My Bella Basilicata

14 June 2014

Finding Your Roots in Basilicata

Church record book


Basilicata is a region that has experienced a long history of emigration by the Lucanian people to North and South America as well as Australia. There are now some towns in Basilicata that have an emigrant population on these continents that surpasses the current local population. This means that there are a lot of Lucanians in the world with a link to Basilicata.

Many who have ancestral roots to Basilicata and have heard family stories about the hardships that their grandparents or great-grandparents endured to leave this region have a yearning to learn more about where these hardy people came from. Why would they make such a journey and what is the town that the left so many years ago like today? How can I learn more?

One of the great things we have been able to do at My Bella Basilicata is to help people find the links to their ancestral home. We are able to do local research that many times provides results that can never be achieved only by internet or archive searches in a far-away country.  Find a link to your family in Basilicata may seem like a daunting task, but it can be done.
American family visiting their ancestral town.

 It has been an honor to see the faces of people who are able to walk down the same streets their grandparents may have trod on a daily basis. Or to see them marvel at the scenery that is Basilicata that there forefathers left behind. And there is always the smile when someone tastes the local specialty that has always been served at their special family occasions but they never knew why.

At My Bella Basilicata we know the region, we know the language and we have had the pleasure of helping others trace their ancestral links to this region – let us help you in your search.


20 November 2013


This short video will provide you with a snapshot of what Basilicata has to offer.
Come to Lucania to see, hear and taste what you are missing!

04 October 2013

Friday's Photo: Fall is in the Air

As the summer season comes to an end some light fog can be found floating up the mountain valleys in the mornings. Quickly the sun burns it away and another wonderful day in Basilicata. 

14 September 2013

Liquore al Caffé

If you who have an affection for Italian caffé, then Liquore al Caffé, is something you must taste. This is a heavenly coffee-based liqueur, containing 26% alcohol and popular as an after-dinner digestivo.

One of the most popular national brands is Borghetti, but there are also several regionally-produced options.  A favorite in Basilicata is the Amaro Lucano’s Liquore al Caffé, unfortunately found only in the southern parts of Italy since it is made in Pisticci.

Bragging rights to the recipe are claimed by the locals of Laurenzana, a small mountain town south of Potenza. This town has a history of making this type of liquore, and it is possible to enjoy several superb locally-produced varieties.  No two recipes are quiet the same as every housewife, restaurant and coffee bar has their own way of making it.

The bitter traditional amaro is an acquired taste for many, but this one goes down particularly easily and is one of the flavors that will always remind you of bella Basilicata.

03 September 2013

Aliano and Carlo Levi

Aliano seems to bask in its infamy. Seventy years ago it had been a typical peasant village in remote southern Basilicata, scraping to survive, and ignored and derided by Italy’s central government. It would have remained hidden and forgotten in its lunar-like hills had it not been paid a visit by destiny.

When the Mussolini government wanted to silence the political writings and rabble-rousing of a Jewish doctor and anti-Fascist named Carlo Levi, it could think of no punishment more severe than banishment from his northern city of Torino to the hinterlands of Basilicata, in Italy’s southern instep. Modern communications and northern news filtered very slowly- if at all- from there, so Levi and his inflammatory activism would be safely out of their dictatorial hair.

Levi arrived in Aliano to find an abject poverty in stark contrast of his prosperous home region, which seemed a world away. The remote locale was neglected and remained outside of time while resources were focused on northern industrial technologies and interests. Levi spent his year of political exile in Aliano under house arrest, acting as town physician while painting local scenes and characters, and taking detailed journalistic notes which he would use to write his well-known book, Christ Stopped at Eboli. From his stone house on the edge of the village, Levi observed, interacted with, tended to, painted, and chronicled the life, hardships, and contrasts of a place within his own country that was foreign to him.

When he was released from his house arrest, Levi penned his most famous work which shed light on the political, economic and social problems of the south, and would eventually bring attention and change to the region. And the town of Aliano could not have been more grateful.

Today, Aliano is still small and still remote, but the appearance, well-being and status of the town are very different thanks to Levi, whose writings and presence continue to live on there. Many of the buildings have been spruced up and restructured, with more work obviously underway. The place looks tended to and cared for, unlike the descriptions of squalor that Levi chronicled upon his arrival.
Inhabitants parade the streets, gather in the piazza and coffee bars, and smile their friendly greetings at visitors. Tourists from across Italy come on a sort of pilgrimage, clutching dog-eared copies of the book, and cars bearing license plates from other European countries are parked in the municipal lot.

The hamlet pays homage to their famous guest with numerous namings in his honor – a street, piazza, coffee bar, restaurant are all dubbed Carlo Levi. A statue of him stands at the entrance to town.
Aliano has been designated a “literary park,” making it a sort of open-air museum. Plaques with quotes of Levi’s descriptions are affixed to buildings so visitors can tour the town and see it through his eyes and words.

The house of his interment has been preserved and turned into a museum containing documents and lithographs donated by Levi. Many of his paintings are on display in the Museo della Civilta` Contadina (Museum of Peasant Culture).

It was Carlo Levi’s request to be buried in Aliano and his grave lies in a panoramic spot in the cemetery up above the village. It is sprinkled with pebbles left by visitors to show how beloved he was.

Aliano is isolated on top of a hill with commanding views of the weirdly-eroded countryside and surrounding mountains. The town has come a long way since their illustrious guest came to stay, but the timelessness of their traditions and the splendor of their natural surroundings are unchanged. Nor is their affection for the man who served them so well and continues to impact their well-being.

28 August 2013

Volo dell'Angelo

Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano
If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a guided missile and soar over a steep gorge at 80 mph, then you will not want to miss the Volo dell’Angelo (Flight of the Angels). The open-air thrill ride is located in the Dolomiti Lucane in Basilicata at roughly 3600 feet above sea level, strung between two picturesque mountain towns:  Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa.   The panorama of the majestic mountains and the surrounding country makes this a location worth visiting in its own right.

These two towns have literally and figuratively joined together in 2006 to open the Volo dell’Angelo zip line.  It is doubtful you will find this type of high-wire act anywhere else. Two 4000-feet long high-tension cables are strung across a 1200 feet deep gorge.  This is a two person ride, so you and a friend can get strapped on for an adrenalin rush as you zip across the canyon head-first from one town to the other. Be forewarned: unless you have another friend waiting for you on the other side, this is a round-trip ticket!

For many, the initial launch will be the scariest part, as the ground rushes by below, but you will quickly be out over the gorge where this sensation is replaced by the feeling of unrestrained flight. The stop at the downhill end is a little abrupt, but not enough to cause any discomfort. This is certainly an experience recommended for any thrill-seekers venturing to beautiful Basilicata.

If you are ready to fly with the angels, there are a couple warnings: the entire process is not fully explained on the website or by the local staff, and, as you will find in much of Basilicata, they don’t speak much English.

The two cables, called Linea San Martino and Linea Paschiere, are located a good distance from each other and there is a navetta (shuttle) that will take you only part of the way between the two launch points. From there you must hike almost two more kilometers to the launch point to return to Pietrapertosa, an almost 150-meters change in elevation (part on a dirt trail). On a hot summer day this is no easy task. The launch point in Pietrapertosa also requires a short but steep climb up from the town. The flights last only minutes but the entire adventure will require at least an hour.