colours/design. I have only been to Matera and Potenza in Basilicata, but want to see more…when we can get back to travel. Auguri, Cristina

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      Thank you, I’m really happy with my cover, too! It’s surprising how much there is to see in such a small region – you’ll enjoy it.

  3. Congratulations Karen on your new book. I became obsessed with Matera after reading ‘ Cristo se e` fermato a Eboli,’ back in 1991 and finally visited Basilicata and Matera in 2000. Looking at your book, I realise there’s so much more to do and see. Best wishes, Francesca.

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      Thank you! So many people have been inspired to visit Basilicata after reading Christ Stopped at Eboli. Of course, Levi’s image of the region is now historical, and Matera has changed a great deal even from the time of your visit 20 years ago – new museums, contemporary art and posh hotels in caves, international tour groups, but the history and culture is still able to shine through, and the rest of the region is beginning to come into its own, as well.

  4. Congratulations on the new book!
    Great to see you’re introducing unknown parts of southern Italy to travellers. A good friend from that lives in Cosenza hails from Basilicata and always sharing stories with me, I need to visit. 😉

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      Thank you! It’s a beautiful region and I think that, like Calabria, once people know more about it, they will want to visit. But my book is also for the armchair traveler that wants to experience another corner of Italian culture from their easy chair at home. And then, who knows what might be sparked?

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  5. We are SO looking forward to reading your new book!!!!
    I know now, that we will not be traveling any more, so it will be especially nice to read YOUR travel book!!

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      Grazie mille! Sorry that you aren’t able to travel anymore. Right now, no one can travel but at least we have that to look forward to in the future. Hopefully, Basilicata: Authentic Italy will take you there!

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      Thanks. Unfortunately, Basilicata, like Calabria, is often relegated to a “pass through” for travelers headed to Sicily or Puglia, but that is changing.

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