Basilicata: Authentic Italy by Karen Haid
Basilicata: Authentic Italy captures the essence of the small, diverse region in the unassuming instep of the Italian boot. From the renowned Sassi di Matera to the most remote mountain village, this in-depth travel essay explores a land of magnificent natural beauty, its rich culture and a proud people whose contemporary lives harmoniously mingle with longstanding tradition.
238 pages, 6 x 9 inches
Journey to the small, 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 unassuming instep of the Italian boot. To discover what makes this region tick, the author traverses Mediterranean beaches and Alpine forests, visits medieval castles and modest homes, attends folkloric festivals and samples earthy local cuisine, uncovering Basilicata past and present, from pre-Greek to the story of emigration that continues today.
Basilicata: Authentic Italy goes off Italy’s beaten tourist path and digs deep into this lesser-known Southern Italian region. With heart and humor, Karen Haid sets out to explore this fascinating land that maintains an old-world charm and authenticity into the 21stcentury. 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 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 the author encounters symbols from ancient burial objects in numerous archeological museums to the Jewish catacombs of Venosa to the extraordinary Early Christian cave paintings in the Crypt of the Original Sin to Maratea’s Christ statue that rivals Rio’s.
All along the way, the author’s experience is enriched by the local people, and perhaps their story resounds the loudest in Matera, a place where personal integrity, cultural strength and an incredible collective resilience were brought into force to overcome past difficulty. Once considered a national shame, the Sassi di Matera are today hailed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the footsteps of international tourists in-the-know echo along its ancient stone streets. 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. The author does so and shares the joys and challenges of the experience.
“Ideal for both the armchair traveler and the on-site visitor, Basilicata: Authentic Italy is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Impressively informed and informative, Basilicata: Authentic Italy deftly showcases both the famously well known and the obscure off-the-beaten-path sights to see, places to visit, and people to meet. Especially recommended reading for anyone contemplating or embarking on a visit to Italy, Basilicata: Authentic Italy will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary Italian Travel Guide collections and reading lists.”
Midwest Book Review
“Taking the road less traveled led Haid to explore Basilicata…. (She) participates in local festivals to honor saints, visits beaches, and explores the country’s largest national park… There are descriptions of crispy peppers, truffles, and black chickpeas that will entice even the most particular of foodies… As a solo woman traveler, Haid takes everything in stride, and her meetings with residents are the best parts of the journey. Visitors looking for an authentic experience need not look far—everything in Basilicata is authentic.
Verdict: An intimate exploration of an often overlooked region of Italy. Recommended to readers who appreciate all things Italian.“