Basilicata is one of the regions that composes the extreme south of Italy.
Nestled between three regions it borders to the north and east with Puglia, to the north and west with Campania, to the south-west overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea in the Gulf of Policastro, to the south borders with Calabria, to the south-east instead overlooking the Ionian Sea in the Gulf of Taranto.
Basilicata has an area of just over ten thousand square kilometers, is divided into two provinces: Potenza and Matera.
It has a largely mountainous and hilly territory and only for a small flat part. Its only flat area is the plain of Metaponto, located south of the region along the Ionian side.
Its massifs are the highest peaks that compose the Lucan Apennines with Monte Pollino (2,248 m) Monte Papa (2,005 m) Monte Alpi ( 1,900 m) Monte Raparo (1,764 m) and Monte Volturino (1,835 m).
Mount Vulture in the northwest is a now inactive volcano. Its hilly area consists largely of clay soil, which is why Basilicata is a region subject to landslides and landslides.
Rich in torrential rivers, among the most famous are the Basento, the Bradano, the Cavone, the Sinni, the Agri and the Noce. On the border with Puglia and Campania the river Ofanto. There are also streams worthy of note such as the Sauro that converges in the river Agri and the Gravina di Matera and the Gravina di Picciano that instead converge in the river Bradano.
As for the lakes of greater importance, we have that of Monticchio, at the foot of Mount Vulture.
Of volcanic origin, which became a regional reserve in 1971.
Place rich in vegetation and habitat of a rare endemic species of a night butterfly: the Brahamaea europaea.
Lake San Giuliano, Lake Monte Cotugno, Lake Gannano and Lake Pietra del Pertusillo are all artificial, built for irrigation or drinking.
Its coasts are very diversified, on the Tyrrhenian side it has high and rocky coasts, on the Ionian stretch instead we have low and sandy coasts.
Basilicata has a rich and diversified environmental heritage, in fact its territory is divided into six different sub-areas, each with its own characteristic:
● Vulture-Melfese located to the northeast characterized by highlands cultivated with wheat, instead in Vulture we have a presence of woods alternated with vines;
● Potentino and Dolomiti Lucane located to the north-west with a strong presence of woods and its mountains are between 1,200-1,500 meters high; ● Massif of Pollino and Mount Sirino located to the south-west that constitutes the most impressive peaks of Basilicata with heights above 2,000 meters, an area characterized by the presence of forests and woods;
● Val d'Agri located in the center-west, is a plateau at an altitude of 600 meters that follows the path of the river Agri until you reach the plain of Metaponto;
● Matera hill located in the center-east consists of hills of medium height characterized by clay soils subject to severe erosion of rainwater that give rise to geomorphological phenomena known as badlands and barren;
● Metapontino located south-southeast characterized by a large plain of alluvial origin, exploited with intensive agriculture.
Basilicata was known as Lucania until the 10th century. The name Lucania is attributed to several origins : the first is that it is thought to derive from the Latin from "leucos", which means white, shiny.
Linked to the legend of a people traveling south who arrived in this land from which he could see the sun rise, light, called it Lucania that is "land of light".
Another variant could be the origin from "lucus" meaning forest . Very likely also the origin from the Greek from the term "lycos" which means wolf, derived from hirpos, would find analogy in the name of the Hirpini a tribe very close to the Lucanians whose name meant wolf.
The origin of the name Basilicata instead could have originated from the Greek basileus which means official of the king, but it seems that such figures did not exist. The most accredited hypothesis is that the name derives from the basilica of Acerenza, since the bishop had jurisdiction over the whole territory.
The name first appeared in the Catalogue of Barons, which corresponded to a list of fiefs of the Norman Empire, then dependent on the Eastern Roman Empire.
In ancient times Lucania was wider and its borders were different from those we know today, it included most of the territories of Campania and Calabria. However, it did not include the territory of Matera, and the northernmost area of Vulture.
The sources of the fifth century tell us that reference was made to the Great Lucania and that its borders were extended to the Strait of Messina and was inhabited by a people of Samnite origin.
These boundaries were maintained even when the Augustan regions were established in 7 A.D. as part of the Regio III Lucania et Bruttii. Different was for Matera and Vulture that were included in the Regio II Apulia and Calabria
As for the history of the territory, starting from prehistory we have the first settlements that date back to the Paleolithic. We have shelters dating back to the Mesolithic. Fortified villages dating back to the 5th millennium B.C. and in the Iron Age an indigenous culture was established. In 300 B.C. there were the first contacts with the Romans that contributed to the conquest of Taranto and the Appian Way was extended to Brindisi. Two colonies were founded: Potentia and Grumentum.
Following the fall of the Roman Empire it was under Byzantine rule until 568 with the Lombard domination that included it in the Duchy of Benevento. It returned under Byzantine rule in 968 with the establishment of the theme of Lucania, which disappeared with the conquest by the Normans leaving room for the birth of the Duchy of Puglia and Calabria of which Melfi was the capital. In 1231 the executioner of Basilicata was established by Frederick II who also issued the Constitution of Melfi.
Its borders began to coincide with the current ones, excluding Matera which was included in 1663, part of Melandro, Val d'Agri and Metapontino. During the Angevin domination there was a demographic decline that found a growth only in the middle of the XV century, with the exodus from the Greek and Albanian regions, after the fall of Constantinople.
In modern times Basilicata was strongly contested between French and Spanish. We are between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, during this period Melfi was heavily besieged by the French army.
In 1642 he managed to have institutional autonomy. In 1663 Matera was established as a capital that until then was part of the Land of Otranto. In this way they ensured better control. In 1735 it fell under the rule of the Bourbons of Naples and in 1799 the Republic of Naples was proclaimed.
Seven years later the French managed to seize the territory despite the resistance of the people and moved the province of Basilicata from Matera to Potenza. Having set up his headquarters in Potenza, Charles Antoine Manhès took a strong action against the brigandage between Calabria and Basilicata.
After the Unification of Italy in 1860, Basilicata was the first province of the continent of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to declare its inclusion in the unitary state. In fact Garibaldi reached Basilicata without meeting opposition and was joined by three thousand men of the brigade "Cacciatori Lucani".
Following the Unification of Italy, however, Basilicata did not see the change and the much desired improvement in fact it came to a revolt that assumed more and more
the features of a civil war. This war continued for the next ten years, affecting the provinces of the former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, causing thousands of deaths.
At the end of the 19th century, a political movement, Meridionalism, began to favour the south. Its most important members were: Francesco Saverio Nitti, Ettore Ciccotti, Raffaele Ciasca. Thanks to this action Basilicata had an important development, schools, aqueducts, the reclamation of some territories, the construction of roads.
During the fascist period Basilicata became a land that housed opponents of the regime, among them was Carlo Levi who described his experience in the novel "Christ stopped at Eboli", where he narrates the living conditions and backwardness of those territories.
In 1927 Matera became a province. In 1943 Matera was the first city in the Mezzogiorno to oppose the fascist regime, suffering reprisals together with Rionero. Cities such as Maratea, Potenza and Lauria were bombed by allies.
In 1944 there was a serious railway accident on the Battipaglia-Metaponto railway line where over 500 people died.
Immediately after the Second Great War there were protests related to the distribution of land among the peasants.
In November 1980 Basilicata was devastated by the Irpinia earthquake that caused 3,000 victims.
The Sassi di Matera in 1993 became a World Heritage Site under UNESCO protection.