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Basilicata Basilicata in a Nutshell

The region’s most iconic foods –

Bread. The bread is made with semola flour, often cooked in a wood oven. Crunchy on the outside, firm but tender on the inside and delectable, it’s what bread ought to be!

Peperoni Cruschi. Long, thin sweet peppers that are dried in the sun then fried in olive oil, they’re eaten as is or crumbled on top of cavatelli pasta. They’re found only in Basilicata.

Caciocavallo. A cheese made from cow’s milk, most notably the local Podolica breed, it’s named for the shape that looks like a saddle bag. Caciocavallo podolico from the high Basilicata mountains is one of Italy’s most prized (and priciest!) cheeses.

Pecorino. Fresh, aged or ricotta, the pecorino cheese produced here has a fantastic taste thanks to the mountain pastures where the sheep graze.

Cacioricotta. From sheep or goat milk, it’s a ricotta that has been allowed to harden, so it can be grated on the region’s pasta dishes. It melts to become a creamy burst of flavor, more decisive than parmesan.

Lamb. The sheep you see grazing are also used to produce fantastic main courses. It’s delicious, whether it’s grilled, stewed or roasted with potatoes. One classic dish is cuturiedd, a rich lamb and potato stew.

Ciambotta. A popular local dish, it’s made with potatoes, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes, all grown under the strong southern sun and picked fresh. Each cook makes it differently.

Cavatelli con mollica di pane. Hand-formed pasta served with a “poor man’s parmesan” topping that is composed of sauteed bread crumbs, garlic, a few herbs and crumbled peperoni cruschi.

Pasta e ceci. Small pasta in a long-cooked creamy chickpea soup.

Aglianico DOC. The wine of the gods, or at least the Greeks. The grapes were brought over in antiquity when this area was part of Magna Grecia, and have been cultivated here ever since. Garnet red and full bodied. The name is said to derive from the word “ellenico” (hellenic).

Moscato Secco. The region’s white wine is a fruit-scented moscato that smells sweet but is in reality a dry wine. Pairs well with fish or vegetable-based pasta dishes.

Amaro Lucano. An after-dinner liqueur to aid the digestion, it’s made from herbs and alcohol and may take a little getting used to, but it’s a nationally-distributed liqueur born and bred here in Lucania in Pisticci.

Espressino. A coffee drink that it is sort of like a “mini cappuccino” but with sweetened cocoa powder between the coffee and milk foam layer, as well as on top of the foam.


Look for these films to get a taste and view of the region before leaving home.

Un Paese Quasi Perfetto. A recent flick filmed in the mountain towns Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa, a funny, sweet tale of a small town struggling to survive.

Basilicata Coast to Coast.
A surprise hit movie by musician and comedian Rocco Papaleo, who hails from Lauria, it’s a romp across the region by a band who decides to walk from the Maratea to Scansano Jonio as a publicity stunt, taking in the region’s breadth of beauty along the way.

Benvenuti al Sud. Filmed in the Cilento area of Campania, it’s not a Basilicata-based movie but does give a good glimpse of the north-south stereotypes and sense of hospitality that is common down here. Cute and whimsical, a worthy watch.

Christ Stopped at Eboli. A film adaptation of Carlo Levi’s famous book, it sets the stage for a trip to Aliano and the clay hills of that part of Basilicata.

The Nativity Story. A 2006 movie shot around Basilicata (with some scenes in Morocco and Cinecitta’ studios in Rome). The most famous movie filmed here was The Passion of the Christ, but Basilicata has been the Holy Land stand-in for many Biblical films.

I Moschiettieri del Re (The Musketeers of the King). A newly-released tale of four rather than three musketeers, filmed entirely in Basilicata.

Other recent movies that were film at least in part here in Basilicata: Ben Hur; Quantum of Solace; Wonder Woman.


Under the Southern Sun by Paul Paolicelli. An Italian-American discovers his roots in Basilicata and conducts an indepth research to understand how the place they left shaped the people they would become and the nation to which they emigrated. A very interesting book.

The Castle on the Hudson by Renato Cantore. Recently translated into English, this book recounts the rags-to- riches story of a family that left Castelmezzano for New York, and the man who helped build modern Manhattan.
About the Author
Valerie has been living in Basilicata for eight years, and is now considered a true Lucana paesana. She provides professional genealogy research and heritage immersion journeys through My Bella Basilicata.
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