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Basilicata in the south of Italy sits between the heel and toe of Italy’s famous “boot”. The region is bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea to the south-west, Puglia to the north and east, Campania to the west, and Calabria in the south. With peaceful mountains and charming towns, this off-the-beaten-path destination is a getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The regional capital of Potenza overlooks the Basento river valley in the Apennine Mountains. One of the top sights is the Duomo of San Gerardo. Although renovated during the eighteenth century, the cathedral’s original rose window and apse are from the original twelfth century building. Other attractions include the Torre Guevara, the Palazzo Loffredo and the Church of San Francesco.
Matera is home to well-preserved cave dwellings, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town sits in a small canyon and cave houses (“sassi”) dug into the limestone are found on both sides of the valley overlooking the Gravina. There are also several cave churches, or caveoso. Movies such as The Passion of the Christ have been filmed here due to the ancient-looking townscape.
Much of Basilicata is mountainous, covered by woods and forests that are interrupted by small villages. Mountains throughout the region are scenic places for walking, cycling and climbing. Mountain rivers are also popular for canyoning, canoeing and rafting. The Monticchio Lakes in the north offers a pristine setting for trekking, mountain biking or horseback riding, with the two lakes filling the craters of Mount Vulture, an long-extinct volcano, being the ideal sight to see. Scuba diving and fishing are popular in the Gulf of Policastro and off the shores of the seaside resorts of Metaponto and Policoro.
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