Balvano. Sitting in a dramatic setting, there are ruins of a castle from the 10th century. The monastery of Sant’Antonio, which dates to 1591, is adorned with frescoes and the quiet cloister has 22 lunettes.
Surnames from Balvano:Simone, Matturro, Pacella, Teta, Bovino, Turturiello, Di Stasio.
Baragiano. The old town was mostly rebuilt, but Baragiano still has some old buildings with pretty portals. It keeps its place in history with its archeological park Basileus, named for the king of an ancient people whose tomb was found here. The rail line made Baragiano an important stop between Salerno and Potenza.
Surnames from Baragiano:Satriano, Losasso, Russo, Gliubizzi, Cocina, Margiotta.
Banzi. Ancient history crossed through here when Hannibal battled Roman warriors in the Second Punic War, 208 BC. Named Bantia Civitas, it remained at a crossroads of trade and travelers for centuries. Excavations uncovered several necropoli and remains of the original Roman settlement.
Surnames from Banzi: Giacomino, Palma, De Bonis, Nicolo’, Garramone, Simone, Carcuro.
Barile. A center of wine making, Barile was established by Albanians fleeing the Ottoman invasion in the 1500s. There is a pretty church and a baroque fountain in the piazza to give flair to the town. It is best known for its levels of grottoes carved into the hillside, where wine is made is stored, even today.
Surnames from Barile:Grimolizzi, Paternoster, Caccavo, Rabasco, Volomino, Beluscio.
Bella. The name describes its setting in the hills, between Muro Lucano and Baragiano. The castle was rebuilt and while the exterior isn’t much to look at, inside it retains its stone rooms and charm. It is used for special events and weddings. The tidy historic center of pastel stucco houses is pretty and townsfolk are quick to give a friendly welcome.
Surnames from Bella:Carlucci, Sabato, Troiano, Sansone, Stolfi, Colangelo, Doino.
Bernalda. The twin-towered castle of Bernalda looks out at the Ionian Sea and the Basento Valley like its still guarding the town. Bernalda bustles with life with its cafes, shops and restaurants, while the old-timers hang out in the piazza and talk politics. The cathedral is dedicated to San Bernardo and the feast day celebrating him is a grand costumed affair. If the festivals and weddings of Bernalda seem familiar to you, it might be that you’ve seen them recreated in Francis Ford Coppola’s movies; his family came from here and he has a classy hotel in Bernalda.
Surnames from Bernalda:Russo, Gallitelli, Grieco, Viggiano, Petrocelli, Favale.
Brienza. Brienza keeps its medieval footprint at the base of the castle, which tops the town’s landscape. It is dramatically lit at night and is a spectacular sight. Legend holds that the castle originally had 365 rooms, one for each day of the week. The churches have lovely artwork. The town hall is in a former convent. Brienza was under the noble Caracciolo family from Naples.
Surnames from Brienza: Lopardo, Collazzo, Scelzo, Palladino, Macchia, Molinaro, Varallo.
Brindisi Montagna. (Not to be confused with seaside Brindisi in Puglia.) A well-maintained historic center spans the crest, presided over by the shell of its ruined castle. The forest of the Grancia is a wooded preserve with a cultural center, where the swashbuckling play about the briganti takes place in a natural amphitheater every summer. The impressive production uses the castle as a pivotal set backdrop.
Surnames from Brindisi Montagna:Allegretti, Larocca, Rago, Vaccaro, Benedetto, Pecora, Sabia.