With Karen’s Travel LLC
Explore one of Southern Italy’s hidden gems on a comprehensive, small-group Basilicata Tour! Join Karen Haid, author of Basilicata: Authentic Italy, and travel through a region of magnificent natural beauty, rich culture and longstanding traditions. Check out the exciting itinerary, highlighted by medieval castles and ancient historic sites, excellent food and wine, dramatic mountain scenery, coasts of both the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, and of course, the world-famous Sassi di Matera, a UNESCO Heritage Site! Basilicata packs an incredible diversity into the unassuming instep of the Italian boot.
How do you sign up? Go to the contact page and we’ll get in touch with all the particulars!
Interested in a future tour? Let us know and we’ll send you information as soon as it becomes available.
Interested in Calabria, as well? Go to my Calabria Tour page.
Basilicata Cultural Tour
12-Day Basilicata Land Tour
October 10 – 21, 2023
October 8 – 19, 2024
Basilicata Cultural Tour Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival Bari, Melfi
Transfer from international airport, train station or hotel in Bari to Melfi, historic destination for crusaders, kings, popes and brigands, as well as location of our 4-star hotel. Our exploration of Basilicata starts off with a richly frescoed rupestrian church, where we will discover an image of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II himself! Welcome dinner and overnight.
Day 2 – Acerenza, Pietragalla, Lagopesole
Today’s excursion begins in Acerenza, one of the Borghi più belli d’Italia and featured in the recent film From the Vine. The medieval oldtown is anchored by a magnificent basilica for which the region is said to be named. After lunch, we head to Pietragalla, home to an atmospheric complex of wine caves, and then on to see Lagopesole castle before settling in for the night. Dinner and overnight.
Day 3 – Ripacandida, Aglianico del Vulture, Melfi
We start out the day with the glorious 16th– century-frescoed sanctuary, known as the “Bible of Ripacandida, and then we head for a family-owned organic winery in Barile, where we learn about and taste the famous Aglianico del Vulture wine as we enjoy a casual lunch. In the afternoon, we visit Melfi’s historic center, completely surrounded by the original stone walls. Highlights include a tour of the archeological museum, located in the impressive Norman castle, and the cathedral with its original Romanesque bell tower. Dinner and overnight.
Day 4 – Monticchio, Venosa
In the morning, we immerse ourselves in the lush forest of Mount Vulture, an extinct volcano with two lakes in its former crater, and visit an abbey that grew out of a grotto church. In the afternoon, we will soak up the culture of historic Venosa, birthplace of Horace with Roman ruins and catacombs, an Aragon castle and a fascinating abbey, a remarkably ambitious project, to remain forever “the unfinished,” as the Italians call this national monument. (Venosa is another one of Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages!) Lunch, dinner, overnight.
Day 5 – Castelmezzano, Potenza
We check out and start our day in Castelmezzano (also one of the Borghi più belli d’Italia), picturesquely wedged amongst the Lucanian Dolomites, where we will enjoy a sophisticated twist on local ingredients by a Michelin-starred chef. After lunch, we will stroll through Potenza’s lovely old town, the highest regional capital in Italy, and visit a fascinating archeological museum that highlights artifacts from the original peoples before the arrival of the Greeks and Romans. We then head for Basilicata’s dramatic west coast and check in to our Maratea hotel overlooking the gorgeous coastline. Lunch, dinner, overnight.
Day 6 – Maratea
In our relaxing day on the Tyrrhenian Sea, we will luxuriate in the breathtaking panoramas of Maratea and its spectacular Christ the Redeemer statue. Lunch, dinner, overnight.
Day 7 – Pollino National Park – Coast to Coast
After checkout, we immerse ourselves in the forests and mountains of Italy’s largest national park, the Pollino, where we will take a walk through a tranquil beech grove to a lovely overlook for a glimpse of the park’s symbol, the Bosnian pine. Lunch will highlight area specialties, such as the truffle and red eggplant of the Pollino. Continuing to the eastern coast, we will check in to our 4-star hotel in Policoro, distinguished historically for Pyrrhus’ victory over the Romans with the first use of elephants in battle. Dinner and overnight.
Day 8 – Aliano, Craco
Today, we explore the stark beauty of the badlands that Carlo Levi so eloquently described in Christ Stopped at Eboli, his poignant memoir that delves into the harsh realities observed during his time as a political exile in the 1930s. Visits to Aliano, town of his principal residency, and Craco, an atmospheric ghost town, reveal the great challenges that forced so many to emigrate from their homeland. (If unable to enter Craco, we will view the oldtown from outside and will alternatively visit Tursi.) Lunch, dinner and overnight.
Day 9 – Metaponto, Matera
After check-out, we travel in the footsteps of the ancients, back to the days of Greater Greece as we behold the remains of Metapontum’s Doric temple and archeological museum. Following lunch in an agriturismo, we proceed to Matera’s Murgia Materana Park, where we learn of the city’s Neolithic origins and bask in the dramatic view of the “Sassi” just across the ravine. Check-in to Matera hotel. Dinner on your own, overnight.
Day 10 – Matera (Sassi di Matera)
Our exploration of the Sassi, World Heritage Site and Europe’s 2019 Capital of Culture, features visits to a peasant house, cave churches, the stately Romanesque cathedral, an enormous underground cistern, and Palazzo Lanfranchi with Carlo Levi’s monumental mural to the people of Lucania. Lunch in the old town, dinner on your own, overnight.
Day 11 – Matera
This morning, we will have the opportunity to view contemporary art in the ancient Sassi or enjoy a bit of free time, and in the afternoon, after our farewell lunch, the exquisite Byzantine images of Matera’s “Flower Painter” in the Crypt of Original Sin, often called the Sistine Chapel of rupestrian art. Dinner on your own and overnight.
Day 12 – Departure
Transfer to airport or train station in Bari for your flight home or other travels.
2023 Basilicata Cultural Tour basics:
$4290 per person, $330 single supplement
Small group Basilicata tour – maximum of 15 participants
Comprehensive Tour accompanied by Karen Haid, author of Basilicata: Authentic Italy and Calabria: The Other Italy, together with expert local guides
Transportation and tours as outlined above (airfare not included)
11 nights in top-quality hotels, breakfast daily, 10 lunches (including wine tasting), 8 dinners, wine and water included with meals
For many, many photos and a description of this travel experience, check out my blogpost: Basilicata Cultural Tour, Much More Than Matera!
Would you also like to visit Calabria, Basilicata’s southern neighbor? Combine this tour with a Calabria tour!