- Basilicata

Basilicata

Basilicata

Basilicata (Italian pronunciation: [baziliˈkaːta]), also known as Lucania, is a region in the south of Italy, bordering on Campania to the west, Apulia (Puglia) to the north and east, and Calabria to the south, having one short southwestern coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea betwBasilicata-mapeen Campania in the northwest and Calabria in the southwest, and a longer one to the southeast on the Gulf of Taranto on the Ionian Sea between Calabria in the southwest and Apulia in the northeast. The region can be thought of as the "instep" of Italy, with Calabria functioning as the "toe" and Apulia the "heel". The region covers about 10,000 km2 and in 2010 had a population slightly under 600,000. The regional capital is Potenza. The region is divided into two provinces: Potenza and Matera.

Geography

Basilicata covers an extensive part of the southern Apennines, between Ofanto in the north and the Monte Pollino massif in the south. It is bordered on the east by a large part of the Bradano river depression which is traversed by numerous streams and declines to the south eastern coastal plains on the Ionian sea. The region also has a short coastline to the south west on the Tyrrhenian side of the peninsula.

Basilicata is the most mountainous region in the south of Italy, with 47% of its area of 9,992 km2 covered by mountains, whereas 45% is hilly and 8% is made up of plains.

Geological features of the region include the volcanic Monte Vulture and the seismic faults in the Melfi and Potenza areas in the north and around Monte Pollino in the south. Much of the region was devastated in an 1857 earthquake. More recently, there was another major earthquake in 1980.

The combination of the mountainous terrain combined with the rock and soil types makes landslides prevalent. While the lithological structure of the substratum and its chaotic tectonic deformation contribute to the cause of landslides, this problem is compounded by the lack of forested land. This area, similar to others in the Mediterranean region, while originally abundant with dense forests, was stripped and made barren during the time of Roman rulers.

The variable climate is influenced by three coastlines (Adriatic, Ionian and Tyrrhenian) and the complexity of the region's physical features. The climate is continental in the mountains and Mediterranean along the coasts.

Basilicata has an otherworldly landscape of tremendous mountain ranges, dark forested valleys and villages so melded with the rockface that they seem to have grown there.

Since the 1930s this land has been inseparable from the name of writer Carlo Levi. His superb book Christ Stopped at Eboli documented the harsh life of Basilicata’s poverty-stricken peasants, and even its title suggests that Basilicata was beyond the hand of God. The discovery of Western Europe’s largest oilfield 30km south of Potenza in 1996, should have altered the view of Basilicata as a poor wild region beyond commercial development, but the stereotype lingers.

However, today Basilicata’s remote atmosphere and tremendous landscape is attracting the attention of travellers. The Passion of Christ – the gospel according to Mel Gibson – brought the extraordinary sassi (stone houses) of Matera to the world’s attention, while Maratea is one of Italy’s most chic seaside resorts. The purple-hued mountains of the interior are impossibly grand, a wonderful destination for naturalists, particularly the soaring peaks of the Lucanian Apennines and the Parco Nazionale del Pollino.


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