Regional> Basilicata


This region was originally called Lucania, but it was later named Basilicata by the Romans, from the Greek word basilikos, which means governor or prince. From 1932 to 1947, the area was officially called Lucania, but then it returned to its current name. However, the region's inhabitants are still called Lucani.

Basilica borders Apulia in the north; Apulia and the Ionian Sea to the east; Calabria to the south; and the Tyrrhenian Sea and Campania to the west. It is Italy's poorest region, most likely because the mountainous landscape is not conducive to building towns. Also, the dry, infertile land prevents prosperity from farming, and only small amounts of cereals, sugar beets, grapes and citrus fruits are grown.

Travel to Basilica to experience the serenity of Italy in the isolated areas of Lake Monticchio, Maratea, Metaponto and Policoro.

The cooking of Basilicata is some of Italy's most overlooked. Despite its bold, vibrant, fresh Mediterranean flavors-outstanding produce, tasty cheeses, a wonderful variety of fresh and dried pastas, and addictive cured meats-the cuisine of Basilicata is little known outside the boundaries of the region. Tourism has barely begun to touch this area of Italy, which explains why its cuisine and traditions remain a mystery both to other Italians and to foreigners.

Nestled between Apulia and Calabria in the very south of the boot, Basilicata has little land available for grazing, so animal protein has been enjoyed rarely and the killing of the family pig (or of the landowner's pig, if the family couldn't afford its own) every winter was a big event. What little meat was consumed was roasted or baked in hearty casseroles with potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and a scattering of herbs for flavor; today meat plays a more important on the region's tables, but the dishes remain simple and robust, as in centuries past.

Pasta is undoubtedly queen in this rocky landscape, cut and cooked a thousand different ways. Heaping portions of vegetables, mostly baked rather than sautéed or fried, are a favored second course. Basilicata is famous for its cheeses, most of them made of sheep's milk. There is sharp pecorino cheese, delicious caciocavallo, and creamy burrata. There is only one DOC wine in the relatively small region of Basilicata: Aglianico del Vulture. The large, robust grapes used to vinify it make for a rich red wine similar to the Aglianico coveted in Campania, an ideal accompaniment to hearty meat dishes like arrosto misto, a heady combination of spit-roasted sausage, lamb, and lamb's intestines.

The local vegetarian specialty called Cialledda can be eaten as a second course or as a soup if more water is added to thin it out. It is a simple but deliciously flavored dish, characteristic of peasant cuisine.

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