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visiting the Basilicata region of southern Italy, also known as Lucania

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I just returned from a trip to the Basilicata (also known as Lucania) region of southern Italy. Here's what you'll find there if you go before it changes: Beautiful, rugged scenery; complex, culturally varied, interesting history; kind, hospitable, unjaded people; ancient folkways, pageantry, manners, and lifestyle still practiced in many parts; delicious, simple, robustly flavored cooking of wholesome natural food; in many parts (other than relatively famous places like Matera and Maratea), zero foreign tourists (except for you if you're fortunate enough to go there).

From May 21 to June 2 I was on an 11-day soulful tour of the region organized by a woman in New York, then went on a 4-day visit on my own to the small town of Accettura (birthplace of one of my grandparents), where I watched various phases "Il Maggio", also known as "La Festa di Sangiulino", a fascinating multi-day festa of ancient pagan origins centering around the "marriage" of two trees, one of which is carried for hours from the forest into town by 50 pairs of oxen, accompanied by folk musicians and people of all ages and walks of life from both town and surrounding countryside. (These days, this pagan festival is strangely combined with a more traditional patron saint celebration, which takes place on the 50th day after Easter.)

I'd recommend both the organized tour of Basilicata (Lucania) and the independent visit to Accettura during the week of the Sangiuliano festa. I'm posting my real e-mail address (for a change) because I'd be glad to answer any questions from people who might consider visiting Lucania.

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