Everyone flocks to Matera. The unhealthy caves have turned into luxury hotels and expensive spas. From Matera many tourists have a tendency to head into Puglia. The fact that Matera is their only stop in Basilicata annoys me. There are things to see and do before you hit the highway into Puglia. Head to Bernalda, the Naval of Basilicata and make it the hub for an exploration of the wonders along the Ionian Sea.
So let's say you're in Matera, you've explored much of Matera's underground, and you'd like to see some compelling bits of Basilicata before heading home or heading to Puglia. Here are some of my suggestions.
A short itinarary would be to head down to Bernalda and plan to stay a few days. You'll want to get to the Ionian sea, where you might wander the ancient site of Metaponto, and perhaps swim at the beach. If you have a car, it's a short drive. But you can do the trip on public transportation. The number 344 SITA bus will take you from the bus station in Matera to Bernaldo in a mere 50 minutes on every day except Sunday in the evenings.
You can drive from Matera to Bernaldo in 38 minutes.
You can stay at Francis Ford Coppola's place in Bernalda if you have some serious cash on you, but we recommend a lodgings, like The Hotel Giardino Giamperduto, a friendly B&B that once housed a cheese making operation.
From Bernaldo you can drive to the modern town of Metaponto in 14 minutes, or you can take a bus that only goes once a day to the town and walk to Ancient Metaponto (see your options). You can also walk to the beach from Metaponto.
You might also yead least towards my favorite ghost town in Italy, Craco. You might stop at attractive ridge-top town of Pisticci on the way, the second largest city in the province after Matera and producer of Amaro Lucano, the famous bitter liqueur you'll see in nearly every bar in Italy. You also have the option of continuing on to see Aliano. Aliano was the town where Carlo Levi was exiled. You can visit his house and see the stunning landscape he wrote about in his book Christ stopped at Eboli, which includes an awe-inspiring drop into a valley that farmers and shepherds had to navigate every day.
Altamura is a fine town to wander around. But please, try the bread. Have a panino made with it for lunch or snack. The DOP designation tells you this bread and the flour used can't be replicated elsewhere. Click the picture to find out more about this amazing bread and where to find it.
The honeyed tones of this limestone city are most evident during the "golden hour" near dusk, Take the underground visit to see how houses are fashioned by removing the limestone in blocks, creating a "basement" or cantina where cheese and wine can be stored, and providing blocks for the walls of the building.
But Basilicata isn't only about older travelers living out their romantic impulses in cave dwellings. Imagine, if you will, being strapped into a four-seat glider attached to a 1200 meter steel cable and launched in a free fall back down into the wilds of Pollino National Park,. You and three strangers could fly like the park's famed golden eagles looking for field mice to eat. Imagine! In fact, the attraction is called: Flight of the Eagle.
If you're a beach person looking to lay out on an Ionian beach, be aware that summers will be hot and beaches crowded. September and October is usally good for nice temperatures and October is when we got the great cloud pictures above. May into June is pleasant as well.
Find out what the weather might be with our month to month climate charts for major tourism cities.
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