Basilicata (UK: / bəˌsɪlɪˈkɑːtə /, US: / -ˌzɪl - /, Italian: ), also known by its ancient name Lucania (/ luːˈkeɪniə /, also US: / luːˈkɑːnjə /, [ 6] Italian: ), is a region of southern Italy, on the border with Campania in the west, Puglia (Puglia) in the north and east and Calabria in the south. It also has two coasts: a 30 km stretch on the Tyrrhenian Sea between Campania and Calabria and a longer coast along the Gulf of Taranto between Calabria and Puglia. The region can be thought of as Italy's "instep", with Calabria acting as the "toe" and Puglia the "heel". The region covers around 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq m) and in 2010 had a population slightly less than 600,000. The regional capital is Potenza. The region is divided into two provinces: Potenza and Matera.
Basilicata is an emerging tourist destination, thanks in particular to the city of Matera, whose historic district I Sassi became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and has been designated European Capital of Culture 2019. The New York Times has Basilicata ranked third in its list of "52 Places to visit in 2018", calling it "Italy's best kept secret".
The name probably derives from "basilikos" (in Greek: βασιλικός), which refers to the basileus, the Byzantine emperor, who ruled the region for 200 years, from 536/552 to 571/590 and from 879 to 1059. Others claim that the name may refer to the Basilica of Acerenza which held judicial power in the Middle Ages.
During the Greek and Roman times, Basilicata was known as Lucania, which probably derives from "leukos" (Greek: λευκός), which means "white", from "lykos" (Greek: λύκος), which means "wolf", or from the Latin word "lucus", which means "sacred wood".
Basilicata covers a large part of the southern Apennines, between the Ofanto river in the north and the Pollino massif in the south. It borders to the east with much of the depression of the Bradano river, crossed by numerous streams and which slopes towards the southeastern coastal plain of the Ionian Sea. The region also has a short south-west coast on the Tyrrhenian side of the peninsula.
Basilicata is the most mountainous region of southern Italy, with 47% of its area of 9,992 km2 (3,858 square miles) covered by mountains. Of the remaining area, 45% is hilly and 8% is made up of plains. Notable mountains and mountain ranges include the Pollino massif, the Lucanian Dolomites, Monte Vulture, Monte Alpi, Monte Carmine, Li Foj Mountains and Toppa Pizzuta.
The geological characteristics of the region include the volcanic formations of Monte Vulture and seismic faults in the Melfi and Potenza areas to the north and around Pollino to the south. Much of the region was devastated by the Basilicata earthquake of 1857. More recently, the 1980 Irpinia earthquake destroyed many cities in the northwest of the region.
Mountainous terrain combined with weak rocks and soil types makes landslides prevalent. While the lithological structure of the substrate and its chaotic tectonic deformation predispose the slope to landslides, this problem is aggravated by the lack of woodland. In fact, in common with many other Mediterranean regions, Basilicata was once rich in forests, which were largely cut down and made sterile during the period of Roman rule.
The variable climate is influenced by three coasts (Adriatic, Ionian and Tyrrhenian) and by the complexity of the physical characteristics of the region. In general, the climate is continental in the mountains and in the Mediterranean along the coasts.
The first traces of human presence in Basilicata date back to the late Paleolithic, with finds of Homo erectus. Late Cenozoic fossils, found in Venosa and other locations, include elephants, rhinos and species now extinct like a saber-toothed cat of the genus Machairodus. Examples of Mesolithic rock art have been discovered near Filiano. From the fifth millennium, people stopped living in caves and built settlements of huts up to the rivers that led inland (Tolve, Tricarico, Aliano, Melfi, Metaponto). In this period, anatomically modern humans lived by growing cereals and animal husbandry (Bovinae and Caprinae). The Chalcolithic sites include the Latronico caves and the funerary discoveries of the Cervaro cave near Lagonegro.
The first known stable market center of the Apennine culture on the sea, consisting of huts on the promontory of Capo la Timpa, near Maratea, dates back to the Bronze Age.
Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilicata