Basilicata is a small region located in southern Italy. Also known as Lucania, a name that derives from the ancient population of Lucani, now has approximately 575,000 inhabitants. Although it is not one of the smallest regions in the Bel Paese, not everybody knows this marvelous land, a treasure held in the wonderful frame that sea and other regions, with an unquestionable beauty, create around. Basilicata is one of the poorest Italian regions, but despite its economic problems, it has managed to keep a mysterious charm and pristine environment over the years. One of the most important natural elements of the region is Mount Vulture (1326 m), an ancient volcano which has been turned off. The Vulture has a magnificent environmental heritage, where the places of natural type that consists of forests, springs, streams and sub-mountain grazing areas.
The Monticchio area, where one can admire two lakes that exist within the craters of the old volcano, is undeniably one of the major tourist and scientific point of interest. Each of the lakes has a different color: the Lago Piccolo has a greenish whereas the Lago Grande takes on an olive green appearance.
The igneous nature of the soil and the subsoil, besides making it particularly rich of mineral waters, allows the plantation of the grapevine and the olive tree. The most appreciated DOC wine in the land is the Aglianico del Vulture, from the name of the vine variety of Greek roots Ellenico, widespread in Avellino and Benevento province too, but which its lava matrix of the Vulture’s lands lends its body and particular organoleptic features, different from other types of Aglianico. Among the many wine houses in the area we can mention Le cantine del notaio, a firm born in the year 1998 in Rionero in Vulture as a will from the notary Gerardo Giuratrabocchetti. Among its best wines we remember L’atto, Il sigillo, and La firma.
One of the culinary specialties of the region is definitely the Baccalà with Peperoni Cruschi, in other words salted and cured cod cooked in water and served with peppers typical of the region. The peppers are drained out and crisped (cruschi), fried in oil for only 30/40 seconds.
In the early twentieth century, many Italians left their country to seek fortune abroad, some immigrated to Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and France; many others left for the United States. Among them were many Lucani from Basilicata, who embarked with cardboard suitcases and only a few dollars. How many famous Americans are descendants of these immigrants from Basilicata? Well, more than you might imagine!
Francis Ford Coppola: his grandparents started from Bernalda, a small town of Lucania, at the beginning of the last century. Coppola has a great relationship with his native land (is an honorary citizen of Bernalda) and her daughter, filmmaker Sofia Coppola, who decided to get married in the small town of Lucania.
Danny DeVito: belonging to an original Italian-American family of San Fele.
Gary Sinise: native of Ripacandida (born in Blue Island, a suburb of Chicago where there is a large community of Lucani origins).
Anthony Celebrezze, born in 1910 and died in 1998. Celebrezze (the original last name Cilibrizzi in the United States has become Celebrezze) was minister of health, education, welfare, during the Kennedy and Johnson presidency.
Whether you are or aren’t descendant of the ancient or contemporary Lucani from Basilicata, our wish is that you can taste with one of your senses this land: to admire it with your eyes, to feel its taste, to be left captivated by its sound, to breathe the sea or mountain air, to brush with the hands its history. Because this hidden treasure sets aside even more surprises than what this few lines can tell.
Lucy Asquino – Lucana from Basilicata emigrated in Chicago in 2010