Viggiano is located along the western ridge of the Alta Val d’Agri at 1023 meters above sea level. The country is strongly linked to its roots: the Marian cult and the double annual procession for the Virgin Mary from the village to Monte Sacro and vice versa. Recently, the candidacy process for the pilgrimage paths to the Sacred Mount of Viggiano as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was started. The municipality is included within the Appennino Lucano / Val d’agri-Lagonegrese National Park. Many areas of the natural landscape of the territory have been enhanced through improvement and recovery actions, in fact a path network, the so-called “tratturi”, has been identified and reopened, made safe and passable for hikers both on foot and on horseback. Particularly evocative and also accessible again, the path of the ancient mills testifies to the presence of ancient civilizations within the territory of Viggiano. Località Bocca di Alli can be considered the door of the mountain, as a crossroads of various paths, for this reason, a great work of naturalistic engineering was carried out which saw the enhancement of the funeral stone of Pactumeia, as well as the construction of a bridge walkway in laminated wood to allow the crossing of the Alli stream, right at the beginning of the Antico Tratturo della Madonna di Viggiano, restored, reopened and made available also in virtual format. Among the other paths made accessible again in the area, there are those of the Gorges, and of the Rupi Rosse (imposing rocky walls): it is found in the natural cavities of the cliffs that the Basilian hermit monks used to retire in meditation. A path full of spirituality and history.
The “main” dish of the Viggianese culinary tradition is certainly Ferricello (U Frrcidd ‘) seasoned with breadcrumbs and walnuts. However, the variants with breadcrumbs, walnuts and cruschi peppers (in white) or with meat sauces flavored with excellent pecorino cheese, chilli and horseradish (horseradish, root that gives the dishes a characteristic flavor, strong and decisive) are also very popular. Since 2017, the Viggianese ferricello has been a De.CO brand product, thanks to a specification that represents the pivot around which the system of awarding quality awards revolves. Later, in 2020, the ferricello obtained the P.A.T. (Traditional Agri-food Product)
Other typical dishes of the Viggianese culinary tradition are the following:
Cazun’ (Ravioli): Ravioli stuffed with ricotta and parsley served with tomato sauce.
Currisc’ (Tagliatelle): Tagliatelle prepared with home-made pasta (with a slightly wider thickness than standard formats) always served with tomato sauce and small pieces of meat.
Scarpuncidd’ (Scarponcini): Pasta format prepared with the same dough as ravioli but rectangular in shape. The two opposite edges are taken and closed, thus making a format very similar to a cannolo. They are considered the ancestors of Dry Pasta and are so called because they recall the shape of the shoes of the ancient Viggianese shepherds.
Trighidd’ (Cavatelli): Homemade small-sized pasta (the classic is spread with two fingers while there are variants with four or eight fingers). It is seasoned with tomato sauce and pieces of meat (Ndrupp’c)
Trighidduzz’ (Cavatellini): Homemade very small pasta (single finger cavatelli). It is seasoned with legumes.
Tagliulin’ (Taglierini): It is a sort of thinner and finely sliced noodle seasoned with legumes. Less used but still present, the variant seasoned with milk.
Potatoes: Spheres or balls of about 1cm prepared with boiled potatoes with the addition of aged pecorino, egg and parsley. This dish can also be served in broth with the addition of small pasta shapes (the so-called ‘Mbilband) and can serve as a single dish.
Cazz’marr’ : rolls with kid or suckling lamb entrails
P’prussa crusc’ : Dried peppers
The extraordinary dishes described above are accompanied at the table by the DOC wine “Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri”.
Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri was born thanks to the idea of some small wineries in the Val d’Agri who wanted to take up the challenge of preserving and enhancing the millenary tradition that concerns the history of this area. Specifically, there are a dozen labels curated by local producers, mostly red wines but there are also some whites and rosés. The prevailing tasting profile is that of a wine with an intense flavor but which presents itself pleasantly to the nose thanks to an accurate spiciness with different varieties of fruit. A wine with an elegant and harmonious body, velvety on the palate, dry and with a long persistence.
The production area includes the entire territories of the municipalities of Viggiano, Moliterno and Grumento Nova. The “Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri” DOC was established in 2003 with a Ministerial Decree. The official varieties grown in the affected area (215 total hectares) are mainly red such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malvasia di Basilicata. In particular, there are three types of wine that are made: the “Red”, which can be aged for at least one year. The “Rosso Riserva” which ages for two years and the “Rosato” which also includes the use of Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata.
Recent studies (2011-2018) have shown how the wine production area falls within the same classification as the Rio Negro Wine Region in Argentina, where (as in Val d’Agri) night temperatures are very low. During each summer, in the second half of August, the “Vino Sotto Le Stelle” event is particularly interesting and evocative. It is a tasting itinerary through the streets of the historic center of Viggiano, through which tourists and enthusiasts can appreciate the different qualities of wine masterfully combined with the products of the gastronomic tradition of the valley.
The capital of Basilicata for over two centuries, Potenza is the highest regional capital in Italy at 819 metres above sea level. Elegant and welcoming, the city revolves around its thousand-year-old historic centre, made up of old and new buildings that climb up on the hill, ancient gateways and medieval towers, historic stone staircases and modern escalators, stately palaces and authentic little squares, narrow alleys and cobbled streets, as well as museums and art galleries, such as the “Dinu Adamesteanu” National Archaeological Museum, housed in the historic Palazzo Loffredo.
In the central Piazza Mario Pagano, recently renovated on a design by the famous architect Gae Aulenti, stands the theatre dedicated to the Potentine musician Francesco Stabile, built in 1857 in the image of the San Carlo theatre in Naples.
In May, then, the city is enveloped in a magical atmosphere that revolves around the preparations for the celebrations in honour of its patron saint, San Gerardo Vescovo da Piacenza, celebrations that are intertwined with the historic Parade of the Turks, a parade that retraces the crucial moments in history, loudly narrated by entire generations of the capital, which sees the city’s patron saint repel with a blinding glare the invasion of the Turks who silently came up the Basento river.
Basilicata’s traditional cuisine features a broad variety of specialities: From strascinati, homemade pasta served with tomato sauce or in other delicious and unmissable recipes, to flavourful cheeses, produced by traditional methods, such as Pecorino cheese of Filiano (PDO), Canestrato of Moliterno (PGI), ricotta, scamorza and caciocavallo (gourd-shaped cheese), and to pork sausage, such as the “lucanega” variety, already known in ancient Rome. Matera bread (PGI), with its fragrant flavour and characteristic shape that reminds Murgia landscapes, is really worth trying. Other delicious specialties include: black, oven-dried olives from Ferrandina area, baccalà (dried salt-cured cod) from Avigliano, optimum mineral waters from the springs of Mount Vulture, Rotonda red eggplant PGI, Sarconi bean PGI and Senise pepper PGI. Fresh seasonal fruit is a recurrent motif on the table: citrus fruits, strawberries, peaches, pears and grapes are only some of the varieties cultivated on the plains around Metaponto.
In Basilicata, when you sit down to eat, you combine the flavour of unique specialties, seasoned with a drizzle of “Vulture” DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil, with a delicious, full-bodied, intense and smooth wine. In fact, one of the best wines in southern Italy comes from the hills of Vulture: Aglianco del Vulture DOC.
The origins of this fine wine, which today is counted among the best in Italy and Europe, date back to the times of Magna Graecia. The vineyards are located on the slopes of Monte Vulture, an extinct volcano that gives the wine its unique and distinctive character. Aglianico del Vulture, whose “Superiore” variety was awarded DOCG status in 2010, is the perfect accompaniment for the highly regarded local cuisine and strong traditional flavours.
Basilicata boasts 3 other wines bearing the DOC mark and well representing the regional variety: “Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri” wine, produced in the Val d’Agri district and available in Red, Red Riserva and Rosè varieties; “DOC Matera”, which takes its name from the town of Sassi but is also produced throughout the province, from the Ionian Coast to the Murgia gorges; “Grottino di Roccanova”, named after the ancient caves where the wine is traditionally aged.