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Basilicata

Basilicata

Under-appreciated Basilicata sits between Puglia and Calabria on the arch of Italy's boot, and combines the food sensibilities of those regions with its own history, which stretches back over 10,000 years .

Basilicata is far from the beaten path of Italy’s popular tourist spots but its reputation is growing fast, particularly as a food destination. With Puglia to the east, Campania to the west and Calabria to the south, Basilicata sits right in the middle of some of Italy’s most venerated food cultures, and though it takes aspects from all of them, the region has its own ancient traditions that live on today.

The upsurge in tourism is due in large part to increasing interest in the town of Matera. Known as la città sotterranea (the underground city), Matera is situated on the edge of a small canyon, where the Gravina River has eroded into the porous tufa (a type of limestone) over many thousands of years. Experts believe the area has been settled by humans since the Paleolithic Age (around the tenth millennium BC), making this one of the oldest inhabited human settlements in the known world. The ancient inhabitants of Matera carved their dwellings directly into rock face, creating a series of hundreds of caves, most of which are still inhabited to this day. Matera has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993; not only is it a highly valued historical site, it’s also the birthplace of Pane di Matera – one of the world’s oldest and most important breads.

Those visiting Basilicata for the food will find a humble, traditional culinary scene that relies heavily on quality, local products. Food in Basilicata is based on a foundation of durum wheat – the grains here are older than the people and Basilicatans have been cultivating these ancient grains to make wonderful bread and pasta for thousands of years. The earliest known records of pasta actually point towards Basilicata being the point of origin for this starchy Italian staple, and the region boasts a variety of unique pasta shapes and dishes.

There’s so much more to get stuck into in Basilicata that you simply won’t find anywhere else – sweet, smoky Senise peppers, incredible chestnuts from Melfi in the north, and Aglianico di Vulture – one of Italy’s very best red wines. Read on for our complete foodie guide to this under-appreciated region.

Basilicata: the basics

Get started by diving into our complete foodie guide to Basillicata, complete with all the region's unmissable flavours and dishes!

Veggie heaven

A taste of Basilicata

Pasta mollicata is one of southern Italy's favourite comfort dishes, but it was born in Basilicata. Get the recipe here.

Go with the grain

Sweet and local

One of the foundations of Basilicatan cuisine is the IGP-protected Senise pepper, which is dried outside balconies and windows before being thrown into all sorts of dishes for a sweet and smoky flavour. We take a look at what makes it so special.