Basilicata (Potenza) - Southern Regions

"Basilicata (Potenza) - Southern Regions" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 28th April 2011

The ancient name of the region was Lucania coming from the name of ancient people Lucanians (lucus = forest). The modern name Basilicata was given to this region by Byzantines (basilikos = prince, governor). Area: 9 992 (3857 sq.miles) (3.3%), population: 610 000 inhabitants (1%), density of population: 61 inhab./

The territory of Basilicata is not a place well adapted to the human settlements due to its climate or cold or hot, mountain and hill landscape with poor agricultural land, and frequent floods of the seas which transformed the coasts in marshes. Before the Greeks came in VII century b.C. and founded such colonies as Siris, Metaponto and Eraclea, the region was occupied by Sunnits and Lucanians. the Greeks developed poor agriculture and gave impulse to commerce. Starting from the III century b.C. the Roman colonization began and they were the first who started using the forests which continued for centuries and exhausted this natural resource nearly to the end.

The Romans were followed by Byzantines, Normans and Swabians. The devastating rides of pirates Saracens forced the local population to move from the sea coasts to inland and mountains.

After the unification of Italy the Italian state confiscated and sold enormous pieces of Basilicata's territory which before were the property of the Church. Concentrated in hands of not numerous noble families this area didn't know any notable changes for ages and social-economical decline continued. The poverty was the main reason for the birth of such phenomenon as "brigantaggio" (brigandage). The Church which lost its possession, with the help of representatives of the nobility stirred up the rebellions of the countrymen against the new State. This movement grew in a real opposition continued for years.

Only after the WWII took place the improvements of the territory organization and land, creation of little agricultural companies . In the 60's-70's was discovered the methane-fields which caused creation in Basilicata the petrol-chemical and fibre plants. The perspectives could be seen with the modest development of tourism on the seaside coasts.



Man and Territory Economy and Resources

Archeology and Art


Between the VII and VI centuries b.C. the regional sea coasts were occupied by Greeks; the on the inland were settled the local people Lucanians. The Greeks had founded some colonies Metaponto, Eraclea and Siris. The Doric temple of "Tavole Palatine" in Metaponto.

Roman Epoch
(from III century b.C.)

After continuous rebellions Basilicata was conquered by Romans and became the 3rd region of empire. Notable modifications of the territory (usage of forests). Rests of a Roman city Venusia.

Middle Ages
(V - XV centuries)

Fall of western Roman empire; invasions of Goths, Lombards and Byzantines. In XII century the region went under the domination of Normans with the capital in Melfi. The monks communities of basilians and benedictians are spread all over the territory. Fortified castles and walls. The church of S.Barbara in Matera (Byzantine style) (IX-X century); castle and cathedral of Melfi (Norman style) (XII century).

(XV - XVI centuries)

The region is included first in the kingdom of Sicily and then of Naples. Grave economic decline (poverty, isolation, malaria). .

Modern Epoch (XVII-XVIII)

The region became a part of the Bourbonic kingdom. . .

XIX - XX centuries

1860 - annexation to the Italian state. Intensive emigration; starting from the 60's the industrialization began (methane fields in Ferrandina).  

Basilicata (Potenza) Map:

Basilicata (Potenza) Map


The region borders on Campania and the Tyrrhenian sea (west), Apulia and the gulf of Taranto  (north and east), Calabria (south).


January: 2.5 C

July: 21.5 C


The climate is different: the coasts of the Ionian sea and the Tyrrhenian sea have hot summers and mild winters; inland and mountain and hill zones have rigid winters and warm summers.


The  landscape of the region is compound mostly of the hills and mountains; the little plain zones are successfully cultivated now, especially after the Reform when 600 of the Ionian plain were reclaimed. The main rivers are Sinni, Agri, Basento, Bradano (all flowing in to the Tyrrhenian Sea).


plain: 8%

hill: 45%

mountain: 47%


Total: 800 000




The number of roads and railways is very little: the reasons are mountain landscape and instability of the soil. With the discover of methane one highway was built, but the other roads go mostly along the main rivers' valleys.

Agriculture and breeding.

Agriculture is the primary sector in the economics of the region, but the high altitudes of the landscape, poor fertility of the soil and irregular rains all serve as the obstacles for high productivity. Nevertheless the improvements of organization in this sphere especially after the WWII created some conditions for progress in agriculture: mechanization of work, reclaim of the soil, irrigation, reorganization of land owners system. The principals cultivated plants in Basilicata are: wheat, oats, barley, maize, potato, wine grape, olive, citrus, tobacco, sugar beet, tomato and other fruits and vegetables. The breeding of sheep, pig and goats is growing.


agriculture: 16%

industry: 31%


other: 53%



44 000 000 kWh


300 000 kWh



128 000 000 kWh


200 000 kWh


The industry in this region is not developed well. The only industrial factories belong to petrol-chemical, FIAT, food and wool productions. The artisan activities are spread all over the region supplying internal needs with ceramic, earthenware and wooden goods.
The tourism in Basilicata is poor because of lack of the communication ways and zones of interests for tourists, the only exception is the area of Maratea.


For the reasons of poor economics and emigration the region is scarcely populated. The living settlements are spread all over the territory and only rarely the population is concentrated in villages on the summits of the mountains and hills. The capital of Basilicata has only 60 000 inhabitants.

Births (per 1000)

Italy: 9.9

Basilicata: 10.6

Deaths (per 1000)

Italy: 9.3

Basilicata: 8.5


Italy: 0.6

Basilicata: 2.1

Inhabitants per car

Italy: 2.4

Basilicata: 2.3

Expenses for sport/recreation

(liras per inhabitant)

Italy: 48 500

Basilicata: 15 000


During the past decades the life in the region got better and according to the statistics Basilicata from the 18th moved to the 16th place in the regional classification of welfare. But the product per inhabitant and consumption, as well as medical assistance, number of cars, telephones and TV are below the average rates in the southern Italy. The diffusion of newspapers and magazines is extremely low. Nevertheless the criminal situation is one of the best in Italy and the life of inhabitants of Basilicata is one of the longest in the country.

Provinces and communes.

The territory of the region is divided into two provinces: Potenza and Matera with 131 communes.

Monthly income

per inhabitant

948 000 It.Liras (474 US Dollars)

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