So you have decided to go to Basilicata, a region of southern Italy bordering on the Gulf of Taranto and the Tyrrhenian Sea. This is the real Italy, relatively neglected by tourists. Like most Italian cities, Matera has a Cathedral but it also is home to a wide variety of churches, some of which are caves. Talking about caves, the Sassi di Matera (Stones of Matera) are caves that have been occupied continuously by human beings for an estimated nine thousand years. This area has been used again and again in films because of its similarity to ancient Jerusalem. The Parco Nazionale del Pollino (Pollino National Park) the largest in Italy at just under 750 square miles (more than 1900 square kilometers. If you like historic churches, be sure to visit the neighboring villages that hold spring and summer festivals with an Albanian flavor as many of the inhabitants are ethnic Albanians. The village of NoŤpoli is home to the Palazzo Rinaldi artistís residence.
Lombardy is home to three DOC wines, Matera made in a variety of styles near the city of that name, Terra dellíAlta Val díAgri a red or rosť made from a variety of grapes near the Campanian border, and Aglianico del Vulture. I saved the best for last. This wine is made from the regionís signature Aglianico red grape on the slopes of the extinct Monte Vulture volcano. You have the combination of high altitudes, volcanic soil, good drainage, a long growing season, and lots and lots of sunlight. No wonder that some of the best Aglianico del Vulture DOC wines are really fine. Be patient, they reach their maximum in 6-20 years. This wine is also available in semisweet and sparkling versions.
The major white grape varieties include Malvasia and Moscato. Youíll probably do best with the ones near Mount Vulture. The region grows some Merlot but the red focus is heavily on Aglianico.
Companies selling regional wine tours include Prime Italy, Le Baccanti, Romantic Travel Destinations Getaway, and Wine Tour Italia. Regional wineries that accept visits include Berlucchi in Cortefranca, Cavalleri in Erbusco, and Sertoli Salis in Tirano. A few words of warning are in order. Make sure that you check ahead of time for opening hours and whether English is spoken. Some places may charge admission; others may expect you to buy some of their products.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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Wine tours, wine vacations, wine holidays in Basilicata, Italy