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On arrival into Matera in Basilicata, make your own way to the hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Matera - 1° Overnight
After breakfast at your hotel, we suggest to take a guided tour (price on request) among I Sassi di Matera (the Stones of Matera), considered World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1993. It's said to be the third oldest towns in the world.
The "Sassi" are an unique example of rocky settlement. They form a town completely carved out of the rock, a network of caves superimposed one upon the other that were adapted to become homes and where its inhabitants have lived since the Palaeolithic Age.
The guided tour is developed through a singular and complex path within the characteristic districts of Sassi.
Starting from the area called "il Piano" (Flat), upper level of urban development on top of Sassi, we head along paths, alleys and stairs, where going back in time, it's possible to relive remote sensations.
A historical introduction about the town, analyzing the different phases of urban development of Matera, will let you to understand and deepen the most significant aspects of living in the Sassi, also in reference to those aspects that determined, over the centuries, the changing of socio-economic conditions of the territory with the gradual, slow and inexorable decline and abandonment of the Sassi area.
During the tour, you will take numerous stops in-depth, among which are included entrances to some interest buildings such as rock churches, cave houses, water collection system, cellars dug into the caves, useful to understand some aspects that determined the lifestyle into the Sassi.
At the end of the tour will be offered a free tasting of typical local products of Basilicata.
Matera - 2° Overnight
After breakfast at your hotel, drive south to Metaponto with its crystal clear sea, long sandy golden beaches, thick pine forests and rows of eucalyptus as far as the eye can see and large tourist complexes. Metaponto isn't just a famous bathing place along the Ionian coast: it's also the cradle of the ancient Magna Graecia where the mathematician Pythagoras lived (and died), Hannibal landed and where Spartacus passed through with his army of rebel slaves.
Here, you'll spend your next two days and where you'll visit the ancient cities of the Magna Graecia: Metaponto, Policoro and Novi Siri.
The archaeological site of Metapontum situated in the comune of Bernalda (where is also a beautiful castle with two towers of the fifteenth century). Here you can visit the theater, the roman fort, the greek temple of Apollo, Aphrodite and Demeter and the Palatine Tables, a doric temple of the sixth century BC, dedicated to the goddess Hera. Nearby there is the Lido of Metaponto with low-lying and sandy beaches shaded by two large pine forests.
Policoro contends with Metaponto for the trophy of the most crowded bathing place of the Ionian coast in Basilicata. Also here you will find large sandy beaches; in its clear waters, t is not unusual to see some sea turtles. A short walk from the town of Policoro, is situated the archaeological site of Heraclea, a Greek settlement of the sixth century BC, various relics are kept in the Archaeological Museum of Siris.
At the end of the second day, if you desire we suggest to take a tour to the town of Tursi with its characteristic arabic neighborhood (the Rabatana that has been the first urban settlement of the village), and Pisticci wuth its "casedde" in other wards small white houses with red-pointed roofs.
Ionian Coast area - 3°/4° Overnight
Today you will travel west into the inland of Basilicata. If you take the statale SS176 (or SS407), a magical and spectral ghost town will appear in front of you. Craco, abandoned due to natural disasters, is a town perched on a very steep summit overlooking the Cavone Valley. The abandonment has made Craco a tourist attraction and a popular filming location: included The Passion of the Christ, 007 - Quantum of Solace and the italian film Basilicata Coast to Coast.
For visiting without any type of risk, the ruins of the houses with their collapsed roofs, windows with broken glass, uneven stairs, deserted alleys and for reaching the castle on the top of the hill, we suggest to take a guided tour (on request). Craco is definitely an exciting experience not to be missed.
Leaving behind Craco, drive towards Aliano, you will see that the wild landscape of the Luciana's hinterland will change suddenly: within a few kilometers you will find yourself among the "calanchi" (badlands), steep clay slopes created by erosion of water and wind. Aliano, isolated among these ridges, is the town where in 30's Carlo Levi was exiled, and here he wrote the book Christ Stopped at Eboli (Italian: Cristo si è fermato a Eboli).
You will be surprised even about the houses of the old center, built with small windows that look like eyes, stairs and doors that look like noses and mouths: according to an ancient superstition, their disquieting features keep away the evil eye!
In the afternoon drive to Guardia Perticara a town built entirely with local stones, the dwellings are perched one above the other and decorated with arches and wrought-iron balconies; it's included in the list of the Italy's most beautiful villages (in italian: I Borghi più belli d'Italia), an association that notes small towns of strong artistic and historical interest, as well as the borgo of Pietrapertosa, just little further north along the route.
Pietrapertosa is a village situated near the picturesque peaks of Dolomiti Lucane and shows itself as a ancient village that has managed to preserve a medieval appearance over the years mainly in the oldest part located at the foot of the Castle, which still has today the ancient Saracen name of Arabat and characterized by narrow streets and blind alleys. The typical single-family houses, placed top-down in line, blend perfectly with the ground-level and become integral part of the surrounding environment so that often the rock assumes the function of wall of the dwellings.
Pietrapertosa - 5° Overnight
The arrival at the small village is rather unusual because you enter across a tunnel bored into the rock after passing a spectacular gorge. Leaving behind the tunnel, Castelmezzano appears like a small nativity scene perched and protected by the Dolomites Lucane that rise in its background. Over time the rain and wind have carved strange shapes into the sandstone to which the popular tradition has given special names, in fact with particular conditions of light and shadows, the Dolomites look like a "beak of the owl", the "snapdragon" the "anvil" and "golden eagle".
The urban structure of Castelmezzano is typically medieval; a concentric built-up area of houses with roofs in sandstone slabs embedded in a rocky basin. Walking through the historical center is particularly picturesque due to the presence of buildings nestled in the rock, for the many steep stairs that wind among the narrow alleys and inviting you to climb on the high summits above where you can enjoy the stunning view of the Dolomites Lucane. Just this connection well-balanced between the residential area and the natural components, respecting the surrounding environment, has allowed Castelmezzano to be defined as one of "city-nature" and included in the list of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
Further north, there is Acerenza, the "Cathedral City", situated on a cliff over 800 metres high, overlooking the whole surrounding territory, the valley of Bradano. Acerenza is known and visited for its important Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and San Canio and for other points of interests. The Cathedral, in Romanesque-Gothic style, has a essential and austere simplicity.
In addition to the Cathedral, don't miss the charming and picturesque old village of Aceranza, a maze of alleyways that still preserve almost intact its medieval structure. Due to its strategic position that the village has always had in its history, it could not be a medieval castle, recently renovated.
Last town for today is Venosa well-known especially to be the birthplace of the latin poet of the "Carpe Diem", Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace). Venosa offers tourists many important and monumental images of a glorious past. From Roman times you can visit the Archaeological Park that preserves a thermal complex of the II century DC, a impressive amphitheatre for its foundations and some Domus. Of the medieval period you can admire the abbey church of SS. Trinità.
Walking through the old city center of Venosa we suggest you to visit the Cathedral of St. Andrew, some fountains and wash houses and the so-called house of Horace. At the far end of the historical center stands the Aragonese castle. It is now home to the National Museum of Venosa, inaugurated in 1991, with ancient Roman and other findings up to the 9th century.
Venosa - 6° Overnight
After breakfast at your hotel, drive north to the old town of Melfi, strategically located on a hill at the foot of Mount Vulture, chosen by Frederick II as the seat of one of his castles, where in 1231 he proclaimed the "Constitutions Melfitane". The Constitutions formed the basis of Sicilian law for the next six centuries.
The castle is the home to the important Museo Nazionale Archeologico Melfese, with artifacts found in the area, from prehistoric times and all periods of settlement including the Daunian, Samnite, Lucanian and Roman periods. Continue the visit of Melfi with the cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta rebuilt in Baroque style in the early eighteen century. The visit ends with the "door Venosina", an ancient entrance to the city of Melfi when the town was a fortified citadel.
After lunch we suggest a guided visit to the castle of Lagopesole, attributed to Frederick II that was probably built between 1242 and 1250, attended by the emperor to practice falconry. The name derives from the presence of the lake near the town of the same name (Lacus Pensilis), dried up at the beginning of the twentieth century. A distinguishing feature of this castle from all the others attributed to Frederick II is the presence within it of a real church (not a simple chapel) in an austere Romanesque style.
Melfi - 7° Overnight