Basilicata: Authentic Italy ~ Book Review

Announcing My New Book, Basilicata: Authentic Italy
Author Karen Haid holding her book Basilicata: Authentic Italy

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.”


brown cave with over-view of city
View Of Matera From A Cave Pic Credits: Unsplash

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.

The Alleys Of Melfi, Potenza Pic Credit: Unsplash

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.

Italy’s Abandoned Churches ~ What Happens to Them?

Small abandoned Church in Tuscany

I wrote this post nearly four years ago but thought it interesting enough to share again…

While driving through Tuscany I couldn’t help but pull off the road to snap a shot of this old abandoned church. It was small but very ornate. As I surveyed the facade, I wondered how many abandoned churches there were in Italy. As the stronghold of the Catholic Church, it’s not surprising that Italy has thousands of churches. I read recently that it is estimated at about 26,000, but I’m unsure about the reliability of the source. Read more

Why I Love Southern Italy

Baia, just north of Naples, combines antiquity with the modern
Baia, just north of Naples, combines antiquity with modern

When I dream of Italy, I see myself wandering along the shimmering Bay of Naples.  A mountainous backdrop rises up to meet a baby blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds. I inhale the salty sea smell mingled with driting aromas from restaurants passed along the way.  A gentle breeze tugs at my hair as I watch several white boats skim the water’s surface, leaving a bubbling trail behind them. An old castle fortress stands high on a hilltop, its many levels adding dimension to the landscape.


My life has been blessed with the good fortune to travel to Italy several times, and I am passionate about every region. Italy never ceases to fascinate me and each time I visit, I feel pulled deeper into its history, culture, exotic beauty and genuine people. A return visit is always on my mind.

Although the south of Italy is poorer than the north, to me it is the real Italy. It is true that transportation by train or bus can be slower and sometimes undependable, but to really see Italy and experience the culture it is essential to leave oneself a bit vulnerable. Read more

Good Government Vs Bad Government; Lorenzetti’s 14th Century Depiction Remains a Timeless Warning

I love to spend time observing artwork in Italy, from ancient frescos and sculptures up through the Renaissance masters. One of my very favorites is in the Tuscan town of Siena. On the main piazza named the Campo, stands the medieval Palazzo Pubblico, the old town hall. Inside is the Sala della Pace (Hall of Peace) also known as the Sala dei Nove (Salon of Nine or Council Room). Painted on the walls are several different fresco scenes by famous artist Ambrogio Lorenzetti: Allegory of Good Government, Allegory of Bad Government, Effects of Bad Government in the City, Effects of Good Government in the City and Effects of Good Government in the Country. I’ve found these frescoes accurate and timeless in their deptiction of daily life under wise and virtuous rulership as opposed to a self-centered, corrupt, and tyrannical government. Read more

Meet Sandra Giusti, Arezzo’s Gracious Ambassador

2017-10-19 10.06.38

The picturesque Tuscan town of Arezzo greeted us with blue sky and sunshine on a recent October afternoon as we pulled into the parking lot next to the medieval wall that still encircled the town. Across the street, I saw a tall, elegant young woman with long dark hair who I guessed was Sandra Giusti, our tour guide. Her company, Arezzo Guide, was born from her great passion and love for her hometown and surrounding villages. We had corresponded previously only by email up until now so this was our first meeting. I was excited to meet her and discover what made Arezzo one of the most popular places in Tuscany to experience. Read more