Karen Haid kept me spellbound as I recently finished reading her fascinating book, Basilicata: Authentic Italy. Here she shares her intimate experiences throughout the southern region of Italy, getting to know the culture, the land, and the warm hearted people who occupy it in a deep and personal way. Clearly a place of many dimensions, Basilicata weaves a mysterious shroud about it that only those who seek authenticity and feel deep respect for this ancient land are able to reap its rewards. As Karen points out, if one is seeking a destination with an “ancient Greek temple, a medieval castle perched on a hill, a cave with early Christian paintings, a sandy beach, or a lone, windswept pine on the top of a snowy mountain,” you will find them all in Basilicata. As one of Italy’s southernmost regions, Basilicata is the instep of the Italian boot.
“As I travel, I try to understand why a place looks like it does, the people act like they do and what makes it all tick.”
When I hear the word Basilicata, I think of ancient Matera with its unique history and cave churches. It has caught the attention of film producers from around the world. As Karen describes the town, I mentally retrace my own steps on a past visit throughout the village, up and down alleyways, winding through the piazza with its Romanesque Cathedral and then beyond, to capture a sweeping panorama of the city of rock. Although Basilicata is best known for the location of Matera, Karen passionately points out the regions many other attractions.
“I begin my expedition into the heart of Southern Italy at the center of what was once the “great Lucania,” the area of Potenza.”
She begins her experience on a train to Potenza, the capital of Basilicata. From here, it is pure adventure as she meets the people and engages in cultural discoveries. Her in-depth research and descriptive writing engaged me throughout the book. Since reading it, I have a list of places that, I hope, I will see one day soon. Through Karen’s travels, I’ve discovered a castle perched on a cliff to explore, two of the most beautiful villages in Italy displaying their “rich and harmonious architecture,” that I’d love to see, and Italy’s largest national park that would be an adventure to discover. I’m eager to try the tagliata podolica, steak of the regional cattle, followed by the bitter Amaro Lucano to engage my senses.
In conclusion, I felt like I was right beside Karen as we walked this multifaceted land of mountains and hillsides, villages, and festivals. Rich in traditions and heritage, I highly recommend Basilicata: Authentic Italy to anyone. Whether you are traveler or armchair enthusiast, you will enjoy the journey. Italy’s Basilicata is truly a land of great beauty and distinction. Karen has another book that is just as engaging, Calabria: The Other Italy, about Basilicata’s neighboring region.