Basilicata's regional capital, Potenza, has been ravaged by earthquakes (the last in 1980) and, as the highest town in the Basilicata region, it broils in summer and shivers in winter. You may find yourself passing through as it's a major transport hub. Potenza's few sights are in the old centre, at the top of the hill.
The Appennino Lucano (Lucanian Apennines) bite Basilicata in half like a row of jagged teeth. Sharply rearing up south of Potenza, they protect the lush Tyrrhenian coast and leave the Ionian shores gasping in the semi-arid heat. The area is protected by the Parco Nazionale Dell’Appennino Lucano, the newest of Italy's 24 national parks inaugurated in 2007.
About 70km north of Potenza, pretty Venosa used to be a thriving Roman colony, owing much of its prosperity to being a stop on the Appian Way. It was also the birthplace of the poet Horace in 65 BC. The main reason to come here is to see the remains of Basilicata's largest monastic complex.
In stark contrast to the dramatic Tyrrhenian coast, Basilicata's Ionian coast is a listless, flat affair dotted with large tourist resorts. A brief respite is provided by the Greek ruins at Metaponto (known as Metapontum to the Greeks), which, with their accompanying museums, bring alive the enormous influence of Magna Graecia in southern Italy.
Castelmezzano & Pietrapertosa
The two mountaintop villages of Castelmezzano (elevation 985m) and Pietrapertosa (elevation 1088m), ringed by the Lucanian Dolomites are spectacular. They are Basilicata's highest villages and are often swathed in cloud, making you wonder why anyone would build here – in territory best suited to goats.