Basilicata, Italy

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Interactive Map of Basilicata, Italy

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Located in the southern region of Italy, separating the “heel” and the “toe” of the peninsula is Basilicata. Basilicata, Italy, is unique because it has two coastlines on two different seas. The coastline to the south lies on the Gulf of Taranto, and the coastline to the west lies on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is a vast region that covers a total area of 3,900 square miles.

Cities as Seen on a Map of Basilicata, Italy

  • Matera
  • Venosa
  • Maratea
  • Bernalda
  • Policoro
  • Potenza
  • Melfi
  • Montescaglioso
  • Sassi de Matera
  • Aliano
  • Rionera in Vultura
  • Stigliano
  • Craco
  • Monte Pollino 
  • Metaponto
  • Rionero in Vulture

Quick Facts:

  • Population = 560,000
  • Languages = Italian (Gallo-Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, and Indo-European dialects)
  • Ethnicities = Latin, Roman, and Greek
  • Capital = Potenza

The History of Basilicata

Before Basilicata earned its name, it was called Lucania. The Lucani people were from central Italy and lived in the area until the Romans took over around the 4th century BC. When the Roman Empire fell in 476, Basilicata was taken control of by the Germans.

In 1059, Basilicata and the surrounding southern regions of Italy came under the control of the Normans, leading to the first descendants of the Italo-Norman people. 

By 1663, a new province of Basilicata was founded, and Matera was chosen as the capital.

Basilicata became part of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies in 1735. In 1860, the Kingdom of Two Sicilies was unified with the Kingdom of Italy during the Italy Unification during the 19th century.

World War II began in 1939, and on September 27, 1940, Italy officially joined the Axis Powers through the Tripartite Act. To combat the Axis Powers, the Allied Powers (United States, France, Russia, and Britain) bombed southern Italy, predominantly in Potenza, because of its metropolitan infrastructure. Unfortunately, there was a substantial loss of civilian life during the bombings because of the high number of refugees that had taken asylum in the region. 

After World War II, Potenza and the region of Basilicata attempted to recover from the bombings, natural disasters, and economy that had weakened the area. 


Latin is the dominant language spoken in Basilicata with dialects of Gallo-Italic, Romance, and Italo-Western. When Basilicata was known as Lucania, the primary language that was spoken was Oscon-Italian, a dialect of the Latin language. Over time, the language has evolved into modern-day Latin, with dialects to include Gallo-Italic, Romance, and Italo-Western.


Christianity is the dominant religion of Basilicata. Roman Catholicism was practiced throughout Italy, which also played a part in education. To receive a letter in education, Italian youth were required to practice religion. If they chose not to enter into practicing active religion, students would not receive a letter in education; however, they would be proficient in crafts and trade, something they would come to use for their benefit.


Southern Italy is mostly low-lying hills with valleys and coastlines. Still, Basilicata is positioned just north enough to include the southern portion of the Apennine mountains, making it the most mountainous region in southern Italy.

This small, mountainous region has two short coastlines on the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Sea and ins divided into two provinces: Province of Matera and Province of Potenza. It is also known for its low hills and wide valleys and clay hills that overlook the narrow coastal plains. Basilicata, Italy is also home to the now extinct volcano of Monte Vulture which stands isolated from the Appenines to the north. 

The geography primarily influenced the history of Basilicata within the region. Basilicata was created to provide a transportation infrastructure throughout the region and into surrounding regions. Because people could travel to these areas, markets and trade were held outside of the region. Basilicata attempted to have an economy based on agriculture, but the soil is too poor, and the terrain is too rugged for this to be a successful way of life. 

Another feat that Basilicata had to overcome was the risk of earthquakes. Basilicata suffered damage from major earthquakes in both 1857 and 1980. Landslides, earthquakes, and poor soil all played a part in the struggles that were generated through the geography of Basilicata. 


The culture of Basilicata has strong influences from France, Switzerland, Spain, and Greece. The region of Basilicata, Italy, has a variety of structures that were built using these influences and is often revered as the capital of culture. The structures found in this European capital of culture include powerful castles and rock churches, many of which can still be seen today.

Migration Patterns

Each region of Italy contributed to the near 13 million emigration record of Italians leaving Italy to pursue employment in the western hemisphere or neighboring European countries. Because of the economic downfall in Basilicata during and after the Italian unification, many Italians emigrated from Italy in search of employment. 

Basilicata suffered from sickness, war, and poverty, which not only caused emigration but also contributed to the lessening of the population in the region. Since World War II ended, the population of Basilicata has slowly improved by way of emigrants repatriating to the area, as well as immigrants who have moved to the area because of the recently improved economy.


The ancient Roman Empire controlled the region of Basilicata until its fall in 476. After Rome fell, Basilicata was controlled by the Germans, and then subsequently the Normans. Finally, the Allied powers invaded southern Italy, bringing British, French, Russian, and American lineage all to the area.

Emigrants left the region in pursuit of employment in other areas, taking the Italian and Lucani genes to other regions. 

Having genealogy connected to the Basilicata region means that any combination of Italian, French, British, Roman, Greek, or German heritage is found in the lineage.

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Caleb Pike
About the author

Caleb Pike is an avid hiker and nature lover, with a passion for exploring the great outdoors. He's a writer, photographer, and adventurer, always seeking new trails to blaze and peaks to conquer.