Hidden in the southern region of Basilicata, it’s one of the most beautiful villages of Italy and probably amongst the ones you’ve never heard of as it sits out of the tourist radar. It’s perched in a stunning location at an altitude of 890 meters above sea level. It’s called Castelmezzano. The most fascinating spectacle of Castelmezzano is the scenery of the Lucanian Dolomites that form the background. Over time the rain and wind have carved out shapes in this sandstone rock to which popular tradition has given particular names. Rocks with particular conditions of light and shadow are said to take the form of an owls’s beak, a snapdragon, an anvil, and a golden eagle. You arrive in the small village through a tunnel dug into the rock after passing a spectacular gorge. This position was fundamental for the defense of the village over the centuries, whose origins dates back to around the 10th century AD. The buildings are inserted directly into the rock.
There are many walking paths and trails to follow in order to get fantastic views and/or explore the uncontaminated territory. We chose to walk the Path of Seven Stones, an ancient peasant path of about 2km connecting the villages of Castelmezzano and Piertrapertosa. It was actually quite a steep and rocky terrain but the landscape was peaceful and pretty. About the path there are many tales handed down orally and ancient legends of the “masciare,” as the wood witches were called, who gathered at night to dance under a tree and then fly away on a white dog. The path takes its inspiration from one of these legends, telling the unfortunate love story between a man and a witch. It is divided into seven chapters or stages that put together the legendary history: destiny, magic, witchcraft, witches, flight, dance, delirium. In each of the seven stages, huge stone sculptures have been installed which become the voices and sounds, the narrations and music of the story as the visitor passes by. To us, the music and narrations seemed like chanting and threw the vibe off for us. Perhaps it was because we weren’t expecting it and perhaps its because they think adding these storytelling features immerses the traveler into a more magical atmosphere of this ancient place; but we could have done without it. The views along the hills were something else though!
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!