My Bella Basilicata
Abriola. Draped over a hilltop at 1000 meters above sea level, Abriola is a picturesque town. It is the birthplace of Giovanni Todisco, Basilicata’s premier Renaissance artist who adorned churches and palaces around the region. There is a small ski area above town, and chestnut woods with hiking trails. St. Valentine is the patron saint, who is celebrated with a big street party every February 14.
Surnames from Abriola: Sarli, De Stefano, Dapoto, Triunfo, Larocca, Berterame, Lombardi.
Accettura. This town is completely immersed within the national park called Gallipoli Cognato Piccole Dolomiti Lucane, and you’ll have to travel a very squiggly road to arrive. Mountain pursuits and outdoors activities are the big draws here. But it is Il Maggio di Accettura that they are really known for, an ancient arboreal rite that is celebrated in conjunction with San Giuliano, the town's patron saint. It "marries" a young tree (called the cima) to a towering trunk (the maggio), which is carried from the Gallipoli forest about 15 km away. They are grafted together, hoisted up and danced around. The festa culminates when a man scales the tree and officializes the union. There is a museum in town dedicated to the ancient rites such as this one.
Surnames from Accettura:Piliero, Bartiluccio, Perriello, Sampogna, Morace, Trojano.
Acerenza. This town has a touch of elegance with its architecture. It was a Norman stronghold, and the bishop’s seat since the 4th century, which brought some wealth and status. It has one of the region’s most recognized cathedrals, built in 1059. Its feudal lords built beautiful palazzi and attracted dignitaries to the area, including the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, who left a likeness with the Segni family of Tuscan lords with estates in Acerenza, a portrait that came to light only a few years ago.
Surnames from Acerenza:Caruso, Saluzzi, Calitri, Pietragalla, Monaco, Fortunato
Albano di Lucania. This town sits in a commanding position and is visible from a great distance. Its name comes from the migration of Albanians to Lucania (ancient name for Basilicata) in the 1500s. It hosts a tidy historic center of cobbled streets. The town puts on a spectacular show based on old superstitions and belief in magic called Festa della Magia.
Surnames in Albano di Lucano: Tammone, Angerame, Lorenzo, Civita, Benedetto, Perrone, Soldo, Molfese, Cioffredi.
Aliano. Breathtaking scenery and unusual lunar-like landscapes surround Aliano. This lonely spot would have remained anonymous had the Fascits not decided to exile one of their critics here, but Carlo Levi turned his confinement into literary and artistic triumph, producing his best known writings and paintings from the experience. Today, Aliano is designated a “literary park” dedicated to the places Levi mentioned in Christ Stopped at Eboli. The medieval borgo is a tranquil stone quarter while the “new” town is active and attractive. Levi is buried in Aliano’s cemetery.
Surnames from Aliano: Scelzi, Pepe, Serra, Marino, Pisani, Grimaldi, Mattetelli.
Anzi. Ancient Roman town called Anxia, there is ample archeological evidence from this location. One of the highest towns in the region, its stair-stepped streets clutch the mountain. At the top is the lovely chapel of Santa Maria with beautiful frescoes by Todisco, along with a modern “castle” – an observatory, which takes advantage of the clear skies and lack of light pollution to look at the stars. There are breathtaking views of the countryside from here.
Surnames from Anzi:Sarli, Romano, Buchicchio, Cilibrizzi, Tortorelli, Castrignano, Lauletta.
Armento. There was a settlement here in the Iron Age, then the Romans came in and established a town. There was a ceramics center here. Now it is a tranquil town with lovely views above the valley of the Agri River.
Surnames from Armento:Ierardi (Gerardi), Pascarelli, Bavuso, Catoggio, Bello, Grande, Saponara.
Atella. Founded in the 1300s, there are still parts of the stone protective wall and one of the grand gates to town in place. It is in a fertile land with springs, with grains, olives and grapes growing here. The church of Santa Maria ad Nives has interesting Islamic decorations on the portal. There is an archeology park outside town.
Surnames from Atella: Colangelo, Telesca, Rinaldi, Zacagnino, Carriero, Di Biase.
Avigliano. North of Potenza, the town of Avigliano also takes in the territory where the massive castle of Frederick II, Lagopesole, is located. The old town of Avigliano has old palazzi with decorative stone portals and several churches. They hold to their religious and artisan traditions here. The town throws a huge festa to celebrate its food specialty, baccala, which draws crowds from all over the region.
Surnames from Avigliano:Sabia, Coviello, Pace, Mecca, Sileo, Possidente, Summa.