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If undiscovered is your thing then you'll love Castelmezzano. A medieval village tumbling down a spectacular cliffside in a region of Italy few have ever heard of let alone visited. This is the Basilicata region, largely forgotten and overshadowed by its more famous Calabria and Puglia neighbors.
Here is one of the most wonderful spots in Italy's deep south so why do so few foreign tourists ever visit? No idea! Better for the few who do though.
Once you've seen the sun dip behind the mountain spires, the thousands of twinkling lights begin to sparkle to life in the town, and high above the black night fill with a million stars; that is when you know that Castelmezzano will stay with you forever.
Well there is no one thing that stands out, it is more the whole village and the surroundings that combine to take away your breath.
Mountain peaks remind me of the Dolomites up north while the village runs down the mountainside in a delightful and completly higgledy-piggledy sort of way. In some places the village and the cliffs seem almost one.
The photos on this page shared with us by Lorenzo Palazzo (one of our Facebook community) capture the magic of the place,
Of course if you need a few old churches or castles to make a trip here worthwhile then you should be satisfied. There is the remains of an old castle and a lovely 13th century church called the Chiesa Madre; then there are plenty of old houses, cottages and villages to admire.
The lanes, often steps, are steep though, so be warned. Many are carved out of the rock and seem to lead endlessly upwards, higher and higher. Look back over your shoulder and the views are heavenly.
For those who like a little more adventure you are in luck. You can't get much more exciting than the Flight of Angels which enables you to fly across the sky, soaring over mountain spires and ancient villages, like an eagle at over 100 kph. The flight was the dream of the villagers of Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa who wanted people to fly between villagers. It's kind of hard to explain the concept but the photo below gives you an idea.
Castelmezzano is one of the best preserved medieval villages in all of Southern Italy and yet it is no "museum" but a lively little town.
Many of the residents are aging though, and, sadly, the population is declining. For this reason, they really want those who love old fashioned Italy to settle here. If you fall in love with this little gem (you will) they'd be delighted if you'd call it home.
None of those 1 Euro houses here (that's mostly just a marketing trick anyway), but, a warm welcome is guaranteed and the cost of living way below that of just about anywhere else in Europe.
Definitely best value is the Al Balcone delle Dolomiti ,which offers views you'll never forget and a warm southern welcome. In terms of where to eat try the Al Becco della Civetta in Vico 1° Maglietta, 7. They may cost a little more than most restaurants in the area but their local dishes are superb.
Sometimes winter here is the most beautiful time of all. It does get really cold though, that's the thing about much of southern Italy, away from the coasts and into the mountains it is completely different to the hot and sweltering southern image of Italy that most people think of when they think of Southern Italy..
Winter is great but spring is my favorite time of year here: the mountain meadows come alive with color and every balcony, every street, seems filled with brightly colored flowers.
The narrow lanes of the village, meandering up the hillside, are a joy to explore. Hard work on the legs though. I've been out of breath, huffing and puffing my way up lanes like this when locals, 30 years older, pass me by laden down with parcels and with all the breath in the world.
The neighbouring town of Pietrapertosa is another delightful hill town. The Flight of Angels runs between here and Castelmezzano.
Rush hour in Basilicata.