Italy is known worldwide for the beauty of its ancient cities like Rome and Florence, for Tuscany’s enchanting hills and for the charming fishing villages on the Amalfi Coast. But who has ever heard of Basilicata? Characterised by wild unspoiled nature and century old traditions, Basilicata is one of the least known and poorest regions in southern Italy. It went largely unnoticed until Matera, the gem of Basilicata, was voted 2019’s European Capital of Culture.
Thanks to the award, Basilicata may now be on your vacation radar. If so, here are Airbnb’s top tips to help you get the most out of this quintessentially Italian region.
Apply for the Italian Sabbatical
The desire to take a sabbatical has grown over the years and Grottole, a small village near Matera, is ready to welcome guests in need of an extended stay. Airbnb is sponsoring a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for four people to move to the village for three months where they will learn Italian, take cooking lessons and volunteer for a local NGO with the aim of revitalising the town centre. Visit www.italiansabbatical.com to apply.
Stay in a traditional house inside the Sassi
No vacation in Europe’s Capital of Culture is complete without a trip to the Sassi – the ancient heart of Matera characterised by its cave dwellings. You can truly immerse yourself in the city by staying in one of the most romantic and charming corners of the Sassi. Complete with a sun-drenched terrace overlooking Matera, the Poet’s hideaway is the ideal base from which to explore the real Italy.
Discover Basilicata’s idyllic villages
Matera might be Europe’s Capital of Culture, but the ancient villages in the surrounding region also have much to offer. Not only are they beautiful in their own right, they also give visitors the chance to mingle with locals, discover age-old rural traditions and enjoy a truly authentic experience.
With less than 800 inhabitants, Castelmezzano is a small village inside the Lucanian Dolomites Park. The Magician’s Home is a unique stone-built house that was, as the name suggests, the home of a wizard. What better way to add a little magic to your trip?
Also known as “the village of monasteries”, Montescaglioso is a small village located on a top of a hill. Miramonte Holiday Home, with its panoramic balcony, offers an exceptional view of the valley. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy southern Italy’s beautiful sunsets.
Overlooking the striking terrain of the Calanchi Valley, Pisticci is a hill town 400 metres above sea level. Although the surrounding landscape is windswept and rugged, there is no need to sacrifice on comfort. The Home of the Antique Dealer offers rustic elegance, sweeping views and antiques galore.
Try an Airbnb Experience hosted by locals
There is no better way to experience the real Italy than to mingle with the locals and discover the secrets of Italian history and cuisine. Airbnb offers a wide range of Experiences in Italy, often in hidden corners like the fabulous village of Grottole.
The original extra virgin olive oil – Grottole
From a strong line of olive oil producers, Vincenzo is in love with the land he works on. He grew up in Grottole and you can always find him at the oil mill selecting the best olives to press with his dad Giuseppe. The father and son will teach you all the secrets of real Italian extra virgin olive oil production.
Beekeeping – Grottole
Learn how to manage a small beehive with Rocco, a hair stylist, saffron producer and beekeeper from Grottole. He’ll welcome you to a field full of native plants and wildflowers and show you all the tricks of hive management and honey harvesting.
The secrets of cheese – Montescaglioso
Since 1973, Giuseppe has produced homemade cheese using the ancient techniques of his town’s master cheesemakers. With him you will discover the alchemy involved in cheese-making and finally taste your very own mozzarella.
Photo journey – Matera
Through the lens of his camera, Michele will reveal a different side of Matera. It’s up to you if you want to be the model in front of the camera or the photographer in charge of your own shoot. Either way, you will finish the day with magical photo memories of your trip to this year’s European Capital of Culture.
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