Italy Basilicata

Old Jan 24th, 2013, 01:29 AM
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Italy Basilicata

I am of Lucanian ancestry. My grandparents came from Roccanova,
Potenza in early 1900's. My grandmother was born in Sant' Archangelo.
Does anyone in this forum know this area? Has anyone been to Potenza?

I am trying to plan a trip to Italy this April with my eldest son. Basilicata is
our priority..to visit the land of my grandparents and to visit Matera.
I need help making an itinerary. ...suggestions on where to go, where to base
ourselves...how for many days..

We have 2 weeks in Italy. We will have a car.
I would also like to spend 4-5 days in Umbria and maybe visit the Marche and northern Puglia..

Does anyone have suggestions?

Thank you!
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 02:28 AM
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I've only driven through that area on my way Matera to Salerno. While the towns you are talking about are in Potenza province, but they are some distance from the city of Potenza itself. This is a very beautiful part of Basilicata, but the towns are located in mountainous areas, and it will not be easy to zip around quickly, even with a car. In early April, there still might be snow at some of these elevations.

Both towns you mention are very close to Aliano, which is where Carlo Levi was imprisoned and became the basis of the book, Christ Stopped at Eboli. You can also read a lot about this area of Basilicata is this book:

http://books.google.it/books/about/S...8C&redir_esc=y

Were I headed to the towns your are interested in, I might look to stay in this hotel rather than try to base in Potenza.

http://www.villadellago.it/location.html

You might find that Policoro has a lot of accommodations (although it will be dead in Spring) and is an easier drive to Roccanova or Sant'Arcangelo that being in Potanza would be.

Even with a car, I think it would be very tiring combining Umbria and especially Le Marche in a 2-week trip to Italy whose main focus is Basilicata. Le Marche is also mountainous, which means slow driving, and it is a solid 6-hour drive from Umbria to Basilicata.

The region is really quite fascinating, and unless you have special reasons for wanting to add central Italy this trip, you might have a much more rewarding visit focusing on Basilicata and going no further north than Naples or Rome, and Bari on the Adriatic side. Your target area is really quite far south in Italy, and in areas with good roads but not a huge amount of tourist infrastructure. You will find it slow going, and I wouldn't try to rush it.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 02:30 AM
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Hi Lisemarie - Some time ago there was an excellent post about Basilicata - started by Carol/CMT. Here's the link:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...as-lucania.cfm

I'm sure you'll find some useful things there ...

Steve
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 02:43 AM
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Here is a fairly simple farmhouse offering lodgings near Sant'Arcangelo, and if its owners speak fairly good English, you might find them a real asset in helping you while staying in that area.

http://www.scardaccione.com/en/welcome-to-the-farm.html
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 03:01 AM
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Potenza is a tidy little town built on a mountain top, so it has a bunch of public lifts (elevators) and some friendly people. Due to the folds in the land it has two railway stations and I have used the train to tour Basilicata. Not a bad way to get around.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 03:33 AM
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A very dear friend of mine comes originally from Marconia and i have visited Pisticci, Matera, Policoro and Bernalda
I loved the area, the people are charming and i would go back again in no time.
I was there in September and enjoyed the endless sandy beach very much... Very much to my surprise, the beach was empty
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 08:57 AM
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bilbo: I didn’t realize Basilicata was doable by train. Good to hear it is. Which station would one use for staying in the centro area of Potenza, and how to get to there from the station?
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 04:57 PM
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"Seasons in Basilicata" is a wonderful book. The author makes you feel like you are there. I am now in the season of summer.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 07:20 PM
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We have taken a trip to Matera, where my family is from, and we loved it. Fabulous food and scenery. I hope you can include it in your trip.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 07:35 PM
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Holly - There are some regional train lines in addition to Trenitalia that work for some places. Their websites also have bus connections.

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrovie_Appulo_Lucane

http://www.fal-srl.it/it/index.html

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrovie_Calabro_Lucane

http://www.ferroviedellacalabria.it/storia.html
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 11:19 PM
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Either, and you walk up hill, it is all pretty small but very twisted. The train from Naples comes in to southerly station, (after running through a range of mountains) and then the line heads down towards the south coast through Basilicata. The station to the north goes north (obviously) and also East to Gravina.
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 09:33 AM
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My grandparents came from the town of Moliterno, In the province of Potenza. Ten years ago, my sister and I took our mom, age 81, to visit. We took the train to Salerno and picked up a car. We spent one night on the way at Paestum. It was two hours from Salerno to Moliterno. Long story short, we found many cousins in the town, had lunch with them etc. Looking back, I wish we had spent several days there instead of only one. I think a car is the best way to travel to these very small towns. We then drove the Almalfi Coast, dropping the car in Sorrento. We used the train to get to Rome. You may want to see if the town has a website or Facebook page. Or get tourist info.

With only 2 weeks, you could include the Almalfi coast, and finish up in Rome.
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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We are rethinking..
We definitley do not want to be driving in the mountains when there is a chance of snow/icy roads.
We have to concentrate on making our travel arrangements to Basilicata. If there is time, we then can also go elsewhere ...
My son has travel constraints. I have a choice of either the last half of April or the last half of May going into June.
The town of our ancestors is Roccanova.
Does anyone have an idea of what to expect weather-wise then?
If I can, I would like to avoid hot weather...I rather travel when it's cool. But I definitely want to avoid slippery roads.
I checked a world weather site for monthly averages... I don't know where they get their figures from...but the statistics are the same for both Roccanova & Potenza which is north.

Once I pick which month, then we can book our flights. And then figure out which towns to see, & where to base ourselves.

I am getting excited. I finished "Seasons in Basilicata"...and have ordered 2 more books about the culture of the region.

Thank you all for your help!
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 10:22 AM
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Dear Lisemarie- I checked a map for Roccanova. It is not that far from where we visited. What helped me was getting advice from family members and friends who had been to the area. Many of the families in the town I grew up in , in central California, came from this area, so many have visited and had great advice. If you can do the same with any family and friends, it can be very helpful. I think late April or late May would be great. Of course May would be nicer and not too hot. Moliterno, my grandparents town, is at an elevation of 3,600 ft and a summer sports center.
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 12:44 PM
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I suggest you try asking your weather questions on the TripAdvisor message boards for Basilicata. Regarding spring weather, it might depend on where you are coming from and what roads you would be taking. You might not have any risk of problem taking an alternate route, or taking a train part of the route.

I agree with your decision to make Basilicata the priority. The poster who described above visiting the area for a day because of ancestral roots and then regretting not having planned to spend much more time there is a very common story. A lot of people don't realize they have living family members until they arrive, or even if they don't, it is so rewarding to spend time away from the tourist-attraction areas of Italy (it really is a different world, and one fast disappearing) that it is tremendously enjoyable.
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 12:53 PM
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I wanted to add that while you are in the vicinity of Matera it is exceptionally rewarding to pay a visit to the Crypt of the Original Sin. Because it is located about 10 miles outside the city, you must make a reservation on line to meet with a guide who take you there and unlock the crypt for you. There is an online reservation system.

Since you are reading so much about the area, you might find it interesting to know that the legacies of Carlo Levi and his view of the region are a real mixed bag for the locals. Much of what Levi and his admirers described to the world about Basilicata was very much colored by their own overall political thoughts. The "reform" of the region that was the result of Levi's descriptions created its own hardships for people. I think it is only in recent years that the people of the region of reclaimed their own story. You will experience a variety of points of view if you have the opportunity to talk to people who are native to Basilicata, and if they open up to you.
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 03:47 PM
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Thank you all!

Would the latter part of May be sweater weather in the mountains?

Unfortunately I do not know anyone in Basilicata or anyone in the US [still living] who has been there.
My family came to NY in 1906..then went up to Montreal in 1913. I don't think I have ever met anyone from Basilicata.
When in Italy, I always make it a point to mention Basilicata/Lucania when someone asks me where my origins are...but I have never met anyone from there even in Italy. I have been tempted to get to a mike in a crowded room just to ask!

So, do you think the last part of May is a better time to travel there?
My son would fly in from LAX; me, from JFK or EWR.
probably to FCO.
From there, should we rent a car & drive down.
or.. take a train as far as Salerno & then rent a car?

How many days total do you suggest in Basilicata? in Matera? I don't want to rush it!
Then we can expand our travels to Apulia & points north. We will have 2-3 weeks total.

And where do you suggest we base ourselves for Roccanova? Do you have a recommendation for Matera? I do not require 'luxury' just a clean & safe place....cheaper too! I rather spend on good food!
Thanks again,
Ciao!
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 04:31 PM
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I would start with the agriturismo I linked to above. It's in Sant'arcangelo.

Look at a Google map and you will see that Roccanova sits at the edge of an extremely mountainous area that is a national park. If you zoom in and look the roads between Roccanova and Potenza, you will see that they squiggle a lot. That means they are mountain switchbacks.

If you look at the roads between Roccanova and Sant'arcangelo, you will see they are not so squiqqly.

The other suggestions for lodgings I made above -- near the lake and near Policoro -- were also based on having access to your ancestor's part of Basilicata without needing to drive over mountain switchbacks constantly. However, even in late May, the lakes area and the seaside will be very, very, very quiet.

In May, the town of Accetura has a tremendous May festival, very folkloric. You might want to go.

http://www.landscapeproperties.com/i...ls-and-events/

I drove through Basilicata the second week of May and had no problems. I think if you don't go climbing mountain peaks, you will be fine.
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 04:38 PM
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PS: I think you want to stay in Basilicata as close as you can to where your family came from and eat the same food, and see what the daily life is like. Because just like you've never met anybody who comes from there, even in Italy, that means other people don't go there. So these places are really intensely local and have their own ways. They have their own recipes. They make their own wine and sausage. I don't think you find a hotel in Roccanova, but you can find places in Sant'arcangelo or around the nearby lake. That way you can go up and have lunch or shop in the morning markets. Go to mass (which might be in the evening.)

I'm sure you'll find it interesting. The spicy dried peppers from that area are quite famous. Easy to bring lots home in your suitcase.
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