Basilicata is a south Italian region covering around 3,900 square miles. Made up of just two provinces called Potenza and Matera, this region is a small treasure yet untouched by major international tourism. When you visit its capital, Potenza, or any of its cities, you are most likely going to be surrounded by Italian travelers seeking a relaxing vacation.
The region touches Campania to the west, Puglia (Apulia) to the north and east, as well as Calabria to the south, so if you are in any of those locations, you can easily access beautiful Basilica for a side-trip. There are also two coastlines to enjoy here, either along the Tyrrhenian Sea or the Gulf of Taranto.
The name of this old region is believed to refer to the term “Basileus,” a Greek term for the Byzantine emperor. Basilicata is also known as Lucania, a name derived from the Lucari people that inhabited the area during the Iron Age. The old-world feel of its name aptly paints an image of an organic, historic city of beauty.
For your budget travels, there are several hostels, or “ostellos,” spread throughout the region, in cities like Potenza, Rapone, Tricarico, and San Severino Lucano. These Basilicata hostels tend to be clean, minimal, yet with old-world style and ideally situated. The hostel staff likely will have a lot of information and tips to share with you. There are both dormitory as well as private room accommodations, all at affordable prices. The best part about most of the hostels in Basilicata are the included eateries where you will experience some of the most genuine culinary delights of Italy.
One place where you will find a couple of hostels is in the ancient city of Matera. This is a convenient location for settling down so that you can venture to the Sassi district to gaze upon the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as Sassi di Matera, a city set in stone. Believed to be one of the first areas in Italy inhabited by man, Sassi di Matera is a complex of houses built into calcarenitic rock. Fossils indicate that man lived here since 7000 B.C. Not until the 1950’s did the residents get relocated by the government due to concerns about sanitation. The area was restored in the 1990’s and made into a UNESCO site in 1993.
When you visit Sassi, be aware that it can get very hot during summers. It is a good idea to arrive in the early morning unless you decide to visit during the cooler seasons. Wear a sturdy pair of walking shoes and be ready to discover the mesmerizing sights and ancient atmosphere of this stone city as you walk through its alleys, up and down steps, through twists and turns. You will feel like you have traveled back in time. In fact, the setting is so reminiscent of the age-old sites of Jerusalem that many film producers have taken advantage by filming movies here, including Timur Bekmambetov’s 2016 version of “Ben Hur.”
To get a better idea about the history of this wondrous place, get a guided tour or visit Casa Noha, where you can view films that will show you the heritage of the land. At the end of your daylong expedition, you will be glad to return to your hostel in Matera to refuel your body with a delectable dinner and some energizing sleep.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Basilicata hostels. Welcome.