The wild soul of Italy is revealed

23 August 2023
Written by
The Italy Insider

Basilicata stands as an unbridled treasure awaiting discovery

Discover Basilicata, Italy’s untamed gem, where a third of its terrain is protected wilderness. It stands as a bastion of exploration, one of Italy’s last frontiers where the call of discovery still resonates. Amidst this rugged expanse, understanding unfolds through sight, as its forests, gorges, lakes, rocky formations, spires, and ancient rock-carved churches defy preparation. Its allure is akin to a remedy, a therapeutic balm.

This realm mirrors the concept of divinity—a devotion practiced with deliberate reverence, permitting the luxury of marveling over time. The ideal entry point rests in the Pollino Park, one of Italy’s grandest national reserves. Circling the majestic Monte Apollo, reminiscent of ancient Olympus, paths and cycling trails meander through beech, oak, and chestnut woods, leading to ancestral giants—the gnarled, millennia-old “loricate pines.” These venerable sentinels embody the park and its legacy, standing since the days of Dante and Petrarca.

To the north, the Appennino Lucano Val d’Agri – Lagonegrese National Park invites rejuvenation amidst ever-shifting nature. A panorama in flux greets every gaze: an ecological corridor bridging Cilento and Pollino. Its canvas encompasses the Apennine peaks, lush Val d’Agri, Lake Pertusillo embraced by woods merging with water, a symphony of reflections. Here, foxes, weasels, martens, and rare enigmatic wildcats roam freely.

View of Lake Pertrusillo, Val D’Agri, Basilicata

A stone’s throw away lies the Calanchiva of Montalbano Ionico Reserve, a prehistoric, open-air marvel, unveiling geological wonders sculpted by water’s artistry. Vignettes of yesteryears unfold at places like the San Giuliano Regional Reserve, where a Pleistocene whale emerged in 2006. In contrast, within the Gallipoli Cognato e Piccole Dolomiti Lucane Regional Park, emotions surge intensely—hearts race, eyes widen. This is the theatre for one of Southern Italy’s famed experiences: the “volo dell’angelo” amid the Lucanian Dolomites’ villages, with spires and peaks rivalling those in the Tre Venetian Dolomites. For those preferring terra firma, the dense Gallipoli Cognato forest is celebrated for its awe-inspiring giant oaks.

Devotion is the essential emotion to explore the Archaeological, Historical, and Natural Parc, where 150 rock-carved churches grace Matera’s vicinity—a millennium-spanning tapestry of local worship, with ancient origins harkening back to the Early Middle Ages. This sanctuary beckons solitary contemplation or literary treks orchestrated within its confines.

Lastly, the resplendent Monticchio Lakes offer an exquisite epilogue to Basilicata’s exploration. Cradled in the Vulture Regional Park, a realm of superb wines, abbeys, and rare butterflies, these twin elliptical lakes nestle within dormant volcano craters, mirror images of each other. Immersed in verdure, emblematic of Basilicata, they burst forth with white water lilies as spring graces the land.

Panorama of Monticchio Lake in Basilicata, Italy.

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