Basilicata is one of the most remote and least visited parts of Italy. Although one of Italy’s smallest provinces, it can boast a distinctive local cooking style and some excellent little-known wines. It is the recent emergence of Matera as an intriguingly offbeat destination that is putting Basilicata on the map. Continuously inhabited for more than 9,000 years, Matera is two different towns: the modern one, where most of its inhabitants live today, and the old town, which was originally a troglodyte settlement bored into the limestone of a steep bluff. Several of the abandoned cave dwellings have now been turned into hotels.
Wines produced from Aglianico grapes, the region’s best-known variety, grown at the base of Vulture volcano in northwest Basilicata are elegant but robust compared with other southern Italian reds due to the richness of volcanic soil and altitude of the vineyards. Elena Fucci offers tours of her vineyards and cellars, along with a tasting and light lunch (advance booking required). Other wineries of note are the venerable Paternoster Vini, open since 1925, and Cantine del Notaio.
Matera's Favorite Guide
The most rewarding way to visit Matera is to book a half-day tour with Francesco Foschino, a highly sought-after guide who is a proud native of the city. Tel. (39) 347-573-6470.