Visit Aliano: Tourists stop at Eboli too

Visit Aliano: If you have ever visited the small town of Aliano in Basilicata, you will never forget where Carlo Levi wrote his famous book Cristo Si E Fermato a Eboli – about how Christ and Christianity never penetrated il mezzogiorno south of the town Eboli.

Today Alianohas only 1000 inhabitants, but they are ever so proud of their claim on the fictional Gagliano that every house, every square, every wall and even some trees sport a small quote from the book. Midway between the old and the new town, a bronze bust of Levi on a pile of stones from observes town life and the scenery. And even the cemetery is geared for sightseeing.

Visit Aliano: Tourists stop at Eboli too

We walk around between grave walls and wonder why Italians even in the after life prefer to live in high rises before we finally find Levi’s grave between the two cypress trees, he describes in his book. On the grave is a pile of smaller stones.

– Levi was a Jew, and it is a Jewish custom to place stones on the grave, an elderly American couple explained. The four of us seemed to be the only tourists in town on this fine summer day in the high season.

The American had read the book and seen the movie so many times that he knew the story by heart, and he told us what the cemetery meant for Levi, who to the great disappointment of the villagers never returned to Basilicata after 1936, when he escaped from his exile. He was, nevertheless, buried in Aliano, where people have been expecting a boom in Levi tourism ever since.

They have built a large parking lot in the centre of the town that still hangs perilously on the edge of the abyss, but now they can at least accommodate large air-conditioned coaches that conquer the 28 hairpin bends of the only road to town. Still, the tourists are not exactly queuing to visit the place. Apart from the American couple we see no foreigners. Most tourists apparently follow Christ’s example and stop at Eboli. In this sense Aliano has not changed over the last 70 years. As a Carlo Levi quote on a walls says:

“Gagliano a prima vista non sembrà un paese, ma un piccolo insieme di cassette, bianche, con una pretesa nella loro miseria”

If you visit Aliano, you might also want to see:

Attractions of Maratea

Eagles over Basilicata

Red aubergines – Basilicata’s strange fruits

View Larger Map

8 replies
  1. Innocenzo Riviello
    Innocenzo Riviello says:

    When in Aliano be sure to have lunch at the Pizzeria Amici di Levi……great pizza and wonderful views.

  2. ciaochowlinda
    ciaochowlinda says:

    I’ve read the book, seen the movie and been to the town. It was a moving experience to actually see the place, walk in his house and see his paintings. At one point, an old woman invited us in for coffee – a woman whose father had been cared for medically by Levi. I would love to return some day.

    • admin
      admin says:

      What a beautiful memory – there still is a special synergy between the town, the book and the movie and I’d love to have met someone with personal relations to Levi, like the woman you talk about.

  3. Susan Dunn
    Susan Dunn says:

    When more Americans see this great movie CHRIST STOPPED AT EBOLI, there will be more tourists to Aliano. i hope to be there next spring.

  4. Julia Caesar Scalcione
    Julia Caesar Scalcione says:

    I want to know how he ended up getting buried in Matera even though he never returned except in death? Who did that and why?

    • Mette
      Mette says:

      I’ve visited his grave in Aliano, not Matera, and according to the Italian wikipedia his body was buried there in order to keep the promise to return he had made to the inhabitants, when leaving the village. It also says that in reality, Levi returned to Basilicata several times after World War II, as proved by the numerous photos kept in the art gallery dedicated to him in Aliano. In these photos Carlo Levi can be seen in various locations along with his personal friends and the characters portrayed in his most famous book.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] said that he never did make it back there during his life. He did, however, in death. The Aliano cemetery that we see him visit in the film is his eternal resting place, and his paintings are on display […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.