Basilicata is a very small and hidden beautiful, ancestral place, cut off from all major southern Italy cities and business ways, so much so that even the vast majority of Italians never put a foot on it. Recently, an Italian quite successful road movie set in this region used the slogan “Basilicata does exist!” to express this concept.
You dont quite “pass through Basilicata on your way to any meaningful city or region, you must really decide that you want to go there, to reach it: motorways pass just outside its territory, railways are only local. And yet this state of perennial insulation in the centuries became it’s today fortune: no wild urbanisation, no cementification, no mafia nor camorra around here.
In Basilicata you can travel for miles and miles without spotting a house, or a person, if by night you will experience the long gone sensation of “pitch black total darkness”…until you reach maybe a tiny village in stone over a mountain top, placidly resting in an undetermined past, without any anxiety for tomorrow; or you can be blocked by a religious procession that will occupy all the locals and leave the entire village empty.
Melfi lays on the highest part of Vulture, the ancient and naugthy volcano which was active up until 400.000 years ago, and dominating the North of Basilicata region.
It’s a vast territory the one where Vulture played for millions of years, leaving its marks in the form of old and more recent craters, and creating hills and valleys.
It’s sufficient to make a tour around its sides to see ancient lava flows, craters and other signs of activity that you wont believe to be so deep in the past. You must stop at the Monticchio Lakes, two lakes where water filled ancient craters, in the most recnt activity era.
The Bramea of the Vulture, a rare nocturnal butterfly, today protected species, chose them as their sole habitat.
And then Melfi itselt, ancient imperial city, proud of its castle built by Federico II of Svevia, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, in the 11th century. It now hosts an important archeological museum.
Its symbol however is the imposing Norman tower, spared by Counter-Reform, dominating the rich Duomo square.
Quite unique are the churces carved into the tuff, in particular Santa Margherita, worth a visit.
The pedogenesis processes of the pyroclastic material led to the formation of soils particularly fertile and potassium-rich; the subsoil instead contains numerous mineral water springs, naturally carbon-dioxide rich.
Upon this extraordinary soil the vitis vinifera Aglianico variety has found the place to express itself at its best. Helped by the tempered cold climate, it enjoys the hot South sun which at dusk allows some fresher air to descend from the mountains and helps it to maintain pleasant acidity levels and to develop elegant parfumes.
This late ripening grape is concentrated on a territory joining Campania to Puglia, with Basilicata in the middle, along the 41st parallel, where apparently it give its best, however here in the Vulture it is blessed by features and quality quite unique.