February 13, 2013, Basilicata, Calabria, Catanzaro, Hiking, Hobbies & Leisure, Italia, News, Notes, Potenza, Tourist Attractions & Destinations, Travel & Tourism

National parks Italy: 10 good reasons to visit Pollino in Basilicata

Few tourists find their way to Pollino – on of the large national parks Italy.  A great pity considering the interesting sights and attractions. Here are 10 good reasons for visiting  the area between Calabria and Basilicata.

Pollino qualifies as the largest natural park in Italy with a total area of 1 820 square kilometres. The landscape is scared by deep gullies. There are dramatic rivers, secluded lakes and shady woodlands with kites and eagles circling overhead. Along with some very charming towns and villages where ancient traditions and rites are still observed.

The villages San Paolo and San Constantino Albanese are home to an Albanian community who came to Lucania between the 15th and the 17th century. They still have their own language and customs that include a bright colourful dress for women, particular food and elaborate Easter rites.

A century ago, this area then known as Lucania was controlled by outlaw gangs, highway robbers and otherbrigante’ bandits. One of the legendary bandits was Antonio Franco, and it is said that the treasures he accumulated never have been found, so keep your eyes open if you hike along the Via del Brigante around the Pollino Mountain.

To reach the mountain tops in 2 267 metres altitude, you pass through forest of beech and silver fir that makes to think you have fallen asleep and woken up in Sweden. These areas a difficult to navigate and a local expert guide is required.

For some reason the artificial lake Lago di Monte Cotugno always makes me think of ‘Tintin and the Lake of Sharks’. It has the same colours and deserted quality, even though it is supposed to be great fishing waters.

national parks italyNearby Senise is particularly famous for the local chilli peppers called ‘zafarani’. They have received igp recognition and are served in innumerable different versions as for example marmalade and crisps.

In Terranova you have to see the Bosnian pine that has become the symbol of the park. These hardy trees that can grown at an altitude of up to 2 500 metres sometimes have a nicely sculptured crown not unlike a fully grown bonsai.

I almost didn’t belive my ears and eyes the first time I saw (and heard) a man playing bagpipe on a street corner in Rotonda, but bagpipes are ingrained in the Pollino dna. And unlike the vain Scottish bagpipes, these instruments make it clear what they are and where they came from. Often the legs of the poor goat are still dangling beneath the inflated stomach.

Apart from the bagpipes, the red aubergines and a nice restaurant, Rotonda is famous for being the only town in Basilicata where Giuseppe Garibaldi has actually spent a night. This happened on 2. September 1860 on a brief stopover before moving on to conquer Naples.

If you want to experience the area from a different perspective seek out one of the river courses departing from Papasidero and Laino Borgo. In summer varying levels and durations are offered including white-water rafting, canyoning and kayaking. We drove around looking for the stations for 2-3 hours for one morning without getting there, so use a gps to make sure you know exactly where you are going, if you plan this adventure.

Spiritual travellers might like to visit the hamlet Castronuovo, where Saint Andrew Avellino patron saint of Sicily and Naples was born in 1608. There’s a small chapel in the house where he was born and where people go to worship the great crusader of chastity. Saint Andrew was severely wounded when trying to reform and restore discipline at a convent in Naples. He was beatified only 16 years after his death.

More on Basilicata

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13 Comments

February 14, 2013 9:38 am

Mary {The World Is A Book}

I love National Parks so a visit to Pollino would be a highlight for me. The landscape and trees you described all sound so interesting. How awesome to hear bagpipes in a small Italian town.

February 15 2013 12:21 pm

admin

I like national parks a lot too. And Pollino is a nicely understated and unspoilt.

February 14, 2013 2:47 pm

Sophie

I was especially intrigued to learn about the old Albanian community that retains its language. Love little cultural pockets like that.

February 15 2013 12:19 pm

admin

Me too. And luckily there are a quite a number of these pockets around.

February 17, 2013 3:55 am

Steve

I’m not so sure I’d be able to enjoy one of those nice restaurants if there was a guy playing bagpipes with goat legs standing nearby. Although I’ll confess that until now, I’d never given much thought to where bagpipes come from.

February 17 2013 12:35 pm

admin

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

February 20, 2013 9:00 am

Salika Jay

How cool it would be to actually find something Antonio Franco hid? Then it can be displayed in a museum.

February 22 2013 09:01 am

admin

Yes, you could turn the walk into a treasure hunt.

April 24, 2013 8:47 pm

ten zen good reasons to visit Mount Pollino in Basilicata | BABAJI

[…] National parks Italy: 10 good reasons to visit Pollino in Basilicata. […]

August 9, 2013 3:25 am

Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans

Italy is full of so many places to visit – this is another one to add to my ever-growing list! Thanks for sharing for Wanderlust Wednesdays!

August 25 2013 10:37 am

admin

My pleasure:)

January 9, 2014 10:21 am

National parks Italy: 10 good reasons to visit …

[…] Few tourists find their way to Pollino – on of the large national parks Italy. A great pity considering the interesting sights and attractions. Here are 10 good reasons for visiting the area between Calabria and Basilicata.Pollino qualifies as the largest natural park in Italy with a total area of 1820 square kilometres. The landscape is scared by deep gullies. There are dramatic rivers, secluded lakes and shady woodlands with kites and eagles circling overhead. Along with some very charming towns and villages where ancient traditions and rites are still observed.The villages San Paolo and San Constantino Albanese are home to an Albanian community who came to Lucania between the 15th and the 17th century. They still have their own language and customs that include a bright colourful dress for women, particular food and elaborate Easter rites.A century ago, this area then known as Lucania was controlled by outlaw gangs, highway robbers and other ‘brigante’ bandits. One of the legendary bandits was Antonio Franco, and it is said that the treasures he accumulated never have been found, so keep your eyes open if you hike along the Via del Brigante around the Pollino Mountain.To reach the mountain tops in 2267 metres altitude, you pass through forest of beech and silver fir that makes to think you have fallen asleep and woken up in Sweden. These areas a difficult to navigate and a local expert guide is required.For some reason the artificial lake Lago di Monte Cotugno always makes me think of ‘Tintin and the Lake of Sharks’. It has the same colours and deserted quality, even though it is supposed to be great fishing waters.Nearby Senise is particularly famous for the local chilli peppers called ‘zafarani’. They have received igp recognition and are served in innumerable different versions as for example marmalade and crisps.Read More  […]

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