Surprising Basilicata: Ancient Cities, Norman Castles, Saracen Villages and Tibetan Bridges

This tour was designed to introduce you to the historical centers and the most evocative naturalistic beauties of Basilicata, where you will also discover the tasty local cuisine. You will leave from Matera to get to Venosa and Melfi, centers linked to two important historical figures: Latin poet Horace and Emperor Frederick II of Swabia. You will take a path along which you will admire the harsh lunar landscapes of the Calanchi and those still untouched of the Vulture Melfese region.


7 days


Best season : From March to October

Included / Not Included


Assistance upon arrival at the airport/station in Bari


Car rental with insurance


Matera guided tour with licensed guide and entrance to a rock church/cathedral


Nights in a hotel with a minimum of 3 stars


Directions and suggestions for best beaches


Travel accessories and telephone with Italian SIM


Directions and suggestions for best bars and restaurants


Telephone assistance in Italian, English, Spanish and French


Flights to/from your home city


Meals where not mentioned


Travel Insurance (strongly recommended)


Arrival at Bari airport (or Bari central station) where you will find an Italy Trails representative to welcome you, deliver your travel material and accompany you to pick up the car you will use for the planned trips throughout the duration of the tour. You will then move to Matera and, in the afternoon, you will meet your guide near Piazza Vittorio Veneto for a visit of the historic center. The route will introduce you to the historical and artistic beauties of the city through a visit to the cathedral, the churches that still have vivid frescoes from the Byzantine era and the so-called Sassi, two ancient districts in the historic center of the city consisting of houses carved into the rock, some of which have sculpted portals and friezes, inhabited continuously since the Neolithic Era and with continuity during the subsequent eras until 1952 when they were forcibly evicted. You will absorb its history, character and architecture. Enchanting views of the plateau will accompany the journey between the two districts of Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Matera.

In the morning after breakfast at the hotel, you will dedicate the day to discovering the Little Lucanian Dolomites (Piccole Dolomiti Lucane), spectacular rock formations forming spiers and silhouettes that have been given imaginative names such as the golden eagle, the anvil, the great mother and the owl – due to the shapes that the atmospheric agents have given them over time.
Then you will move to the highest municipality in Basilicata. Following our directions, you will visit the center and the neighborhood of Saracen origin, called Arabat, characterized by narrow streets, dead-ends and single-family houses. You will then go up to the ruins of the Castle from where you will admire a breathtaking view. Even the churches will amaze you with the beauty of their architectural style and the preserved frescoes.
After lunch or a snack, you will transfer to a Norman Arab city. The medieval historic center is among the best preserved in Basilicata. It is made up of the Ràbata and Saracena Arab districts as well as the Norman ones of Monte, Piano, and Civita. We recommend starting the visit from the Norman Castle with its famous cylindrical tower, which in 1333 became the seat of a monastery of cloistered nuns. The Church of Santa Chiara is remarkably beautiful, obtained from the pre-existing church of the castle, and is partly frescoed by the seventeenth-century painter Pietro Antonio Ferro. The Church of the Carmine, frescoed by the same artist, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, whose first element dates back to 968 A.D., and the Diocesan Museum are also worth a visit.
Dinner and overnight in Matera.

In the morning after breakfast at the hotel, you will leave for an area long influenced by the Arab presence. During the journey, you will have the opportunity to stop at certain panoramic places to admire the famous Calanchi, blocks of clayey origin, which the passage of time and the action of atmospheric agents have made them take on bizarre and suggestive shapes. You will then arrive in the village that you will visit independently. The Rabatana District, strongly influenced by the Saracen presence, is a perfect example of spontaneous architecture with its tangle of houses built with stones, bricks and small buildings.
After lunch or a snack, you will move to an ancient and suggestive ghost town where your guided tour with authorized staff will start from the Municipal Media Library.
Of very ancient origins (the oldest artifacts found in the city are tombs dating back to the eighth century B.C.) and particularly flourishing in medieval times, the village was abandoned in the 1960s following a serious landslide caused by the construction of the water network. In addition to the ancient districts of Matera, it has been the set of famous films including Mel Gibson’s Passion of The Christ and Francesco Rosi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli. Those who arrive to this place take a journey back in time, between ancient abandoned houses and silences, interrupted only by birdsong.
Overnight in Matera.

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