30 September 2007

Lucania and Padre Pio

We spent last week visiting Lucania, the home region of Valerie’s great-grandparents. On a map you will find Basilicata but the people of that region prefer to be called Lucanians, reflecting their heritage. Basilicata was known as Lucania before the government changed the name over a hundred years ago.

We saw a lot, ate a lot and had a great time visiting with family and I am going to break-up our trip into a couple parts. This first part covers our first few days in Puglia and Lucania when we stopped by San Giovanni Rotondo on the Gargano Peninsula; this is the hometown of San Pio da Pietrelicna, commonly known as “Padre Pio”. We were there the day before his feast day and the town was packed with pilgrims, paying homage to this priest so strongly revered in southern Italy. The country side is dotted with olive groves and is a dry rocky area.

We then headed into the rolling hills of Lucania and spent the night in Genzano di Lucania. This is a town where most of the centro storico has been abandoned for newer housing after earthquakes over the years have weakened many buildings. Some people were starting to do work in the centro but there still is a lot to be done. There are many towns in this area with a similar history of abandoning the old for the new.

The countryside in this area is rolling hills covered with wheat fields that have recently been plowed interspersed with vineyards and olive groves. There are few towns and houses dotting the hill sides as well as little industry so the views are crisp and clear.

The next day we drove over to Castel del Monte, I think one of the most striking castles in Italy as it sits on a hill overlooking the countryside of Puglia. This is one of several built or used by Federico II in the 13th century in this part of Italy. The octagonal limestone shape is very unique and despite it remote location there were many visitors speaking a variety of languages.

We then headed on to Matera


Anonymous said...


That castle looked familiar...then I realized the Castel del Monte appears on the 0,01 euro coin, did you know that??


Bryan said...

I did not know that but dug out one and there it is. I admit I don't pay much attention to the 1 and 2 cent coins as they seem to have little use here.