Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Basilicata
Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Lying between the toe and the heel of the boot of Italy, Basilicata is the instep. This is one of the most mountainous regions of Italy, and is home to the Pollino National Park, the biggest natural park in the country. The Sassi of Matera, the most outstanding troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean, are included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. This is also one of the areas colonised by the ancient Greeks, part of what we now call Magna Grecia. The Provinces in Basilicata are: Matera and Potenza.

Archaeology & History Sites in Basilicata

Castle of Melfi

Founded in the 11th century by the Normans at a strategic point that allowed passage between Apulia and Campania, Melfi Castle are one of the most beautiful in Basilicata and the site of significant historical events. Five synods, known as the Councils of Melfi, occurred inside it. In the third of these, Pope Urban II called the first crusade to the Holy Land in 1089. Frederick II promulgated the famous Constitutions of Melfi in 1231, the legislative code of the kingdom of Sicily. Over time it was enlarged and renovated, achieving its multi-styled appearance and the ten imposing towers surrounding it. While inside, you can visit the National Archaeological Museum of Melfese, which houses the splendid Roman sarcophagus of Rapolla.

Metaponto Archaeological Park

Once among the leading cities of Magna Graecia, today it is one of the most important archaeological sites in Basilicata. Coming from different parts of the Peloponnese the Greeks founded the city in the second half of the 7th century BC. It was here Pythagoras that lived and founded his schools in the 5th century BC. Metaponto sided with Pyrrhus in the 280 BC war against Rome, and gave refuge to Hannibal in 207 BC. The archaeological area consists of two points approximately 4 km apart. The first is that of the Tavole Palatine, the remains of a 6th century BC Doric temple dedicated to Hera, of which 15 columns remain standing. The second is that of the urban area, where the ruins of the agora, the theatre, and four temples are visible.

Venosa Archaeological Park

The archaeological site on the edge of Venosa allows visitors to explore the town’s Roman and medieval history. Roman remains include town houses, baths and an amphitheatre. The early medieval period can be seen in the ruins of a 5th century Episcopal complex, and the skeleton of ‘l’Incompiuta’, an unfinished church. Founded by Latin peoples, the settlement was conquered by the Romans in 291 BC, at the end of the Third Samnite War. From a small colony it grew to around 20,000 inhabitants people, largely because of its location on the Appian Way. This was the birthplace of one of the most famous poets of ancient times, Quintus Horatius Flaccus.

Museums & Art Galleries in Basilicata

National Archaeological Museum of Venosa

Using a variety of display techniques, the permanent exhibition is divided into six themes, each exploring a different period of the history of Venosa. After an introduction to the history of the museum, a further five galleries focus on five periods of the town’s history. These include the pre-Roman period, the Latin colony of Venusia, the Roman Imperial period, Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The displays for each period contain important artefacts from the town, including a floor mosaic and associated wall frescoes from a Roman townhouse.

National Museum of Matera – Palazzo Lanfranchi

Inaugurated in May 2003, the Palazzo Lanfranchi is home to the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art of Basilicata. It was established to showcase the region’s art, and to a cultural centre for the entire region. You can explore the museum through three collections, including works of sacred art from Basilicata between the Middle Ages and the 18th century, contemporary art with a selection of paintings by Carlo Levi and Luigi Guerricchio, and the Camillo d’Errico collection, formed in the 19th century with over 300 works from the 17th to 18th century of the Neapolitan school.